Who doesn’t know olive oil? It is the cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet that adds flavor and life to our salads, pasta, seafood and to almost anything you pour it in. Luckily we do have plenty of it in Albania to satisfy one’s taste and to promote good health. The heritage of olives tree in Albania is evident because there are currently a lot of secular exemplars all over the country.

At present, Albania has sixty thousand hectares of olives and ten million olive trees, out of them 1.3 million olive trees are centenarians, while others go up to eighty years of age. The genetic resources are rich, 22 of them are cultivated varieties out 6 major key varieties: ‘Kaninjot’, ‘KrypsBerati’, ‘Bardhi Tiranës’, ‘Kryps Elbasani’, ‘Mixan’ and ‘Himara’. Those occupy 85% of the producing surface and yield unrivalled quality olive oil.

The health benefits of olive oil are outstanding, and research reveals more benefits nearly every day. In fact, we are only just beginning to understand the countless ways olive oil can improve our health and moreover our lives.

Replacing butter and other less healthy fats with olive oil has been shown to aid in the prevention of a myriad of diseases and counter effects of aging. Prominent cardiologists recommend at least two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil each day to enjoy the many ways olive oil can be beneficial to your health and wellbeing.

Olive oil benefits are so extensive that it is considered a functional food with components that contribute to its overall therapeutic qualities including a reduction of risk factors of coronary heart disease, the prevention of cancers, and alterations of immune and inflammatory responses.

Olive oil and the cardiovascular system

Olive oil is associated with a low death rate from cardiovascular diseases compared to other parts of the world. Various studies have found that people who regularly consume olive oil are much less likely to develop cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, and hyperlipidemia (high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels).

Olive oil is one of the few widely used culinary oils that contain about 75% of its fat in the form of oleic acid (a monounsaturated, omega-9 fatty acid). Research has long been clear about the benefits of oleic acid for proper balance of total cholesterol.

Olive oil may reduce breast cancer risk

Researchers have found that virgin olive oil protects the body against breast cancer, in contrast to other vegetable oils. The researchers decoded a complete cascade of signals within the cells of breast tumors that are activated by virgin olive oil. They concluded that the oil reduces the activity of p21Ras, an oncogene, prevents DNA damage, encourages tumor cell death, and triggers changes in protein signaling pathways.

While corn oil - which is rich in n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids - increased the aggressiveness of tumors, virgin olive oil had the opposite effect. Studies say that virgin olive oil is linked to a higher incidence of benign (non-cancerous) breast tumors.

Protects against Alzheimer's disease

Oleo-canthal is a type of natural phenolic compound found in extra-virgin olive oil. In laboratory experiments, researchers discovered that oleo-canthal helps shuttle the abnormal Alzheimer's disease proteins out of the brain. As background information, the researchers explained that Alzheimer's disease rates are lower in Mediterranean countries, where consumption of olive oil is higher than anywhere else in the world.

Digestive Health Benefits

Benefits of olive oil for the digestive tract were first uncovered in research on diet and cancers of the digestive tract. Numerous studies found lower rates of digestive tract cancers—especially cancers of the upper digestive tract, including the stomach and small intestine—in populations that regularly consumed olive oil. Many of the anti-cancer effects in the digestive tract were believed to depend on the polyphenols in olive oil and their antioxidant plus anti-inflammatory properties.

Prevent acute pancreatitis

Extra virgin olive oil is rich in oleic acid and hydro-xytyrosol, which affect the development of acute pancreatitis (sudden inflammation of the pancreas). Researchers have found that the components of extra virgin olive oil can protect from acute pancreatitis.