Valentine’s Day Menu packed with anti-ageing tomatoes

Serves – 2
Preparation Time – 5 mins
Cooking Time – 10 mins
Tomato & Basil Soup
30ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 x 400g can CIRIO Pomodorini Cherry Tomatoes
1 tbsp CIRIO Tomato Purée
25g ciabatta bread, crumbled
4-5 fresh basil leaves
Croutons to serve
Preparation method:
1 Put the garlic and olive oil in a large pan and cook gently for a minute. Add the tomatoes, cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the tomatoes are really soft and concentrated. Add the tomato purée, 425ml water and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
2 Bring to the boil, then add the bread and stir until the bread absorbs the liquid. Cool slightly before stirring in the basil.
3 Blend until smooth in a food processor. Adjust the seasoning and serve with croutons and a drizzle more olive oil, if desired.
Serves – 2
Preparation Time – 30 mins
Cooking Time – 30 mins
CIRIO Oyster Stew.jpg
Olive oil
½ finely chopped onion
½ carrot (finely chopped)
½ celery stick (finely chopped)
3 cloves garlic (sliced)
½ bay leaf
½ bunch thyme
¼ bunch parsley
0.4 litres fish stock
1 x 400g can CIRIO Chopped Tomatoes
12 oysters (shucked)
Salt and black pepper
Preparation method:
1 Heat a good drizzle of oil in a large pot. When shimmering add onions, carrot, celery and garlic and cook until wilted. Add bay leaf, thyme, parsley, fish stock, and canned tomatoes and bring to a simmer; cook for about 15 minutes until vegetables are soft.
2 Turn off heat and add oysters and oyster liquor.
3 Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Serves – 2
Preparation Time – 15 mins
Cooking Time – 30 mins
CIRIO Pasta Piselli.jpg
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic
½ onion
2 anchovies
0.2 litres vegetable stock
Splash of white wine
Small pinch red pepper flakes
½ cauliflower
½ bunch asparagus
Cup frozen peas
1 x 400g can CIRIO Chopped Tomatoes
Handful toasted slivered almonds
250g Farfalle pasta
Freshly grate parmesan
Preparation method:
1 Fill a large saucepan with cold water and place over high heat (this is for the pasta).
2 Pour olive oil in another large saucepan and turn the flame on low. Mince the garlic and add to olive oil, let cook until just starting to brown. Slice the onion and add to the garlic and olive oil. Add the anchovies to the pan and mash them until they disintegrate.
3 Next, add the vegetable stock and white wine. Turn the flame up to medium-low, and allow the stock and wine mixture to reduce for a couple minutes.
4 Take the head of cauliflower and peel away the green leaves. Cut off the stalks and discard. Chop the cauliflower crowns into bite-sized pieces, set aside. Add the chopped cauliflower to the onion/garlic mixture, and season with red pepper flakes, to taste. Reduce the heat back to medium, and let the cauliflower cook, stirring frequently.
5 Snap the asparagus in half and cut into bite size pieces on the diagonal. Add the asparagus and the peas and cook for about 5 minutes. When the asparagus is almost tender, add the tomatoes. The tomatoes should stay chunky, so do not cook too long, or stir the sauce too much because the tomatoes tend to fall apart. Add toasted almonds and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Remove from heat.
6 When the pasta water comes to a rolling boil, add some salt and then the pasta. Keep the heat on high. Cook pasta until firm to the bite, al dente. Drain and transfer pasta to a warm bowl. Sprinkle with olive oil, and gently toss. Then add the sauce and gently toss again.
7 Garnish with Parmesan or Romano and serve.

Product review – Jergens Naturals Ultra Hydrating Body Moisturiser


Jergens 350ml [320x200].JPG

Jergens Naturals say their Ultra Hydrating body moisturiser is a real hero in combating dry skin and doubles skin hydration instantly. It will be ideal for soothing your skin in the coming winter months.

The moisturiser softens and quenches skin with a blend of Jojoba Oil, Avocado and Olive Oil, restoring skin to a state of pure comfort and natural well-being. Jergens Ultra Hydrating body moisturiser is made with 96% natural high quality ingredients. Jergens Naturals products deliver effective, ecologically responsible and natural products to women everywhere.

