Olive Oil Makes You Happy

By Caroline J. Beck
October 01, 2011

It has long been acknowledged that eating healthy foods reduces the likelihood of diseases like cancer and coronary heart disease. But now, with the latest stage of research conducted by the SUN project from Spain, it is clear that eating a healthy Mediterranean-style diet can benefit more than just your physical health. It makes you happier.

Is it true that eating a healthy Mediterranean-style diet actually makes us happier?Recent research from Spain reports that adherence to a Mediterranean diet, including healthy amounts of extra virgin olive oil, seems to be a factor associated with a better health-related quality of life (HRLQ). The study of over 11,000 participants was part of a follow-up in the multi-year SUN (Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra) project. The study has been following university graduates since 2001. The first stage of the research completed in 2005 established a baseline of participants that followed a classic Mediterranean-style diet; high in olive oil, red wine, legumes, vegetables, fruits, and grains.

The most recent phase of the study, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, focused on health-related quality of life issues. The results revealed a significant direct association between adherence to a Mediterranean diet and all the physical and most mental health indicators (vitality, social functioning and emotional health). Mean values for physical functioning, role physical, bodily pain, general health and vitality domains were significantly better with increasing adherence to the Mediterranean diet. Those having improved their initial high diet scores had better scores in physical functioning, general health and vitality.

The strong connection between a Mediterranean diet, including extra virgin olive oil, and longevity has long been confirmed in numerous studies in the past. In the 1990’s, a study conducted in Greece and reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, tracked over 22,000 participants. This study convincingly demonstrated that a Mediterranean diet positively impacted the rates of cancer and coronary heart disease in the test group and was associated with a reduction in total mortality rates due to those two diseases.

With this new research, scientists and the medical community can point to even greater reasons to start eating healthy –and adding extra virgin olive oil to your diet. It will help you live longer and enjoy the ride.

Sources:

Adherence to the Mediterranean diet and quality of life in the SUN Project

P Henríquez Sánchez, C Ruano, J de Irala, M Ruiz-Canela, M A Martínez-González and A Sánchez-Villegas

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition , (17 August 2011) doi:10.1038/ejcn.2011.146

Adherence to a Mediterranean Diet and Survival in a Greek Population

Antonia Trichopoulou, M.D., Tina Costacou, Ph.D., Christina Bamia, Ph.D., and Dimitrios Trichopoulos, M.D.

New England Journal of Medicine 2003; 348:2599-2608

Mediterranean diet and stroke: objectives and design of the SUN project

Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra.

Martínez-González MA, Sanchez-Villegas A, De Irala J, Marti A, Martínez JA.

Nutr Neurosci. 2002 Feb;5(1):65-73.