During my honeymoon to Greece I had the chance to visit the oldest-known olive oil tree in the world. Most olive trees can live more than 500 years, but this one is at least 2,000 years old! Given that Greeks consume 12.8 kilograms of olive oil per year — compared to four kilograms in North America — it got me thinking about the importance of these trees to their daily life. Greece’s increased consumption of this healthy fat shows why the Mediterranean diet has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and lowered cancer risk for those who follow it.

Let’s take a closer look at five benefits of adding olives and olive oil to your diet:

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1. They protect against colon, breast and skin cancer

Olives and olive oil contain an abundance of phenolic antioxidants as well as the anti-cancer compounds squalene and terpenoid. They also contain high levels of the monounsaturated fatty acid, oleic acid, which reduces excessive inflammation.

2. Olive oil is good for your heart

Olive oil contains biophenols, which suppress the oxidization of LDL (or “bad cholesterol”) which has been shown to play a role in the development of cardiovascular disease. High levels of LDL in the blood amplify oxidative stress which hardens the arterial walls (called atherosclerosis). The biophenols in olives reduce blood pressure, therefore reducing the development of arterial plaque as well.

3. They work to reduce pain

Olives contain a compound called oleocanthal that has strong anti-inflammatory properties, mimicking the action of ibuprofen. Olive oil naturally reduces the pain of chronic inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and can be added to a daily diet to aid in pain reduction.

4. Olives and olive oil may protect against ulcers

The antimicrobial properties in olives and olive oil may help to combat the bacteria responsible for causing stomach ulcers. Studies have shown their high levels of polyphenols protect against eight strains of ulcer-causing bacteria, three of which are resistant to some antibiotics.

5. Eating olives will help to boost your iron intake

Olives contain a substantial amount of iron, a key factor in the formation of hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen throughout the body via the bloodstream. Iron also helps to build the enzymes responsible for regulating immune function and cognitive development.

In order to properly reap these health benefits, you need to make sure the olive oil you’re buying is real. Often times olive oil can be mixed with lower grade oils like soy or canola oil and sold for the same price. To ensure the oil you buy is the highest quality, and most healthful, follow these tips:

Buy certified organic oil

If possible, try to find one that has paperwork to track the oil production from field to table.

Get to know what olive oil really tastes like

Often light olive oil doesn’t meet the standards of real extra virgin olive oil. Real extra virgin has a peppery and fruity taste. If you can’t taste the olives, you may have deodorized, cheap oil that could be soy or canola with some green colour added. The real deal is more expensive but worth the health benefits.

Buy oil packed in dark glass

The real stuff degrades in heat and light, so avoid the clear plastic bottles that could be leaching plastic into your next meal!

Once you’ve got your quality olive oil, and a selection of your favourite olives, try this lentil tapenade recipe:

Photo, Julie Daniluk.

Ingredients

2 cups (500 mL) lentils, well rinsed and drained
1 cup (250 mL) pitted olives (kalamata are a great choice)
1/4 cup (60 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh parsley or coriander, chopped
1 tsp (5 mL) lemon zest
3 tbsp (45 mL) lemon juice

Directions

Yield: Makes 3 cups (750 mL). Will keep for a week in the fridge.

Julie Daniluk hosts Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show that highlights the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her book, Meals That Heal Inflammation helps people enjoy allergy-free foods that taste great and assist the body in the healing process.

Originally published in November 2012; Updated January 2019.

It’s no secret that olives pack a powerful health punch. Pressed into cooking oil or eaten cured and whole, these little fruits are building a rep as excellent heart helpers, but the benefits go beyond just a cardiovascular boost. Know these major perks, and you’ll want to start living the Mediterranean way.

1. They’re the ultimate heart-healthy snack.

Olives are chock-full of monounsaturated fatty acids, a type of fat linked with lowering LDL (“bad” cholesterol) while maintaining HDL (“good” cholesterol”). The powerful antioxidant properties of olive polyphenols can also protect against oxidative stress and chronic inflammation, a key initiating factor of heart disease.

Plus, long-term evidence suggests that people who consume extra- virgin olive oil daily are at a lower risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular mortality than those who don’t.

2. They can improve circulation.

The plant-based compounds in olives can increase nitric oxide production, improving vascular function by promoting blood flow to your tissues. That’s beneficial for both short-term and long-term health, since better circulation enhances everything from sprints at the gym to overall risk of chronic disease.

