There’s more to it than taste
There are so many documented health benefits from including olive oil in your diet, that it is considered a functional or super food – food that has a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition. Just consider this list of conditions that olive oil has been effective for:
High Blood Pressure
People on high blood pressure medications may be able to reduce the amount of medicine they take if they substitute extra-virgin olive oil for other types of fats in their diet, a study the journal Archives of Internal Medicine reports. “The most important finding in a study was that the daily use of olive oil, about 40 grams per day, markedly reduces the dosage of [blood pressure medication] by about 50% in hypertensive patients on a previously stable drug dosage.”
Eating a healthy diet with olive oil as the main source of fat could considerably lower cancer incidence. The reason is that the cell mutations caused by cancer are partly due to toxins which, when consumed through the diet, attack DNA. On passing through the liver, these toxins produce free radicals that then attack DNA. To combat such free radicals, the body needs vitamins and antioxidants like those contained in olive oil.
Olive oil is the main source of fat of the Mediterranean diet, which has been shown to be effective against oxidative stress associated diseases and also with ageing. Besides its richness in monounsaturated fatty acids, olive oil contains minor components with antioxidant properties.
Olive oil may reverse heart failure, scientists believe, after finding it helped diseased muscle to pump blood more effectively. The health-boosting properties of a Mediterranean Diet are well known. Researchers at the University of Illinois have discovered that oleate, the common fat in olive oil, helps failing hearts to use body fat as fuel.
An olive-oil-rich diet is not only a good alternative in the treatment of diabetes; it may also help to prevent or delay the onset of the disease. How it does so is by preventing insulin resistance and its possible pernicious implications by raising HDL-cholesterol, lowering triglycerides, and ensuring better blood sugar level control and lower blood pressure.
The results of a recently published study suggest that regular consumption of olive oil may reduce the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. According to the authors of the study, the people on diets containing high levels of olive oil had less risk of suffering this disease. The study found that the people who consumed less olive oil had 2.5 times more possibility of developing rheumatoid arthritis than those who consumed it more frequently. Although the mechanism involved is not yet clear, antioxidants are suspected to exert a beneficial effect.
Olive oil is a nutrient of great biological value. Like all other fats and oils it is high in calories (9 Kcal per gram), which could make one think that it would contribute to obesity. However, experience shows that there is less obesity amongst the Mediterranean peoples, who consume the most olive oil. It has been demonstrated that an olive-oil-rich diet leads to greater and longer-lasting weight loss than a low-fat diet. It is accepted better because it tastes good and it is a stimulus to eat vegetables.
The results of a study announced February 2011 into the possible treatment methods for osteoporosis found that olive oil could play a role in both the future development of drugs as well as in the dietary requirements of patients. Olive oil will not be the only solution in the continuing fight against postmenopausal osteoporosis but having performed well in the lab, scientists have concluded that it is a very promising candidate for future treatments of the disease.
Cooking with heart-healthy olive oil and using it for salad dressing may cut stroke risk, according to new research published online in Neurology. In the study, seniors who regularly used this healthy monounsaturated fat had a 41% lower risk of stroke compared to their counterparts who never used olive oil.
A study conducted by Dr. NivaShapira from Tel Aviv University in Israel and Bob Kuklinski of Rockstock University in Germany found that olive oil, along with other components of a Mediterranean diet, may contribute to the prevention of malignant melanoma. Malignant melanoma, which is the most dangerous type of skin cancer, may be slowed down by consumption of olive oil, which is rich in antioxidants. The research showed that the body develops a resistance to the damaging rays of the sun due to carotenoids. Carotenoids are the color pigments found in fruits and vegetables such as watermelons, tomatoes, pumpkins and carrots. Olive oil has also been found to protect the skin against the damaging effects of UV rays.
Recent research has identified the antioxidant called oleocanthal, which is only found in extra-virgin olive oil. Scientists at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, in Philadelphia, found that oleocanthal in olive oil has a potency strikingly similar to that of the drug ibuprofen in inhibiting the cyclooxygenase (Cox) enzyme that causes pain and inflammation. Their findings were published in the science magazine Nature.
It has been documented that olive oil intake bolsters the immune system against external attacks from microorganisms, bacteria or viruses. Research has concluded that the fatty acids in the make-up of olive oil are good allies in lowering important immunological parameters such as the proliferation of lymphocytes induced by specific mitogens of both B- and T-cells. These fatty acids have been reported to play an important part in various immune functions. They are involved in regulating inflammatory processes and they may be effective in the treatment of some autoimmune diseases and in the regulation of the immune system in general.
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat, which research suggests helps prevent or slow down the cognitive decline associated with diseases like Alzheimer’s.
It’s not just vehicles that benefit from a regular oil change; extra virgin olive oil contributes to the operational health of such vital areas as the stomach, pancreas and intestines.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil Standards