Extra-virgin olive oil tastes good and is also an anti-inflammatory

After a tasting experience at a molecular gastronomy meeting in Sicily, biologist Gary Beauchamp of Pennsylvania University decided to analyse freshly pressed extra-virgin olive oil and found a chemical that acted like ibuprofen in the oil.

He and his team named their discovery oleocanthal and found that, although it has a different chemistry, its effect is similar to that of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory compound in the commercial pain-killer.

This is a significant discovery because scientists believe to an increasing extent that inflammation plays an important part in a variety of chronic diseases like stroke, heart disease, and breast and lung cancer.

The researchers say their findings raise the possibility that long-term consumption of oleocanthal may help to protect against some diseases.

The findings may also help explain the health benefits long attributed to the olive-oil rich Mediterranean diet.

The research is published in the science journal Nature.

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