Some types of olives can also provide up to 25% of your iron needs, an important mineral that helps deliver oxygen to your organs.

3. They’ve got anti-inflammatory benefits.

The polyphenols found in olives can help reduce chronic inflammation by stopping organ tissue damage before it starts. That said, olives are best known for their primary role in Mediterranean diets, which are full of health-boosting veggies, fruit, and 100% whole grains. That’s why it’s important to focus on improving your diet as a

whole instead of one meal or snack!

4. They may be beneficial for your bones.

Polyphenols can also improve bone mineral density by reducing degeneration. Plus, Mediterranean diets have been linked to a lower risk of fractures in older adults.

5. They can improve brain health.

Since olives help reduce oxidative stress caused by inflammation, they also protect the tissues of vital organs (i.e. your brain!) from harmful and potentially irreversible damage. Another benefit: Olives contain vitamin E, an antioxidant linked to improved cognition and reduced risk of cognitive decline. Diets that rely on olive oil as a primary fat source are also associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Getty Images

6. They can help you stay satisfied.

Using extra virgin olive oil when cooking can boost satiety by providing healthy, flavorful fats that keep you fuller, longer. One tablespoon is about 120 calories, while 120 calories worth of olives is roughly 30 olives (depending on type and size). Snacking on the fruit also provides dietary fiber; a cup has about 15% of what you need in a day! That said, those on a low-sodium diet should stick with the oil version.

7. They can reduce risk of some cancers.

The benefits of fruits and veggies make them no-brainers when it comes to daily meals and snacks. High-antioxidant foods like olives can also lower your chances of certain cancers, both by protecting cellular DNA (potentially preventing tumor growth) and reducing oxidative stress.

8. They may improve blood sugar.

Extra virgin olive oil in particular could lower blood sugar as early as two hours after a meal by aiding insulin action. The oleic acids (a heart-healthier type of fat) and polyphenols in olives can help too. Research indicates diets high in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants may lessen the risk of type II diabetes.

9. They can help you absorb other nutrients better.

Antioxidants found many veggies and fruits are best absorbed when eaten with dietary fat such as olives. Adding a tablespoon of olive oil to salads and drizzling it in veggie dips can help enhance your intake of carotenoids, which benefit your eyes and diminish long-term disease risk.

The Bottom Line

Eating olives in addition to more vegetables and fruit results in some significant perks, helping you achieve weight-loss goals and make a positive change that benefits your health for the long term.

Related Stories Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, Good Housekeeping Institute Director, Nutrition Lab A registered dietitian with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northwestern University and a Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University, Jaclyn “Jackie” London handles all of Good Housekeeping’s nutrition-related content, testing, and evaluation.

The health benefits of olives and associated natural products like olive oil have long been recognized and touted by proponents of the Mediterranean diet. Now, a Virginia Tech research team has found that the olive-derived compound oleuropein helps the body secrete more insulin, a central signaling molecule in the body that controls metabolism.

Little was previously known about what specific compounds and biochemical interactions in the fruit contribute to its medical and nutritional benefits such as weight loss and prevention of type 2 diabetes.

The Virginia Tech scientists discovered that the olive-derived compound oleuropein helps the body secrete more insulin, a central signaling molecule in the body that controls metabolism. The same compound also detoxifies another signaling molecule called amylin that over-produces and forms harmful aggregates in type 2 diabetes. In these two distinct ways, oleuropein helps prevent the onset of disease.

The findings were recently published in the journal Biochemistry as a Rapid Report, which is reserved for timely topics of unusual interest, according to the journal.

“Our work provides new mechanistic insights into the long-standing question of why olive products can be anti- diabetic,” said Bin Xu, lead author. “We believe it will not only contribute to the biochemistry of the functions of the olive component oleuropein, but also have an impact on the general public to pay more attention to olive products in light of the current diabetes epidemic.”

The discovery could help improve understanding of the scientific basis of health benefits of olive products and develop new, low-cost nutraceutical strategies to fight type 2 diabetes and related obesity.

Next steps include testing the compound in a diabetic animal model and investigation of additional new functions of this compound, or its components, in metabolism and aging.

Olive Oil Consumption to Fight Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease?

