Olive Oil Health Benefits
The most important olive oil feature is a huge amount of two vital components: unsaturated fats and polyphenols. It is these two elements that are the basis and root cause of numerous olive oil health benefits. Yes, unsaturated fats and polyphenols make olive oil such a significant part of your balanced and healthy diet.
Tons of books, articles and blog posts have already been written about olive oil benefits. Why do we need another one?
To convince someone that olive oil is good for health? Hardly anyone doubts this. To tell something new? It won't work either. It is enough to google “extra virgin olive oil health benefits” or “is olive oil good for you?” and you are provided with at least a month of fascinating reading: from serious scientific research to poor copywriting nonsense like “100 Olive Oil Benefits Pulled Out of Thin Air, Made Up and Repeating Each Other in Different Words”.
Then why? Because this text must be on the website offering real olive oil from small family farms. And it must be written not by a scientist or a journalist, but by the people you buy olive oil from.
This is a kind of claim that our activities make sense and help improve people's lives. Because business only for the sake of money does not make someone happy. And doing something that doesn't make you happy is a form of slavery or insanity. Well, now we can move on to the topic.
Olive Oil Is Rich in Healthy Unsaturated Fats
The first and most important benefit of using olive oil: it is the most affordable, natural source of unsaturated fats that can be combined with almost all dishes.
Unsaturated fats are indispensable and essential elements in the daily diet of a person who has decided that he wants to be healthy.
Poly- and mono-unsaturated fats reduce the level of bad cholesterol in the blood, strengthen blood vessels and help normalize metabolism. You can find more about unsaturated fats here.
The mechanism of action of unsaturated fats on the cardiovascular system is not yet fully understood.
However, all studies confirm that they have an effect on lipid and glucose metabolism, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes and preventing the appearance of cholesterol plaques on the walls of blood vessels.
Unsaturated fats are found not only in olive oil, they also exist in other vegetable oils, as well as avocados, nuts, seeds and fatty fish.
Other vegetable oils (sunflower, rapeseed, corn…) are mostly produced industrially using chemical solvents. Unfortunately, it is now almost impossible to find these cold-pressed oils. As for olive oil, everything is also far from perfect but it is still possible to buy a real extra virgin olive oil in specialised stores, including web-stores.
Extra virgin olive oil health benefits lie not only in the high amount (about 80%) of unsaturated fats, but in the naturalness of the use of this product.
Unsaturated fats, like many other healthy nutrients, cannot be synthesized by our bodies on their own. They must come from outside and come regularly, ideally every day in an amount of about 40 grams. For example, 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil during a meal.
Unlike other sources of healthy fat (such as fish for example), olive oil can be added to all the usual dishes in your diet.
It goes well with eggs, meat, pasta, salads, cheeses, fish, seafood, boiled or stewed vegetables.
In addition, olive oil is one of the cheapest sources of unsaturated fats. You will need about 50 ml of olive oil to get your daily allowance. Considering the average price of 15 euros per litre, that's about 75 cents a day.
To get the same amount of unsaturated fats from fish, you would have to eat at least 300 grams of fish daily. This is many times more expensive, not to mention the fact that not everyone can withstand such a diet.
Thanks to its availability and practicality, olive oil has become an integral part of the Mediterranean diet. And for the same reason, fatty fish species have been successful in this task for many centuries in the regions of the Far North.
A little more about fat and calories to reassure those who are afraid of getting fat from olive oil. Here are some simple numbers and facts: butter contains 82% fat and olive oil contains about 90% fat.
But these are different fats and they do not affect the human body in the same way. After receiving 100 grams of butter, your body will absorb about 60 grams of fat while consuming 100 grams of olive oil, you will absorb no more than 30 grams of fat. All the rest will be disposed of, cleansing and healing the digestive system along the way.
It goes without saying that olive oil is the cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet.
It is difficult to find a Mediterranean dish that does not use olive oil as an ingredient or seasoning. At the same time, a huge number of studies prove that the Mediterranean diet with a high content of olive oil does not cause obesity, but, on the contrary, helps to fight overweight.
Olive Oil Contains a Huge Amount of Polyphenols
Another, equally important health benefit of olive oil is due to its high amount of polyphenols.
Polyphenols are antioxidants that have strong anti-inflammatory properties and help our body's cells fight cancer cells by reducing their activity.
Extra virgin olive oil has a high content (400 - 700 mg/L) of polyphenols not found in other oils. Polyphenol levels are highly dependent on the variety of olives and harvest time. Olive oil made from early harvested olives contains the most polyphenols.
As for the varieties of olives, the most polyphenol-rich olives are Hojiblanca, Istrian Belica, Picual and, of course, Сornicabra. Cornicabra is an absolute champion in polyphenol content. This olive oil contains 700 mg/liter of the main types of olive oil polyphenols: oleuropein, oleocanthal and elenolic acid.
The preventive effect of polyphenols against diseases associated with oxidative stress, such as cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases or cancer, is shown in the study "The effect of olive oil consumption on oxidative damage in a European population" promoted by the Eurolive project, which involved seven research centers from Spain, Denmark, Finland, Italy and Germany.
The polyphenols contained in olive oil are well absorbed by the human body when olive oil is consumed but are also excreted in a relatively short time. Therefore, it is recommended to regularly use extra virgin olive oil, especially early harvest olive oil, which contains more polyphenols.
So, these were two of the most important olive oil health benefits. Of course, there are others, as numerous studies show.
Here are some links to real scientific studies confirming the benefits of olive oil:
- Olive Oil Intake and Cancer Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
- Effect of Olive Oil Consumption on Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer, Type 2 Diabetes, and All-Cause Mortality: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
- Olive Oil in the Prevention and Management of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Cohort Studies and Intervention Trials
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil for Potential Prevention of Alzheimer Disease
- 20 Foods to Promote Lung Health and 5 to Avoid
- Adding More Olive Oil to Your Diet May Help Prevent an Early Death
All of the studies that have been conducted to investigate the effects of olive oil benefits have been based on human consumption of olive oil. It is important to understand that this was real olive oil but not a mixture of melted raw olive waste with chemical solvents that we can see in supermarkets. Rest assured, if scientists had bought olive oil from supermarkets, the results would have been exactly the opposite. So please be careful when buying olive oil. And here you can read in detail about how to choose real extra virgin olive oil.