What our reviewers thought… It smells wonderful, but not overpowering. No clue to this is given on the beige bottle which is quite simply branded. The moisturiser itself goes a long way, don’t be too sparing as although it doesn’t soak in right away, it does so in a very short time.

 Putting on a reasonable amount gives a really good softening and smoothing effect on the skin and really makes a big difference on rough areas like elbows and knees even on first application. Overall, this moisturiser does what it says on the tin so we highly recommend it. Jergens Naturals Bodycare and Handcare is available in stores nationwide, including Boots, Superdrug, Waitrose and Sainsburys.

Fruit Kebabs with Chocolate Sauce

Fruit Kebabs with Chocolate Sauce


FB-Fruit-Kebabs-w-Chocolate-Sauce_p [640x480].jpgServes 4
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 5-7 minutes

Selection of seasonal fruit
eg: pineapple, nectarines or peaches, strawberries or kiwi fruit,
2 tbsp Filippo Berio Mild & Light Olive Oil
2 tbsp caster sugar
Chocolate Sauce:
3 tbsp Filippo Berio Mild & Light Olive Oil
75g/3oz dark chocolate
3 tsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp maple syrup

1. To make the chocolate sauce, put all the ingredients into a small saucepan, heat gently, stirring until the chocolate has melted and the sauce is smooth.
2. Remove the core from the peeled pineapple and cut the flesh into chunks. Halve the nectarines or peaches, remove the stones and cut into thick slices. Cut the kiwi fruit into quarters.
3. Thread the fruit onto skewers, brush with olive oil and dust with caster sugar. Place on a medium hot barbecue, cook for 5-7 minutes, turning to grill all over.
4. Serve with the chocolate sauce.
Fruity Ideas:
Pineapple slices: Dry fresh slices of pineapple on kitchen paper. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with caster sugar, then caramelise on the barbecue.
Bananas: select firm bananas and barbecue in the skins until charred and soft to the touch. Offer rum to pour over the peeled bananas and a bowl of the chocolate sauce.

Chocolate Mouse

Chocolate Mousse


FB-Chocolate-Mousse-LR_w [640x480].jpgServes 6-8
Preparation: 20 minutes

175g/6oz good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
3 large free range eggs, separated
100g/3oz golden caster sugar
3 tbsp very strong coffee, e.g. espresso
1-2 tbsp brandy (depending on taste)
100ml/7 tbsp  Extra Virgin Olive Oil


1. Break the  chocolate into a bowl, place over a small pan of simmering water and allow to melt. Remove the bowl from the pan and let it cool to lukewarm.
2. Meanwhile put the egg yolks and sugar into a large bowl and whisk until thick and
pale in colour. Whisk in the coffee, brandy and olive oil, then gradually fold in the melted chocolate.
3. Whisk the egg white until almost stiff, quickly fold in a large tablespoon to the
chocolate mixture until smooth, then add the rest of the egg white and lightly fold in, trying not to beat out the air.
4. Pour the mixture into 8 small china dishes or 6 large shot glasses and place in the
refrigerator until set.
5. Serve cold with fresh berries.

Cook’s tip:

Sprinkle some extra grated chocolate or flakes of chocolate over the top of each mousse, for an extra touch of luxury.

Sea Bass with Lemon and Dill

Sea Bass with Lemon and Dill
(barbecue recipe)



FB-Sea-Bass-w-Lemon-Dill-HR_p [640x480].jpgPreparation time: 10 minutes + marinating time
Cooking time: 15-20 minutes
Serves 4

2 medium sea bass, cleaned and descaled
6 tbsp Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 lemon sliced
Handful of fresh dill sprigs


1. Use a sharp knife to cut slashes in the fish skin. Mix the oil, lemon juice and half the dill together in a shallow non-metallic dish. Push the lemon slices and remaining dill inside the fish cavity. Place the fish in the marinade and spoon the juices all over and inside the fish. Cover and leave to marinate for at least 2 hours in the fridge, turning the fish at least once.
2. To barbecue, lift the fish from the marinade and place on a large piece of foil, fold over the foil and scrunch the edges to seal and make a tight parcel. Cook the fish over hot barbecue coals for 15-20 mins, turning once until the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Crispy Salmon with Marinated Crudités

Crispy Salmon with  Marinated Crudités


FB-Salmon-w-Marinated-Crudites_p [640x480].jpgServes 4
Preparation time
: 10-15 minutes + 1 hour marinating
Cooking time: 4-6 minutes

