They certainly don’t look alike or taste alike for that matter, but olive oil and breast milk are surprisingly similar.
Extra virgin olive oil contains omega 3 and omega 6 in similar portions to breast milk fat and the same percentage of linoleic acid making it an indispensable food for the myelination of nerve fibres and brain development. It is easy to digest and helps gastric functioning, preventing the phenomenon of constipation and colic.
Olive oil helps in the absorption of vitamin D, important for growing babies and children because it regulates calcium and phosphorus and encourages the intake of minerals that are essential to the process of ossification. This gives children added protection against bone fractures in their tender years and the risk of osteoporosis in old age.
In recent findings there have been a rise in cholesterol levels in children, a great contributor to obesity that affects one out of three children between 6 and 9 years of age. Since olive oil lowers the levels of total blood cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides, doctors have recommended replacing animal fats with olive oil to help combat the rising obesity in children.
There has also been a reportedly lower risk of asthma in mothers who have consumed a consistent amount of olive oil throughout pregnancy. Their babies have been found to have a more developed immune system, lower risk of rhinitis and allergies.
Olive oil is even said to be effective in curing cradle cap. Applied to the parts of the head affected by cradle cap before normal cleansing, olive oil’s hydrating properties can act as a natural remedy.
In Italy doctors strongly recommend using olive oil in solids for babies that are being weaned off breast milk. They even recommend adding it in a baby’s bottle of expressed or even formula milk to gain the benefits of the substance; especially for babies suffering from colic. This is because olive oil can facilitate the natural gastric process and it contains oleuropein, a natural anti-inflammatory substance that reproduces the natural effects of ibuprofen, the active ingredient widely used in the production of pain medication.
This was discussed in more depth by Dr. Saverio Pandolfi, from the Italian Institute of plant Genetics. The researcher said olive oil is the most similar food to breast milk for babies and he recommends starting with a teaspoon-full of high quality extra virgin olive oil in every meal prepared for the baby.
“Olive oil is not only pleasing to every child because it reminds him of breast milk, but even to those who have never had oil in their diet,” said Pandolfi, such as Eskimos or Africans.
Plasmon, one of the most popular baby food companies in Italy produces olive oil exclusively for weaning babies. It is made with olives produced and pressed in Italy only and using techniques that the company says ensures the oil maintains more of its health benefits.
The Mediterranean diet starts young in Italy.