Olive oil is widely praised as one of the healthiest oils in the world.
In fact, in regions where olive oil is an essential part of the diet, people tend to live longer and healthier lives.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is the olive oil of the highest quality available, extracted from the olive fruit without any heat or chemicals.
In this article, based on the latest scientific evidence, we examine the major health benefits of adding Extra Virgin Olive Oil to your diet.
1 Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a perfect source of antioxidants and healthy fats
The regular olive oil is refined and important nutrients and antioxidants are stripped.
By contrast, the natural extraction process used to produce Extra Virgin Olive Oil ensures it retains all of the olive fruit’s nutrients and antioxidants.
It contains in particular over 30 different forms of phenolic compounds which are strong antioxidants that help protect the body from free radicals. Free radicals are cell-damaging molecules that contribute to disease and the aging process
Extra Virgin Olive Oil’s fat composition is also a significant contributor to its healthiness. It consists primarily of monounsaturated fat (about 73 per cent), a heart healthy fat that is a staple of the Mediterranean diet.
Studies consistently link a diet high in monounsaturated fat with beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease markers (heart disease and stroke). This includes reducing markers of chronic inflammation, blood pressure, levels of cholesterol, and blood glucose.
2 More olive oil will help to reduce the heart disease risk
Cardiac disease is the number one cause of worldwide premature death.
Interestingly, populations residing in Mediterranean regions have low death rates from cardiac disease. While this is due to a combination of factors, it is thought that their high consumption of Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a significant one.
The active compounds in Extra Virgin Olive Oil appear to have powerful cardioprotective properties, such as helping to reduce blood pressure and prevent atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
3 May protect olive oil against stroke
Stroke is the second-biggest heart attack killer.
It is closely associated with heart disease, and shares many of the same risk factors , such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
One French study comparing the use of olive oil and the incidence of stroke than those who consumed the highest amounts of olive oil had a 41 percent lower risk of stroke. Similar findings have also been found in numerous other studies
These findings make sense, because people who use olive oil in their diet are likely to replace other less heart healthy fats. Combine this with Extra Virgin Olive Oil’s strong antioxidant and monounsaturated fat content and it is obvious why it tends to have a beneficial impact on cardiovascular safety.
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4 Extra Virgin Olive Oil May help reduce your Type 2 diabetes risk
Type 2 diabetes is characterized by insulin ‘s reduced efficacy, the hormone that moves glucose ( sugar) out of the blood and into cells for energy use.
The phenolic compounds present in Extra Virgin Olive Oil are thought to aid in glucose metabolism and improve insulin sensitivity and efficacy.
A comprehensive analysis found that including olive oil in your daily diet could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 13%. A diet rich in olive oil was also found to help normalize blood glucose in people who have already developed type 2 diabetes compared to a low-fat diet.
Combined with a mediterranean-style diet, these beneficial effects are even more pronounced. One study found that a nut-enriched Mediterranean diet or extra virgin olive oil reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by more than 50 percent.
5 Extra virgin olive oil is the perfect oil for cooking
There are several different cooking oils, claiming to be the best.
However, considering the major factors affecting how an oil reacts to high temperatures – oxidative stability and monounsaturated fat ratio – Extra Virgin Olive Oil is number one.
While virgin coconut oil (due to its high saturated fat content) has similar oxidative stability, it is extremely low in antioxidants. By contrast, Extra Virgin Olive Oil contains rich antioxidants, such as tocopherols and hydroxytyrosol.
Moreover, if you regularly use an oil you must consider the known health effects of its primary fats. Saturated fat (coconut oil) has zero known benefits while monounsaturated fat (olive oil) appears to benefit heart health considerably over the long term.
Also more practical for cooking is Extra Virgin Olive Oil because it comes in a variety of different flavor profiles (like wine) and can complement both sweet and savory dishes.
6 Cooking with extra virgin olive oil can increase the nutrition of your food
Still not convinced your main cooking oil should be Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
Studies show that cooking with Extra Virgin Olive Oil may even boost your food’s nutrient content.
This is because the antioxidants are so resistant to high heat in Extra Virgin Olive Oil that they do not break down and end up being absorbed by the cooked food instead. It also helps the cooked food to retain certain nutrients which are usually lost by cooking.
For example , one study found that many beneficial compounds in the broccoli (such as vitamin C) were reduced when broccoli was cooked with sunflower oil or even refined olive oil. However the levels of these beneficial compounds remained unchanged when cooked in Extra Virgin Olive Oil
7 Consumption of olive oil may improve bone health
Olive oil, particularly polyphenol-rich ones such as Extra Virgin Olive Oil, can prevent bone loss with ageing.
Studies by both animals and humans suggest that olive oil can inhibit bone reabsorption (calcium breakdown) and increase bone formation.
A recent study of 870 participants appears to support this theory. They found that people who consumed the highest amount of extra virgin olive oil had a reduced risk of bone fractures by 51 percent.
This is an exciting prospect but further work is required as the majority of human studies were fairly limited in scale.
8 Olive oil compounds may protect against certain cancers
It’s known what and how we eat will affect the risk of cancer.
Observational studies have shown a lower occurrence of some cancers in regions where consumption of olive oil is high.
A large review of 19 previous studies showed that those with higher olive oil intake had a lower risk of breast cancer and digestive cancers.
How or why is not fully understood but researchers suspect that Extra Virgin Olive Oil ‘s unique oleocanthal content may play a protective role. Interestingly, oleocanthal is an antioxidant that occurs when Extra Virgin Olive Oil is malaxed and is not present in any other food … not even olives.
We can’t say for sure that Extra Virgin Olive Oil has anti-cancer properties but promises the early evidence.
9 A diet high in olive oil extra virgin may be good for brain health
Olive oil can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia associated with age.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil’s phenolic components can help clear off the compounds that cause brain degeneration.
One study compared a standard low-fat Mediterranean diet with an Extra Virgin Olive Oil enhanced diet and found those on the Extra Virgin Olive Oil diet suffered less cognitive decline (loss of brain function and memory) after 6.5 years of follow-up.
There is a need for further studies to validate these benefits but it is a promising field.
10 Olive oil can contribute to longevity and health
People tend to live longer in regions where olive oil is a central part of the diet.
More than 40,000 Spanish subjects over 13.5 years had been followed by a broad epidemiological analysis. Those who had the highest intake of olive oil were far less likely to die early than those who consumed the least amount of olive oil
As you can see, olive oil contains many beneficial substances and offers a range of health benefits, which means it can only be one of the healthiest oils available!
Make sure you always pick extra virgin olive oil for the full nutrient load, and try to purchase the best quality oil you can.
Do not forget, of course, that fats are still fats and extra virgin olive oil packs in 120 calories per tablespoon … so go easy on this liquid gold!