100g/4oz fennel
100g/4oz tomatoes
100g/4oz celery
100g/4oz salad onions, trimmed
50g/2oz flat leaf parsley
100g/4oz carrots, peeled
100g/4oz red radishes
50ml/3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Juice of 2 lemons
4 salmon steaks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
To garnish:
Lemon wedges
Sprigs of dill

1. Thinly slice the vegetables and chop up the herbs. Place them into a large bowl with 2 tbsp olive oil, lemon juice and seasoning. Allow to marinate for 1 hour.
2. Heat the remaining olive oil and pan-fry the salmon steaks on high heat for about 2-6 minutes each side or until crispy brown.
3. Put the salmon onto 4 hot serving plates served with the marinated vegetables.
4. Garnish with lemon wedges and sprigs of dill.

Cook’s Tip:
Replace the salmon with cod steaks or other seasonal fish.

Mediterranean Tuna with Tomato and Olive Sauce

Mediterranean Tuna with Tomato and Olive Sauce


Serves 4
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 6-8 minutes

4 tuna steaks
2 tbsp Filippo Berio Olive Oil
1 tbsp lemon juice

12 black olives, pitted
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
8 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 large vine-ripened tomatoes, skinned

1. Put the tuna steaks into a shallow dish, mix the olive oil and lemon juice together with a little seasoning, pour over the steaks and leave to marinate for 15 minutes while making the sauce.
2. Put all the ingredients for the sauce into a blender or food processor and blend together, transfer to a pan and heat gently.
3. Place the tuna on a pre-heated barbecue, hot enough to sear the fish for
3 minutes until the fish begins to mark.  Use a large fish slice to turn the steak and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, until well marked, his will depend on the thickness of the steaks.
4. Serve with the warm tomato and olive sauce.

Linguini with Crab

Linguine with Crab
(Linguine alla Polpa di Granchio)



FB-Linguine-with-Crab [640x480].jpgPreparation:  5 mins
Cooking: 10-15 mins
Serves 4

450g linguine
5 tbsp Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 red chillies, deseeded and sliced
6tbsp dry white wine
1 (170g) can white crabmeat, drained and juices reserved
3 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.  Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water for 10 mins or according to packet instructions.
2. Meanwhile, heat 3 tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan and gently fry the garlic and chillies for 2 mins. Add the white wine and reserved crab juices to the pan and simmer for 2 mins or until reduced by half. Add the crabmeat and parsley to the pan and cook for 1 min or until hot. Season to taste
3. Drain the pasta and add the crab mixture, toss together. Drizzle over the remaining oil. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

Griddled Chicken with Conchiglie, Rocket and Asparagus

Griddled Chicken with Conchiglie, Rocket and Asparagus


FB-Griddled-Chicken-w-Conchiglie-LR_p [640x480].jpg 

Serves 4
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

225g (8oz) conchiglie (shell shaped) pasta
250g bundle of asparagus
4 tbsp Filippo Berio Olive Oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
4 skinless chicken breasts
50g packet rocket
120g sunblush tomatoes
40g (1 1/2oz) pine kernels, lightly toasted in a dry frying pan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling water for 10 minutes. Trim the woody ends off the asparagus and cut into 5 cm (2″) lengths, place in a steamer, place over the boiling pan of pasta and cook for 5 minutes until tender crisp. Remove and set to one side while continuing to cook the pasta.
2. Meanwhile, heat the griddle pan or heavy frying pan, brush the chicken portions with a little of the oil then place on the griddle pan and cook over a medium high heat for about five minutes on each side or until cooked (the juices should run clear when a skewer is inserted in the centre of the breast). While the chicken is cooking, put the remaining oil in a bowl with the vinegar and mustard, season with salt and pepper and whisk together.
3. When the pasta is cooked, drain well then return to the pan. Roughly chop the rocket and add to the pasta with the asparagus, tomatoes and pine kernels, add the dressing and mix well to combine. Divide between 4 warmed  plates and top with the chicken breast.
For a vegetarian alternative, replace the chicken breast with cubes of mozzarella.

Kick-start your New Year diet – win a luxury Marruchetone olive oil duo


London: Elixir has joined with Wine & Food Promotions to offer six readers the chance to win one of Marruchetone Extra Virgin olive oil’s special gift packs.

