Most of us know olive oil is heart-healthy and use it for sauteing or drizzling on our salad. But not all of us understand why it is healthy. Knowing what goes into your plate and why you must eat it is always useful. This article explains why olive oil is good for you, its medicinal properties, and its health benefits. So here you go.
What is olive oil?
Olive oil is a cooking oil made from pressing fresh olive fruits. The oil has a buttery pepper taste and a golden or dark green hue. Olive oil is a staple of Mediterranean diets and is vouched as one of the best cooking oils by nutritionists.
Why is olive oil healthy?
Olive oil has several medicinal properties that render it heart-healthy. Having healthy fats and being rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties makes olive oil one of the best cooking oils.
1. Has heart-healthy fats
Olive oil is high in healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA). Oleic acid (omega-9 fatty acids) is the predominant monounsaturated fatty acid, making up 73% of virgin olive oil content. The rest is 14% saturated fats and 11% polyunsaturated, such as omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. The MUFA does not lose its beneficial properties at high heat, making olive oil an ideal choice for cooking. In addition, healthy fats reduce inflammation and may also have beneficial effects on genes linked to cancer, lowering the risks of all types of cancer.
2. High in antioxidants
Besides the healthy fatty acids, olive oil is very high in antioxidants, such as oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol. This helps reduce inflammation and lower the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and arthritis. It also protects blood cholesterol from oxidation, thus lowering the risk of heart disease.
3. Possesses anti-inflammatory properties
Olive oil possesses excellent anti-inflammatory properties mainly due to the presence of Oleocanthal. Research also shows that Oleic acid in olive oil can reduce levels of key inflammatory markers such as C-Reactive Protein (CRP). Chronic inflammation is thought to be the leading cause of many lifestyle diseases. Hence, olive oil provides many health benefits when used as cooking oil and helps prevent many chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cancer, arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and even obesity.
4. Has vitamins E and K
Olive oil also possesses modest amounts of vitamins k, and E. Vitamin E is great for skin health and improves the body’s immune response. Your body needs vitamin K for blood clotting to help wounds heal.
A tbsp of olive oil contains 13% recommended value per day of vitamin E and about 7% recommended value per day of vitamin K.
With its many medicinal properties, olive oil enhances your body’s health.
5. Good for heart
Olive oil reduces inflammation, prevents LDL from oxidation, improves the lining of your blood vessels and protects arteries, and may help prevent excessive blood clotting. These all contribute to decreased risk of heart ailments, including stroke.
In addition, olive oil consumption lowers blood pressure, another important marker for heart disease and premature death. A study found that olive oil reduced the need for high blood pressure medications by 48%.
6. Good for brain
A human study found that a Mediterranean diet benefitted brain function. Beta-amyloid plaque build-up in the brain cells is a key feature of Alzheimer’s, the most common neurodegenerative condition in people. A study in mice showed that olive oil might help remove these plaques, thus improving Alzheimer’s.
7. Reduced risks of various diseases
Due to the presence of healthy fatty acids and antioxidants, olive oil consumption can reduce the risk of several diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis.
8. Helps manage a healthy weight
Many studies associate olive oil consumption with better weight management. One study found that there was a slight weight loss in people who switched to MUFA-rich olive oil from saturated fats. Another study also noted that a diet rich in MUFA suppressed fat accumulation, preventing weight gain.
To sum up,
Olive oil is undoubtedly a healthy cooking oil with heart-healthy fats and many bioactive compounds, including antioxidants. Regularly cooking with olive oil improves heart, brain, and bone health and also reduces the risk of several chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, cancer, etc.
Plenty of research has been done on the benefits of olive oil, and the popularity of the Mediterranean diet reaffirms it. However, you need not restrict yourself to olive oil alone. A mix of saturated fats (such as coconut oil and ghee), PUFA (such as sunflower oil) and MUFA (olive oil) and avoiding processed fats will help you have a sustainable diet that is healthy as well.