About Me

Friday, February 4, 2022

International Cancer Day shouldn’t only be in February: Raising Cancer Awareness should be every day


Cancer affects almost all of us, no matter which country we live in or what age we are. The statistics are frightening.

According to World Cancer Day, 10 million people die each year from cancer. And equally disturbing, figures show that breast cancer is the most common form of cancer.

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we could bring those figures down?

Have a look at this study based on research for the book 7 Wonders of Olive Oil


The Mediterranean Diet Lowers the Risk of Breast Cancer


As women get older, their risk of getting breast cancer increases. They also have to put up with menopause, which has a definite influence on breast cancer. And life expectancies in Western countries are also increasing. This means that the proportion of women affected by breast cancer is continually growing.

The study is significant  because it focuses specifically on postmenopausal women, where the need for prevention and control is more vital these days

The data in this study was the first randomized trial to research whether a Mediterranean diet could protect women from breast cancer.

 It was a parallel study carried out in conjunction with studies on cardiovascular disease by PREDIMED (Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea).

PREDIMED researchers were primarily concerned with nutrition and heart disease, but the trial was also designed to follow the incidence of five different types of cancer, including breast cancer in older women. Researchers chose older subjects for this study, Spanish women between the ages of sixty and eighty, who were almost all menopausal. None of them had cardiovascular disease, but all had either type 2 diabetes or at least three of the significant cardiovascular risk factors that could bring on the condition; these included smoking, hypertension, or family history of diseases. They all had an average body mass index of 30; in other words, they were obese. This in itself is a known risk for breast cancer.

The researchers divided the 4,282 women into three groups:

·                  1,476 were put on a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil. All the women were given a liter of olive oil every week to ensure they followed the research team's specifications. These Spanish women use the oil anyway: it is what they are used to using --  Spain is the largest producer of olive oil.

·                  1,285 were instructed to follow the Mediterranean diet supplemented with 30 grams of mixed nuts daily. They received weekly supplies of nuts during the research period.

·                  1,392 received dietary training and were asked to follow a low-fat diet. After a follow-up period of about five years, the researchers found that thirty-five women had developed malignant breast cancer.

The results revealed that the women who followed the Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil showed a 68% lower risk than those who were on the control diet. 

Those in the second group with nut supplements showed a 40% lower risk of breast cancer than the control group.

The researchers said they hoped to see more people following the Mediterranean diet. They concluded that this was one way to reduce cancer, keep cardiovascular disease at bay, and improve overall health and well-being.

Just think, prevention of breast cancer might very well start in our own kitchens.



Monday, October 4, 2021

Why Switching to a Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle can change the way you look at Food

 The Mediterranean diet not only makes you more aware of what you put in your mouth, it connects you with the environment.

 Research over the years shows many health benefits of the Meditterrean diet but equally important,  this plant-based diet is also environmentally friendly.

The people of the Mediterranean region follow a dietary pattern, not a diet based on individual foods. Look at the choice of diets available today; almost all of them are full of constraints and restrictions. The Mediterranean diet on the contrary, lets you choose.

 More importantly, the Mediterranean diet offers a healthy lifestyle, food made with local ingredients, food that’s easy and practical to prepare. You can understand why it was again voted as the world’s best overall diet, best for diabetes, and a healthy heart.

And what’s good for humans is also good for the planet. Let’s see why:

A Mediterranean diet includes lots of vegetables  

Eating Less Meat and More Vegetables  

A weekly shopping list for a Mediterranean diet includes lots of seasonal fresh vegetables and fruit and very little meat.  Ideal vegetables include zucchini, avocados, tomatoes, melon; all are mostly grown locally, all low in fat, and rich in fibre. When you aim for fresh and local, it means you’re cutting out expensive junk food.

Does it seem like a poor man's diet?

Not really. The Mediterranean diet includes fish, poultry dairy products in moderation with very little red meat. These habits can reduce heart disease and other medical conditions brought on by the Western lifestyle.

Let’s face it, meat is expensive, and climate change is making food less accessible. According to researchers in Minnesota and Oxford,  red meat is 35 times more damaging to the environment than a bowl of vegetables.

Include Extra virgin olive oil every day in your diet

Olive oil, the primary source of fat in Mediterranean cuisine, is chockful of healthy nutrients, include it in your salads, on bread, and you can even cook with extra virgin olive oil.