Each set is worth £25 and contains two bottles of oil – one 250 ml bottle of Armonia type oil which is mellow and made from the Fantuio olive and a 250 ml bottle of Brio from the Leccino which produces a more intense flavour.

This is a very special and unique olive oil pressed from olives grown on the Fattoria Varramista, a farm on the estate of one of the favourite homes of the Agnelli family, near the village of Capalbio, Maremma, Tuscany and was pressed after the autumn 2009 harvest. It is extra virgin and grown organically.

It is suggested that the Armonia (mellow tasting) is used for Vegetables, fish, soups, meats, pastas (just a drop) and the Brio (intense) for salads, on carpaccio and meats. Or why not try dipping some rustic bread into the oil to taste all the wonderful flavours?

Medical experts agree that olive oil is one of the healthiest oils, complementing and enhancing the beneficial nutrients in the vegetables and other ingredients of the Mediterranean Diet. So why not kick off your New Year health resolutions by sampling this wonderful and unique oil?

If you would like to win one of these olive oil gift packs please email us with your name, address (please put Oil in the email header) to and answer the following question:

Which part of Italy does Marruchetone olive oil come from?
1. Venice
2. Tuscany
3. Sicily

Please note that this competition closes on 25 January 2009. No cash equivalent is offered and the Editor’s decision is final.

To enquire about this product, including a special case of six which costs £120 go to
Enquiries to

Technical details:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil first pressing 2009;
Single estate;
Region: Tuscany, Maremma, Capalbio;
Picked and pressed within the estate;
Olive variety: Frantoio;
Acidity: 0.14
Color: Intense green;
Flavor: Fruity
Box dimension: cm 20-15-7
Price GBP 25.00 per box, pp included;
Price for case of 6: GBP 120.00, pp included.

Competition Start Page – The only competition start page you will ever need, find competitions in the UK.

Filippo Berio Recipe of the Day – Butterfly Lamb


Try this recipe from, Filippo Berio, the makers of one of Italy’s favourite olive oils.

Italian Butterfly Lamb

Serves 6-8

Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus overnight marinating

Cooking time: 40 minutes, plus 15 minutes standing

1 leg of lamb, approx 1.8 kg/4lb, boned

3 large sweet onions

Filippo Berio Olive Oil

Sun-Dried Tomato and Balsamic Vinegar Marinade:

120ml/8 tbsp Filippo Berio Olive Oil

3 garlic cloves, crushed

4 tbsp sun-dried tomato paste

4 tsp dried oregano

5 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp salt


1. Open out the boned leg of lamb, discard excess fat, and cut through the centre slightly so the meat can be laid out in a long flat piece. Put into a large dish.

2. Mix the marinade, and pour over the lamb, turning it so it is covered all over. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

3. Bring the lamb to room temperature before cooking. Peel and thickly slice the
onions, brush with oil on both sides.

4. Place the lamb on a medium hot barbecue, and cook for 20 minutes each side. Transfer the lamb to a carving board, cover with foil and stand for 15 minutes before carving.

5. Meanwhile, cook the onion slices on the barbecue and serve with the lamb.

Cook’s tip: Ask the butcher to bone the lamb or buy a joint that has been boned and rolled, then remove string and unroll.

Recipe of the day – Zucchini and Pea Frittata


High in protein and essential vitamins and minerals this is a perfect light lunch or supper – and it won’t taste the same without good olive oil. And its a healthy fat too!

When fresh peas are available this is a great way to eat them, thawed frozen peas can always be substituted. This frittata also tastes delicious if mint is added instead of tarragon. Note also that courgettes/zucchini are the same thing!

Zucchini and Pea Fritta from the experts at Filippo BerioServe 4-6

Preparation time : 10 minutes

Cooking time : 15-20 minutes

175g (6oz) freshly podded peas (about 450g in pod) or frozen, thawed

4 tbsp Filippo Berio Mild and Light Olive Oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

3 medium courgettes, trimmed and thinly sliced

8 large eggs, beaten

2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon

2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley

25g (1oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. If using freshly podded peas, drop them into a small pan of boiling water and cook 2 minutes then drain.

2. Heat a 23cm (9”) non-stick frying pan and add the oil. Cook the onion for about 3-4 minutes over a medium heat until softened then add the courgettes. Fry the courgettes for 5 minutes or until they begin to soften. Meanwhile preheat the grill.

