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What Are The Health Benefits Of Olive Oil?

Olive oil plays a significant role in the Mediterranean diet. It is antioxidant-dense and its primary fat source is monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which are considered a healthy fat by experts.

Olive oil’s antioxidants help protect the body from cellular damage, which can result in a variety of health problems and diseases. Although extra virgin olive oil has a harsh taste, it contains more antioxidants than other types due to its minimal processing.

Learn more about the health advantages of olive oil and some creative ways to use it in this article.

The Origin Of Olive Oil

Olive oil is derived from olives, the olive tree’s fruit. Olives are a Mediterranean staple crop and olive oil is produced by pressing the entire olive.

Olive oil is used in cooking, cosmetics, medicine, and soaps, as well as a fuel source for traditional lamps. Although olive oil originated in the Mediterranean, it is now popular throughout the world.

Olives are preserved in olive oil or salted water in the diet. They consume them whole or chop them up and include them on pizzas and other recipes.

They also use olive oil as a dip for bread, to drizzle over pasta, to cook, or to dress salads. For therapeutic purposes, some people ingest it.

Benefits

Numerous research has been conducted to determine the health advantages of olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil, the highest grade of oil available, is high in antioxidants, which aid in the prevention of cellular damage produced by molecules called free radicals.

The term “free radical” refers to molecules that the body produces through metabolism and other activities. Antioxidants act as a shield against free radicals.

When an excessive number of free radicals accumulate, they can induce oxidative stress. This can result in cell damage and may contribute to the development of certain diseases, including some forms of cancer.

  • Olive Oil’s Benefits On The Cardiovascular System

The Mediterranean diet’s primary source of fat is olive oil. When compared to people who follow other diets, those who consume this diet appear to enjoy a longer life expectancy, including a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases. According to some experts, it is “the gold standard in preventative medicine.”

A 2018 study compared the number of cardiovascular events among persons who followed a Mediterranean diet, which included olive oil or almonds, and those who followed a low-fat diet.

The Mediterranean diet, whether with olive oil or nuts, was associated with a reduced incidence of cardiovascular disease than the low-fat diet.

According to the authors of a 2018 analysis, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority recommended daily consumption of around 20 grams (g) or two tablespoons (tbs) of extra virgin olive oil to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and inflammation.

Meanwhile, according to the findings of a 2017 study, the polyphenols included in extra virgin olive oil can help to protect against cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, stroke, brain dysfunction, and cancer since polyphenols are an antioxidant class.

Stroke patients
  • Olive Oil Lowers The Risk Of Metabolic Syndrome

The metabolic syndrome is a collection of risk factors associated with an increased risk of disease, including obesity, hypertension, and diabetes.

According to the authors of a 2019 meta-analysis, olive oil consumption as part of a Mediterranean diet may help alleviate metabolic syndrome symptoms such as inflammation, blood sugar, triglycerides (blood fats), and low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol. In comparison, it appears to boost high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol levels.

  • Olive Oil Lowers The Risk Of Depression

In 2013, a rodent study was published which stated that the components of extra virgin olive oil can help to protect the neurological system and this further stressed the benefits of olive oil in the treatment of depression and anxiety.

Two years prior, scientists discovered that those who consumed trans fats, a type of unhealthy fat common in fast food and prepackaged baked products, were more likely to suffer from depression than those who consumed unsaturated fats such as olive oil.

  • Olive Oil Lowers The Risk Of Cancer
cancer patient

Several studies have proven that certain compounds in olive oil may help to reduce the incidence of breast cancer.

Olive oil includes chemicals that may help prevent colorectal cancer, according to research released in 2019. Antioxidants in olive oil have been shown in laboratory studies to help protect the body from inflammation, oxidative damage, and epigenetic alterations.

  • Olive Oil Prevents Alzheimer’s Disease

In 2016, several scientists indicated that increased consumption of extra virgin olive oil may help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. This may be related to its protective effect on the brain’s blood vessels.

According to the authors of a 2019 animal study, ingesting oleocanthal-rich extra virgin olive oil may help to reduce or stop the course of Alzheimer’s disease. Oleocanthal is a flavonoid found in extra virgin olive oil.

Alzheimer
  • Olive Oil Prevents Liver Damage

According to a 2018 review of laboratory studies, chemicals contained in extra virgin olive oil may aid in the prevention or healing of liver damage.

The MUFAs in the oil, the majority of which are oleic acid, and the phenolic components in the oil appear to help reduce inflammation, oxidative stress, insulin resistance, and other changes associated with liver damage.

  • Olive Oil Lowers The Risk Of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a condition in which the digestive tract becomes inflamed. IBDs include ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

A look ahead to 2019, phenols in olive oil may aid in improving intestinal immunity and gut health by altering the bacteria in the gut. This is beneficial for patients who have colitis or another type of inflammatory bowel disease. The authors concluded that additional studies are necessary to corroborate these findings.

  • Olive Oil Is Highly Nutritious

According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA), 1 tablespoon (tbsp) or 13.5 grams (g) of olive oil delivers the following benefits:

  • 119 kcal
  • 13.5 g fat, 1.86 g saturated fat
  • Vitamin E 1.9 milligrams (mg)
  • Vitamin K 8.13 micrograms (mcg)

Additionally, it includes trace amounts of calcium and potassium, as well as antioxidants such as polyphenols, tocopherols, phytosterols, squalene, and terpenic acids.

There are several ways to include olive oil in your diet such as:  

Drizzle olive oil
  • drizzle it over a salad or incorporate it into a salad dressing
  • pouring it over a slice of freshly baked bread
  • use it when preparing bread
  • frying or sautéing with it instead of other fats

You can also experiment with the following recipes:

  • Flatbread with rosemary and olive oil
  • Spaghetti marinated in olive oil, chili peppers, and garlic

Besides that, frying food in olive oil may help to preserve and even improve the nutritional value of the food. This is because the meal absorbs the antioxidants from the oil.