Olive oil producers today are aware of their role in protecting the earth, doing their utmost to respect the soil. Marije Passos, an organic olive oil producer from Portugal, is a fine example. She says, “We have an all-natural approach, using only the climate, animals, and plants to fertilize and maintain our groves.”

Saving the planet doesn't only include work on the estate, as Marije explains:

“With a refillable organic painted glass bottle, our recyclable Bag-in-Box, and low-emission logistics, we hope to set a positive example for current and future generations to make a more positive environmental impact."

 Appreciating Family Life and Food

The Mediterranean diet is a family affair. It's not about the family eating at different times but about family gatherings where they plan food menus together, appreciate those who supply the food, and share the cooking.

The family meal is a nursery of democracy, observes  Michael Pollen, the American food writer.

He is right. Getting the family involved makes our children less reliant on convenience food. It gets them interested in sustainable practices for food production, to learn about how global climate impacts the planet.

With resources getting shorter and shorter worldwide and food availability precarious, shouldn’t we should aim for a simple, fresh, wholesome eating pattern and lifestyle?

 If we’re after a healthy body and a beautiful planet then it’s time to make a move.


A Mediterranean lifestyle means more family involvement 


 Photo credit: Matilde Langevin/ Splash

                      Alice Alech

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Sustainable Ship Transport: A Smart Solution for this Extra Virgin Olive Oil Producer


 If you make healthy extra virgin olive oil and care about the environment, you will want your olive oil to travel in the best sustainable transport manner.

Loading Passeite olive oil 

Meet the Passos family, makers of Passeite extra virgin olive oil from Portugal. 

Marije and her partner Guilherme live in the Condeixa-municipality about 115 kilometers from Porto. There’s no outside help at Passeite farm, the family farm. They are solely responsible for their 2,000 olive trees and making extra virgin olive oil. (EVVO).

They deliver their high-quality extra virgin olive oil
to their customers by ship transport using wind transport. And, what’s great is that sustainable transport doesn’t have to cost the earth.     

Marije Passos laughed when I asked her what made her leave her home in the Netherlands to live and work in Portugal making olive oil.

“Pure passion for olive oils, you can’t make olive oil in the Netherlands.”

It’s not been a smooth ride for the couple. The family has faced numerous challenges over the years. Most have been setbacks caused by climate change. “We’ve had floods, fires, hurricanes, and now it's the pandemic," Marije explained.

Despite these obstacles, Marije remains stoic and determined to adhere to sustainable practices for her extra virgin oils.

"Our EVVO Passeite is special because of the terroir. As we are close to the Atlantic, our olives are fruitier and softer, a lot more than other Portuguese varieties.”

But there are drawbacks, as Marije pointed out.

“Galega, the native variety is super fragile; it has alternate bearing fruit and is very sensitive to olive fly disease.  I’ve learned to be creative over the years. We make our own olive flytrap, an experiment to fight the fly without the use of synthetic chemicals.”

Choosing Sustainable transport

With so much enthusiasm, so much loving care on the farm you can understand why she wants Passeite oil to use the right transport - shipping cargo under sail puts the planet and people first.

The cooperative system involving similar small businesses   allows her to share transport costs with the entire sales chain – producer, ship, and customer. Transporting goods using wind power means lower energy consumption. Still, Marije says that it’s not only about numbers or carbon dioxide reduction but also about a more humane way of trading.

She added:

With the ship comes stories and experiences. I think this is what the world needs now. We need to know where our food comes from.”

“Lorry drivers would just pick up a palette and drive off. They couldn’t care less about what we are doing here at the farm. The sailors are enthusiastic, care about our products, and our customers collect the goods at the port of destination. It's a cooperative process that works well for us.”

What does being sustainable mean to this olive producer?

With graceful simplicity, she replied:

 “I don’t want to have my Passeite extra virgin oil in a supermarket. We just want to make a decent living so our children can enjoy growing up in the beautiful countryside. I want my children to grow up knowing where food comes from, how it’s made and have space to play.

 Success means different things to different people but to this young couple success isn’t about making loads of money, it’s about appreciating and maintaining their olive oil heritage. It’s also about building relationships with their customers, consumers who understand the importance of buying healthy organic olive oil and the positive impact of transporting goods by wind power today.





 photo credit Sergio Ferreira