3. Add the drained peas and herbs to the pan.

4. Beat the eggs and season then pour over the vegetable. Reduce the heat and cook for about 5 minutes or until the eggs are almost set. Carefully lift and edge of the frittata with a palette knife to check the underside which should be golden.

5. Scatter the Parmesan cheese over the frittata and put under the grill for 1-2 minutes or until just set and golden.

6. Cut the frittata into wedges and serve warm or slide onto a plate and serve cold for a picnic with crusty bread.

For more information:

Omega 3 – What is it – a briefing from the experts at Croda

Getting the balance right!

There are three types of fat: saturated, monosaturated and polyunsaturated which divide into two groups of essential fatty acids (EFA’s): omega 3 and omega 6 – essential because the body cannot make them on its own – between which there needs to be a strict balance. Today’s Western diet has resulted in an imbalance between the essential fats which holds potentially detrimental effects to long-term health.

Before trans fats and processed foods were added to our diets, the ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fats was about 4:1 – a ratio associated with a 70% decrease in total mortality rate in the secondary prevention of heart disease. One recent study found that the ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fats consumed today was closer to 16:1.

Other researchers say that the typical Western diet contains 11-30 times more omega 6 than omega 3 fats. And in a study of asthmatic patients, a 10:1 ratio was associated with adverse conditions.

Why does this matter? When the ratio between them becomes imbalanced, that is, when omega 6s overwhelm the omega 3s, the body experiences inflammation, which can result in serious chronic inflammatory conditions, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, asthma and some auto-immune disorders.

The basics

Your daily intake of omega 3 can come from oily fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines and fresh tuna plus certain plant oils, such as olive and flax. As a guideline, the Department of Health recommends 2-3 portions of oily fish per week for adults.

On average, people in the UK eat only a third of a portion of oily fish a week. Over seven out of 10 do not eat any at all. The table below indicates mean % UK population consumption of fish per week:

Consumption/week Males Females Total
Total Fish 28.5% 22.5% 25.2%
White Fish 31.2% 21.3% 25.7%
Oily Fish (excl. canned tuna) 26.4% 23.6% 24.8%
Shellfish 17.6% 15.8% 16.6%

For those who find it difficult to consume the advised weekly fish allowance, especially for those who are not keen on eating fish, or as an additional fish source for those who do, omega 3 supplements are an ideal option. The best choices come in a concentrated liquid or capsule format and adults should take at least the Joint Health Claims Initiative (JCHI), recommendation of 450mg per day to gain the maximum benefit.

Not all omega 3 is equal
Omega 3 supplements are made up of three main long chain fatty acids, EPA, DPA and DHA which come in different concentrations and at different price points. To ensure that you get the best out of your supplement you should take one with the highest concentration of the fatty acid that meets your needs:

Signs of best quality
Check the ingredient list on the pack to find out the content and dosage of each fatty acid. Look for more of EPA and DPA if you are taking omega 3 for heart health and DHA for brain health. Remember you are looking for a minimum omega 3 content of 450mg for the supplement to be beneficial.

Croda has developed the PureMax sign of quality. Products displaying the PureMax logo have gone through a unique purification and concentration technology process. The process removes heavy metals, environmental pollutants and oxidative impurities to ensure the highest quality oils. The end products have minimal impurities and contain the selectively concentrated fatty acids. Higher concentration offers greater consumer convenience, improved palatability, better dose compliance and greater cost-efficiency.

Benefits of the key fatty acids

EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid)
• Helps improve blood flow, reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke
• EPA has been shown to impart an antithrombotic effect by reducing blood clotting
• Proven to have preventative effects on atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
• Dietary intake of EPA can improve the balance of LDL and HDL cholesterol
• Dietary intervention with EPA may reduce vascular inflammation which can alleviate rheumatoid arthritis and reduce joint inflammation
• EPA contains mood balancing properties and can enhance brain function

DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid)
• Improving brain function – DHA has been shown to improve mood disorders such as depression and positively affect mental function and curb aggression
• DHA supports eye health, helping to improve overall eye function
• Pregnant and nursing mothers can improve the intelligence and happiness of their babies with DHA
• Like EPA, DHA can improve cardiovascular health help lower blood pressure
• Can improve the health of skin, nails and hair
• Can help prevent the development of allergies and protect against the symptoms of hay fever, sinus infections, asthma, food allergies and eczema

