Mediterranean Diet Antioxidants Help Prevent Up to 50 Diseases, Scientists Say


(Photo by Eurokinissi/Tatiana Bollari)

Doctors, nutritionists, agronomists, food technologists, chemists - more than a hundred scientists and researchers in total - have been involved with the Hellenic Oxidative Stress Observatory over the last six years, waging the "battle" to inform and evaluate agrifood products and identify valuable antioxidants that prevent dozens of diseases.

A few days ago, at a tasting event of Greek and foreign olive oil in Thessaloniki, the Greek Observatory presented the beneficial properties of Greek olive oil that act against premature aging.

Its components, such as Oleokanthal, inhibit free radicals and act proactively in the defense of the body. "Oleokanthal has been found to act as an anti-inflammatory drug, similarly to ibuprofen," said Dr. Apostolos Kyritzakis, chairman of the Hellenic Observatory for Oxidative Stresses, based in Thessaloniki.

Smoking, poor nutrition, excessive alcohol consumption, air pollution, toxic substances, sedentary life - along with obesity, pesticides and fatty tissue oxidation - are some of the most well-known factors associated with the occurrence of oxidative stress in the body.

According to the chairman of the Greek Observatory, more than 50 diseases are associated with oxidative stress. Scientific observations have come to the conclusion that oxidative stress is the main factor responsible for premature aging. He added that the polyphenols in olive oil make a positive contribution to normal aging because they prevent the shrinking of telomeres in cells and activate the enzyme telomerase.

"When there are more free radicals in our body than the antioxidants that we consume with food, then oxidative stress is the result," said Kyritzakis.

Counter to oxidative stress, dozens of Greek products that are components of the Mediterranean diet, such as fruits, vegetables, dairy products, nuts, aromatic plants, wine, legumes and, of course, olive oil, contain plentiful antioxidants that help eliminate the excess free radicals and protect health.