The health benefits of olive oil are unrivaled, and research reveals more benefits nearly every day. In fact, we are only just beginning to understand the countless ways olive oil can improve our health and our lives. Olive oil is the cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet — an essential nutritional mainstay for the world’s longest-living cultures.
Populations from that region have longer life expectancies and lower risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) are considered a healthy dietary fat, as opposed to saturated fats and trans fats.
Olive oil is a fat obtained from the fruit of the Olea europaea (olive tree), a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean region, where whole olives are pressed to produce olive oil.
The oil is used in cosmetics, medicine, cooking, and soaps, and was also used as a fuel for traditional lamps. Although originating in the Mediterranean countries, today it is used worldwide. Greece has the highest olive oil intake per person in the world.
Over the last 50 years, there have been thousands of studies examining the health benefits of olive oil. Below are some examples:
Olive oil and the cardiovascular system
Olive oil is the main source of dietary fat in the Mediterranean diet, which is associated with a low death rate from cardiovascular diseases compared to other parts of the world.
The study found that people who regularly consume olive oil are much less likely to develop cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, and hyperlipidemia (high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels).
Regular olive oil intake helps reduce inflammation, endothelial dysfunction (problems with the inner linings of blood vessels) thrombosis and carbohydrate metabolism.
The goodness of the oil starts to show an effect from the first day of consumption. Research indicates that people who consume the oil in their food has lesser cardiovascular issues to face and seldom visit the doctor.
Frying with olive oil and heart disease risk
People who regularly eat foods fried in olive oil do not have a higher risk of heart disease or premature death. In a Mediterranean country where olive and sunflower oils are the most commonly used fats for frying and where large amounts of fried foods are consumed both at and away from home, no association was observed between fried food consumption and the risk of coronary heart disease or death.
Olive oil may help prevent stroke
The people who regularly used olive oil for cooking and salad dressing or with bread had a 41% lower risk of stroke. Stroke is so common in older people and olive oil would be an inexpensive and easy way to help prevent it.
After a certain age, people tend to have a lower metabolism and strength to endure stress. They tend to experience frequent strokes that may turn fatal after a certain time. The inclusion of olive oil in salads, dressing, cold meals, etc. has proven to keep the body fit and fine with lesser stroke rates.
Depression risk and olive oil
The consumption of processed food containing trans-fats is known to affect the brain and its functions. It leads to lesser hormone production leading to depression. As the oil contains polyunsaturated fats, it has a good impact on the body and helps to keep the brain healthy.
People whose diets are high in trans fats – fast foods and mass-produced foods like pastries – may have a higher risk of depression. Olive oil appears to have a slight protective effect regarding depression risk.
The authors found that when who consumed trans fats regularly with individuals whose dietary fat consisted primarily of olive oil, the trans fat consumers had a 48% higher risk of developing depression.
Olive Oil Diet Reduces Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Traditionally a low-fat diet has been prescribed to prevent various diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. While studies have shown that high-fat diets may increase the risk of certain diseases such as cancer and diabetes, it appears that it is the type of fat that counts rather than the amount of fat. We now know that a diet rich in monounsaturated fats such as the ones found in olive oil, nuts and seeds actually protects from many of these chronic diseases.
A study published in the scientific journal Diabetes Care showed that a Mediterranean style diet rich in olive oil reduced the risk of type II diabetes by almost 50 percent compared to a low-fat diet. Type II diabetes is the most common and preventable form of diabetes.
Olive oil may reduce cancer risk
This oil has been proven to destroy cancer-causing elements in one’s body by stimulating the eradication of tumor cells, prevents the damage of DNA, etc. daily consumption of extra virgin olive oil helps reduce the chances of cancer and keeps the body healthy.
The researchers decoded a complete cascade of signals within the cells of breast tumors that are activated by virgin olive oil. They concluded that the oil reduces the activity of p21Ras, an oncogene, prevents DNA damage, encourages tumor cell death, and triggers changes in protein signaling pathways.
While corn oil – which is rich in n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids – increased the aggressiveness of tumors, virgin olive oil had the opposite effect. They demonstrated that virgin olive oil is linked to a higher incidence of benign (non-cancerous) breast tumors.
Olive oil helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels
A Japanese study published in the showed that LDL-cholesterol mean concentrations were lowered in 28 outpatients who were given olive oil supplements once a day for six weeks.
LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is often referred to as “bad cholesterol”. The “good cholesterol” is called HDL (high-density lipoprotein).
The study authors concluded, “These results point to an overwhelmingly beneficial influence of olive oil on the lipoprotein spectrum.”
Healthy option for women
The oil lets the woman’s body be strong. It fights osteoporosis, breast cancer, skin cancer, ovarian cancer, etc. and thus making a woman’s body strong to endure the possibilities of fatal health problems.
As the oil is rich in Vitamin, minerals and antioxidants, it is known to have healing properties to the skin which enhance the elasticity, reduces wrinkles, removal of fine lines, and prevents the skin from aging. It lets the skin stays supple without letting it loses its moisture. The oil is also used for body massage for adults as well as babies. While using it for babies, it aids in strengthening the bones and helps to develop their muscles.
Olive oil is also a natural and safe lubricant, and can be used to lubricate machinery that is used within the kitchen (grinders, blenders, cookware, etc.) It can also be used for illumination (oil lamps) or as the base for soaps and detergents. Some cosmetics also use olive oil as their base. Olive oil may be used in soap making, as lamp oil, a lubricant, or as a substitute for machine oil. Olive oil has also been used as both solvent and ligand in the synthesis of cadmium selenide quantum dots.