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Mediterranean diets on prescription

Dr Simon Poole speaking at a recent event on EVOO.
Dr Simon Poole speaking at a recent event on EVOO. / SUR
  • Dr Simon Poole will be giving a talk about extra virgin olive oil in Riogordo on Saturday

Dr Simon Poole will be giving a talk in English at the olive oil cooperative tour and talk in Riogordo tomorrow, Saturday 2 February.

Dr Poole, 55, is a Cambridge-based medical doctor, author and member of the Advisory Board of the Olive Wellness Institute, among a long list of well-known medical organisations. He is considered by his peers as an "internationally-renowned authority on the science, application and communication of the Mediterranean diet".

Dr Poole explains that he first became interested in the benefits of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and the Mediterranean diet about 15 years ago when he found himself producing prescription after prescription for people with heart conditions and weight problems. He started to read up on "lifestyle medicine" and alternative ways of preventing chronic diseases. Many of the articles he came across, he says, referred to the Mediterranean diet.

The family doctor says that he has "seen improvements" over the years in his own patients who have taken his advice about following such a diet and that his and other research has shown a 30 per cent decrease in illnesses such as heart disease, stroke and some cancers when sticking to the healthy eating plan that the diet provides.

He is co-author of a Gourmand International prize-winning book, The Olive Oil Diet, which has just been translated into Spanish and describes the role of extra virgin olive oil at the heart of the Mediterranean diet, relating the nutritional science to production, taste characteristics and health benefits. In the book he describes extra virgin olive oil as "the original super food" and Simon himself has been described as "the most passionate advocate of the Mediterranean diet and a tireless ambassador for good quality olive oil".

Living in Spain

During his talk, Simon will be explaining the benefits of following a Mediterranean diet which has extra virgin olive oil at its heart. He says that he would like to encourage the audience to "make the most of living in Spain" and to "connect with the community of olive oil producers".

He will touch on the links between the Mediterranean diet and health, as well as the nutritional value of extra virgin olive oil in terms of antioxidants and links to the reduction in some cancers and cardiovascular conditions. The doctor will also pay tribute to the work of local olive and olive oil producers.

On this occasion Dr Poole is flying from the UK to Malaga solely for the talk, although he says his work regularly brings him to Spain as well as other Mediterranean countries, including Italy. In 2017 he gave a talk to the Vatican Pontifical Academy Food Values initiative. While he says that he has tasted excellent extra virgin olive oil all over the Mediterranean, he admits that Spain, which is where he travels to most for his work with extra virgin olive oil, "produces exceptional oils" and that Spanish producers are "really starting to take pride in their oil and market it well, rather than sending it all to Italy". He also says that there is increasing interest in Mediterranean EVOO in the USA, in terms of export to the States and researching its health benefits.

It goes without saying that "extra virgin olive oil is the only fat" in Dr Poole's kitchen in Cambridge and that he uses it for cooking as well as in salad dressings. Further information can be found about Dr Poole online (www.fletcherassociates.net).