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Extra Virgin Olive Oil Boosts Phenols in Vegetables Preventing Cancer Risk

by Amrita Surendranath on  January 23, 2016 at 4:35 PM Health In Focus   - G J E 4
We have been aware of using olive oil instead of refined vegetable oils for its versatile health benefits. But more than olive oil, the unrefined form called as Extra Virgin Olive oil is much healthier as it is rich in antioxidants and has lower levels of oleic acid. Therefore, if you are looking for a nutritious meal, then you should opt for vegetables fried in extra virgin olive oil instead of boiled vegetables. This may have sounded unbelievable had it not been for a research article published by Ramírez-Anaya Jdel P and colleagues in the Journal Food Chemistry.
 Extra Virgin Olive Oil Boosts Phenols in Vegetables Preventing Cancer Risk
Extra Virgin Olive Oil Boosts Phenols in Vegetables Preventing Cancer Risk
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About the Study

The study looked at the moisture, fat, anti-oxidant and phenol content of 120 g cubes of pumpkin, tomato, eggplant and potato. All the vegetables were de-skinned and deseeded. The vegetables were then cooked using one of the following methods
  • Deep frying with extra virgin olive oil
  • Sauteeing with extra virgin olive oil
  • Boiling
  • Boiling with a little extra virgin olive oil added to the water.

Results of the Study

The study showed that there was more phenol preserved in vegetables that were fried or sauteed in extra virgin olive oil. As phenol is good for disease prevention, preserving it or increasing its concentration is essential for good health.

‘Frying and sauteing vegetables in extra virgin olive oil conserve and enhance the phenolic composition reducing the risk of diseases such as diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer's.’
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The extra virgin olive oil helped in thermal increase and preservation of the phenol though it also increased the fat content of the vegetables.

The concentration of phenols and fats were reduced in vegetables that were boiled but were moderately preserved in boiled vegetables that were constituted with a little extra virgin olive oil while cooking.

Why frying with extra virgin olive oil is better than boiling?

Oil has the ability to transfer heat during the process of cooking which boiling cannot. This increases the phenolic compounds in the food while the extra virgin olive oil also increases the fat content.

If the fat content is higher in vegetables fried in extra virgin olive oil, why is it healthier?

The answer lies in the benefits of the higher phenol concentrations, which far out weight the increase in fat content in the fried vegetables.

Olive oil is an essential component of the Mediterranean diet, a diet that is favored by weight watchers across the world. Mediterranean diet along with extra virgin olive oil has also been found to reduce the risk of breast cancer as well as age-related cognitive decline. This study is further proof that this diet is healthy in many ways.

Another interesting aspect of this study is that vegetables that were cooked by the various methods all showed an increase in antioxidants.

Benefits of Plant Polyphenols in the Diet

The immense benefits of polyphenols have prompted extensive research.A study by Kanti Bhooshan Pandey titled "Plant polyphenols as dietary antioxidants in human health and disease" and published in the Journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity states that polyphenols offer protection against
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's
  • Osteoporosis
  • Aging- they have an anti-aging effect
The exciting benefits of polyphenols present in plants are fueling research into its bio-availability, its mode of absorption in the body and the benefits provided.

The current find that frying vegetables in extra virgin olive oil is far more healthy when compared with boiling vegetables is a remarkable find, providing better options for simple cooking.

References

1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2835915/

2. http://phys.org/news/2016-01-vegetables-fried-olive-oil-healthy.html     

Source: Medindia
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