Olive oil is considered as being a liquid gold as it adds taste to our food but is also one of nature’s healing wonders. It just so happens that nature has provided us with a food that the dietary fats contained in this magic oil, are in the exact ratio that human beings need them. Below are some of the main health benefits of olive oil.
Heart Benefits – Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat and antioxidants like chlorophyll, carotenoids and vitamin E. The Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) also known as the “bad cholesterol” transports and deposits cholesterol in the tissues and arteries, which can eventually block the arteries leading to deficient blood flow and all kinds of heart problems. The high levels of monounsaturated fats found in the oil not only lower LDL levels protecting you from atherosclerosis, but also allow the High Density Lipoproteins (HDL) the “good cholesterol” to clean the cholesterol away from the arteries.
Inflammation Benefits – The healthy fats in olive oil are used by the body to create natural anti-inflammatory agents which help reduce the severity of both arthritis and asthma. Cell membranes that are not inflamed are able to transport healthy nutrients into the cells and move the waste products out.
Cancer Benefits – A study published in the January 2005 issue of Annals of Oncology (which is a peer-reviewed medical journal of tumors and cancers), showed that a monounsaturated fatty acid found in olives called oleic acid, has the ability to reduce the affect of an oncogene. An oncogene is a gene that in certain circumstances transforms a cell into a cancer cell.
Another research which included over 36,000 participants conducted by the University of Athens revealed that high rates of olive oil consumption, is associated with lower odds of having any type of cancer.
Diabetes Benefits – A Spanish study published in the Scientific Journal Diabetes Care revealed that a Mediterranean style diet, rich in olives, reduces by almost 50% the risk of type II diabetes when compared to a low fat diet. Previously it was prescribed that a low fat diet can prevent various diseases such as heart diseases and diabetes, whereas it now appears that it is the “type” of fat that counts rather than the actual amount of fat. Adding olive oil to your diet can also lower your triglyceride levels. Many diabetics live with high triglyceride levels which increases their risk for heart diseases.
Weight-Loss Benefits – Being overweight goes hand in hand with high levels of cholesterol, heart disease and other ailments. In a study conducted and published in the September 2003 issue of the British Journal of Nutrition, it was found that a significant loss of body weight and fat mass can be achieved by changing only one eating habit; the substitution of saturated fats with olive oil.
By merely switching to monounsaturated fats from saturated fats, you will not only lose that extra weight, but also help you fight against other diseases. By also adding a regular regimen of exercise, you’re on your way to an overall healthier lifestyle.
Other Key Facts of Olive Oil
– Olives are made up of 18 to 28 percent oil, in which about 75 percent of that oil is heart healthy monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA).
– Color is not a factor. The greener oil comes from green olives whereas the black olives yield a lighter color oil.
– 98 percent of the world’s olive oil production comes from just 17 countries.
– It does not penetrate foods but rather coats them, so when foods are fried with olive oil they are less greasy than by using other oil varieties.
– By using olive oil in your baked goods such as cakes, you can extend their freshness thanks to the vitamin E.
– It has been used over the years for many things including reducing muscle aches, hangovers, laxative and sedative, and even as an aphrodisiac product.
There is no doubt that olive oil is healthy and considered as a “super food”, but like all foods that are beneficial to us, you cannot go overboard when consuming them. Even though olive oil contains healthy fats, it is still high in calories and should be used with moderation. It is thought that about 4 tablespoons of olive oil a day can add to your healthy diet.