DPA (Docosapentaenoic Acid)
• DPA stimulates endothelial cell migration with an effect up to 10 times greater than EPA, which may enhance the reduction of atherosclerosis
• DPA helps prevent the formation of blood clots which can block arteries and cause heart attacks or strokes
• The levels of DPA in serum phospholipids can help prevent coronary heart disease
• DPA has been positively linked with a reduction in the risk of peripheral arterial disease in smokers

Sources of omega 3
There are two main sources of omega 3. Marine fish oil and a vegetarian source of omega 3 containing Stearidonic Acid (SDA, C18:4 n-3) derived from echium oil.

Omega 3 is increasingly becoming a part of other food sources, largely by fortification. Fortified foods include margarine spreads, milk, yogurts, bread and certain eggs. However, to receive the JHCI recommendation of 450mg daily to help maintain a healthy heart, the amount you would need to eat of each of these is substantial. The following table illustrates how fortified foods contribute to an omega 3 enriched diet: –

Source: Croda Healthcare

It is unlikely that anyone would wish to swallow 164g of low fat spread or drink nearly two litres of milk per day. However, low levels of omega 3 can be gained from these sources; a balanced diet with a healthy awareness and intake of omega 3 fatty acids is beneficial.

• Visit for up-to-the-minute information about fish oil supplements

• References:
o Arterburn LM, Bailey E, Oken H; Distribution, interconversion, and dose response of n-3 fatty acids in human, Am J Clin Nutr, 2006, 83, 1467S-76S
o Barton CL, Next-Generation Nutraceuticals . Food and pharma convergence in disease prevention and personalized nutrition, Business Insights Ltd, 2006
o Calder PC, Grimble RF; Polyunsaturated fatty acids, inflammation and immunity, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2002, 26 Suppl 3, S14-S19.
o Gorman C, Park A, The Secret Killer. The surprising link between inflammation and heart attacks, cancer, alzheimer’s and other diseases, TIME, 2004, Feb
o Government Articles

Secret of olive oil is anti-ageing

Rome: New research has pinned down why extra-virgin olive oil, a staple of Italian cuisine, helps the nation’s inhabitants avoid tumours and other diseases in their later years.

The results of a nine-year study of Italians living in the olive-rich southern region of Puglia showed recently that they were statistically less prone to cancer and other ailments because they consumed the oil all their lives .

Now researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia have discovered precisely why this is the case .

They have identified in extra-virgin olive oil a molecule which is similar to ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory agent contained in several over-the-counter painkillers .

They believe that the molecule, which they have called ‘oleocantale’, is the key element which gives olive oil its legendary properties .

If assimilated over a long period of time, it can mean a person is protected from tumours and other problems that regularly crop up when a person becomes old, they say .

The research, which finally offers scientific support for what doctors and nutritionists have said for years, appears in the September edition of the journal Nature .

The discovery comes just five months after scientists at Bari University’s Geriatrics Department offered convincing statistical evidence that olive oil is a real ‘elixir of life’ .

Unveiling a nine-year study of over 700 people in Puglia aged 65-84, they said extra-virgin olive oil clearly has a string of health benefits such as its ability to combat chronic diseases and, above all, guard against tumours .

The survey aimed to assess the role of diet, and in particular intake of monosaturated and polysaturated fatty acids, on ageing and death .

The 704 Puglians ate a typical Mediterranean diet in which fat (17.6% monosaturated fatty acids, 3% polysaturated and 8.4% saturated) accounted for 29% of total energy intake .

Extra-virgin olive oil provided 85% of the monosaturated fatty acids .

The latter were associated with reduced mortality, for all causes, the study said. In particular, 15 grammes a day of monosaturated fatty acids cut deaths among over-65s by a fifth .

“This is proof that not only is olive oil a healthy food product but a splash of it a day helps prevent tumours,” said Professor Giorgio Calabrese of the National Authority for Food Safety .

An Athens University study also showed recently that the mortality rate among the elderly was significantly lower in Mediterranean countries like Greece, Spain and Italy .

Nutritionist Antonio Migliaccio commented: “Extra-virgin olive oil has great anti-oxidant powers and is therefore recommended in low-calory diets. It also increases so-called good cholesterol and lowers bad cholesterol.”