'Olive oil is a team and each molecule acts on a specific pathology'

Interview with Antonio Escribano, Professor of Sports Nutrition at the Catholic University of Murcia

What is the importance and effect of olive oil consumption on health and, in particular, on cardiovascular health?

Olive oil helps to lower blood pressure, prevent diabetes, increase good cholesterol and reduce bad cholesterol, among other things.

Olive oil also has an important effect on cardiovascular health due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Its consumption has a vascular protection effect, not only on the heart, but also on the blood vessels, reducing the process of arteriosclerosis, as well as preventing platelet aggregation and, therefore, blood coagulation.

What is the ideal amount of olive oil a person should consume per day to have the greatest health benefits?

Experts recommend a daily intake of about 35 millilitres of olive oil per day to get all the beneficial effects of this food. This means that 1 litre should be consumed in a month, 12 litres in a year and between 800 and 900 litres of olive oil over the course of a lifetime, making it a perfect vaccine for many pathologies. This proves that the consumption of olive oil is not expensive per year, nor is it fair to reduce its consumption. If we calculate that 10 euros are one millilitre and if 100 thousand millilitres are 1 euro cent, a day is 35 euro cents and a week is not even 2 euros. In the end, that's 120 euros of expenditure. My question then is, how much do people spend on a weekend meal?

As a Professor of Sports Nutrition, what link can be established in the triangle of olive oil, health and sport?

Everyone knows that olive oil is good for our health because of the fats it contains, but it is rarely related to sporting activity. First of all, because of its antioxidant effect, as we breathe more, more free radicals are released and the body oxidises more. But it also has the famous anti-inflammatory effect which helps to prevent muscular disorders, such as the so-called 'chronic compartment syndrome'. In short, the consumption of olive oil in athletes improves performance, muscle, cardiovascular system, oxidation, resistance, inflammation, and not only in elite athletes but also in the everyday athlete who goes to the gym, walks, runs, climbs stairs, etc.

How can olive oil consumption be applied to different sports specialities?

There is no sport that does not benefit from olive oil, as it is useful for anaerobic and aerobic exercise. In endurance sports such as cycling, marathons, half marathons, it is essential as fuel.

In strength and power sports, such as combat, the anti-inflammatory effect is essential to avoid complications in the musculature.

In endurance sports, olive oil is a fuel that we need as a fat and if they are unsaturated, much better than saturated. Olive oil has unsaturated and monounsaturated fats such as oleic acid.

The Olive Oil World Congress and the FAO organised a conference in Rome on the occasion of World Olive Day, at which you were a speaker. How can the Olive Oil World Congress help to promote the importance of olive oil in the field of health?

Promoting the importance of olive oil in the field of health is fundamental. Olive oil is like a huge piece of equipment with many molecules, which are the players, and each molecule acts on a specific pathology. It is fortunate to have such a product because it is culinarily exceptional and has numerous beneficial properties for health. Celebrations such as the Olive Oil World Congress will help to make society aware of its involvement in health, sport and people's quality of life. What is more, I would even create a permanent forum for the dissemination of olive oil aimed at the general public and in simple language.