The Skinny on Olive oil

by Evangeline Koutalianos, BSc Kinesiology 

Are you struggling with your weight? Statistics Canada has reported that obesity has more than doubled in the last 2 decades. In 2000/01 – an estimated 3 million adult Canadians were obese- and even more worrisome 6 million were overweight [1]. Leading to the ultimate question – are Canadians following the Americans lead to where 1 out of every 5 adults is obese?

At this rate, obesity has proven itself to be a critical health problem and is now in the running to beating smoking as a cause of illness and premature death [1]. Obesity occurs when people consume more calories than they work off each day. Canada is becoming a fast food nation – more stops at McDonalds than at the Gym – an afternoon chalk full of saturated fat and lard – “Mmmm, I’m lovin’ it.” There are many links between excessive body weight and type II diabetes – one common cause of both epidemics is an unhealthy diet [2].

The Mediterranean diet is a concept that began in the 1950s, it is an eating pattern that successfully combines pleasant taste and numerous health benefits. A study conducted in Spain evaluated the relation of obesity and the Mediterranean diet. The results found that including the typical foods of the traditional Mediterranean diet (vegetables, fruits, and olive oil) were associated with providing protective effects against cardiovascular disease, cancer and obesity [3].

Olive oil is an integral ingredient of the Mediterranean diet- it provides many health benefits. Olive oil, through various studies, has been proven to be inversely associated with both systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure [4]. Reducing your blood pressure is in critical need for the overweight population. A high blood pressure leads to fatal episodes such as coronary heart disease and heart attacks – which are encouraged by consuming saturated fats.

For those looking to lose weight, look not to the misleading “low-fat” diet products available. These products may contain low fat, but they sneak higher calories so they taste good. As mentioned earlier, obesity is a result of high calorie diets. If you are not working this off through exercise – steer clear from diet products and consume healthy fat. It is important to focus on restricting foods in saturated fats and enjoying more unsaturated fats (such as olive oil). A diet rich in monounsaturated fat provides weight management and also nourishes you with antioxidants and other bio-active phytochemicals to jump start your immune system and improve your energy. Eating a healthy diet has time and time again shown to follow with a healthy active lifestyle. If you feel sluggish, change your diet habits – you will see a change in your energy levels.

  1. Le Petit C & Berthelot J-M. Obesity: A Growing Issue. Statistics Canada. 2005. Retrieved from:
  2. Schroder H, Manugat J, Vila J, Covas MJ, Elosua R. Adherence to the traditional Mediterranean diet is inversely associated with body mass index and obesity in a Spanish population. J Nutri. (2004). 134(12): 3355-61
  3. Drexler, H. (2003). Skin protection and percutaneous absorption of chemical hazards. Journal of International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health. 76(5). 359-361
  4. Psaltopoulou T, Naska A, Orfanos P, Trichopoulos D, Mountokalakis T, Trichopoulous A. Olive oil, the Mediterranean diet, and arterial blood pressure: The Greek European prospective investigation into cancer and nutrition (EPIC) study. Am J Clin Nutri. (2004). 80 (4): 1012-8


Olive Oil Cookbook

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