Olive trees have been cultivated for many thousands of years, with the oil from the olives being used for a wide range of purposes. Including olive oil in your diet regularly can contribute to optimum health for many reasons!
Oleic acid is one of the most exciting aspects of olive oil when it comes to nutritional value. This monounsaturated fatty acid is great for the health of your heart and helps to combat free radical damage. Olive oil also contains beneficial amounts of vitamin E and vitamin K.
The abundance of polyphenols in olive oil make it great for combatting inflammation in the body. A moderate amount of inflammation is actually helpful for optimum health. However, when this inflammation becomes chronic then this will become quite harmful to the body. Chronic inflammation can lead to the onset of several serious diseases, such as diabetes, Alzheimers and cardiovascular disease.
The high antioxidant count of olive oil has led many medical professionals to suggest that it could be beneficial for cancer prevention. Antioxidants work to prevent free radical damage in the body, which is a leading cause of adverse health conditions.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the world. However, heart disease is less common in areas of the world where the Mediterranean diet is prevalent. The Mediterranean diet is high in heart healthy fats, and olive oil is a prominent feature.
Foods that contain high levels of monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, are known to protect the heart by reducing LDL cholesterol levels and giving HDL cholesterol a boost.
Consuming an adequate amount of healthy fats can aid weight loss efforts. This is due to how healthy fats help to maintain blood sugar levels through the control of insulin production. Healthy fats can also help us to feel full for longer which lowers the risk of overeating.
The brain requires a certain amount of fatty acids in order to function well, and studies have shown that consuming an ample amount of these fatty acids can help to improve both memory and concentration.
It has also been suggested that the fatty acids found in olive oil can help to combat the cognitive decline associated with ageing. This is due to how effectively these fats can reduce oxidative stress and combat inflammation.
The health and appearance of our skin can be compromised by many things, especially the UV light that we are generally exposed to daily from the sun. Free radicals can also affect the appearance of our skin, and inflammation will also be of detriment to skin health.
Olive oil is great for helping to give skin health a boost due to the high levels of vitamin E it contains. This vitamin is fantastic for hydrating our skin, healing our skin, and helping to combat skin conditions, such as acne and eczema.
Using Olive Oil
Olive oil has a low smoke point, and this means it shouldn’t be heated at high temperatures. If you do try to cook with it then the oil will likely become rancid. Rancid oil can have some damaging health consequences as free radicals will develop. It is best if you drizzle it over your food, or use it to create salad dressings.
Choosing the Best Olive Oil
There are many different types of olive oil on the market today, and it is important to know that they are not all the same when it comes to taste, quality and the nutritional benefits. Some varieties of olive oil may be mixed with other oils or watered down in other ways.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is created through a process of cold-pressing that does not require any chemicals. This is the healthiest variety of olive oil, largely because the nutritional profile will not be affected during the production process by heat, chemicals or refinement.
Virgin Olive Oil is the result of a second pressing process and is not considered to be as high in quality as extra virgin olive oil.
You may also come across light olive oil and olive oil blends. These oils will have been made through processes that involve both heat and chemicals. They will likely contain rancid oils that have not responded well to the manufacturing process.
If you want to enjoy the many health benefits of olive oil then it is best to always opt for the extra virgin variety and ensure that it has been cold-pressed. This will be more expensive than other lesser quality products available and this will be evident in the taste! Purchasing olive oil that is sold in a dark bottle is also a good idea. A dark bottle will mean it has been protected from light damage which can cause the oil to spoil. It is also a good idea to store your oil in a dark place to help with this.