In a separate study, researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University showed that the consumption of extra-virgin olive oil protects memory and learning ability and reduces the formation of amyloid-beta plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain — classic markers of Alzheimer’s disease.

The Temple University scientists also identified the mechanisms underlying the protective effects of extra-virgin olive oil. “We found that olive oil reduces brain inflammation but most importantly activates a process known as autophagy,” explained senior investigator Domenico Praticò, MD. Autophagy is the process by which cells break down and clear out intracellular debris and toxins, such as amyloid plaques and tau tangles.

“Brain cells from mice fed diets enriched with extra-virgin olive oil had higher levels of autophagy and reduced levels of amyloid plaques and phosphorylated tau,” Dr. Praticò said. The latter substance, phosphorylated tau, is responsible for neurofibrillary tangles, which are suspected of contributing to the nerve cell dysfunction in the brain that is responsible for Alzheimer’s memory symptoms.

Previous studies have suggested that the widespread use of extra-virgin olive oil in the diets of people living in the Mediterranean areas is largely responsible for the many health benefits linked to the Mediterranean diet. “The thinking is that extra-virgin olive oil is better than fruits and vegetables alone, and as a monounsaturated vegetable fat it is healthier than saturated animal fats,” according to Dr. Praticò.

In order to investigate the relationship between extra-virgin olive oil and dementia, Dr. Praticò and colleagues used a well-established Alzheimer’s disease mouse model. Known as a triple transgenic model, the animals develop three key characteristics of the disease: memory impairment, amyloid plagues, and neurofibrillary tangles.

The researchers divided the animals into two groups, one that received a chow diet enriched with extra-virgin olive oil and one that received the regular chow diet without it. The olive oil was introduced into the diet when the mice were six months old, before symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease begin to emerge in the animal model.

In overall appearance, there was no difference between the two groups of animals. However, at age 9 months and 12 months, mice on the extra virgin olive oil-enriched diet performed significantly better on tests designed to evaluate working memory, spatial memory, and learning abilities.

Studies of brain tissue from both groups of mice revealed dramatic differences in nerve cell appearance and function.

“One thing that stood out immediately was synaptic integrity,” Dr. Praticò said. The integrity of the connections between neurons, known as synapses, were preserved in animals on the extra-virgin olive oil diet. In addition, compared to mice on a regular diet, brain cells from animals in the olive oil group showed a dramatic increase in nerve cell autophagy activation, which was ultimately responsible for the reduction in levels of amyloid plaques and phosphorylated tau.

“This is an exciting finding for us,” explained Dr. Praticò. “Thanks to the autophagy activation, memory and synaptic integrity were preserved, and the pathological effects in animals otherwise destined to develop Alzheimer’s disease were significantly reduced. This is a very important discovery, since we suspect that a reduction in autophagy marks the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Dr. Praticò and colleagues plan next to investigate the effects of introducing extra-virgin olive oil into the diet of the same mice at 12 months of age, when they have already developed plaques and tangles. “Usually when a patient sees a doctor for suspected symptoms of dementia, the disease is already present,” Dr. Praticò added. “We want to know whether olive oil added at a later time point in the diet can stop or reverse the disease.”

Olive Oil Consumption Lowers Stroke Risk

In yet another European study, researchers looked at the medical records of 7,625 people ages 65 and older from three cities in France: Bordeaux, Dijon and Montpellier. Participants had no history of stroke. Olive oil consumption was categorized as “no use,” “moderate use” such as using olive oil in cooking or as dressing or with bread, and “intensive use,” which included using olive oil for both cooking and as dressing or with bread. Study participants mainly used extra virgin olive oil, as that is 98 percent of what is available in France.

After a little over five years, there were 148 strokes.

After considering diet, physical activity, body mass index and other risk factors for stroke, the study found that those who regularly used olive oil for both cooking and as dressing had a 41 percent lower risk of stroke compared to those who never used olive oil in their diet (1.5 percent in six years compared to 2.6 percent).

Olive oil has been associated with potentially protective effects against many cardiovascular risk factors, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity.

Olive Oil Consumption Associated with Lower Risk of Cardiac Arrest

In a separate study, researchers in Spain randomly selected 296 people at high risk of cardiovascular disease participating in the PREvención con DIeta MEDiterránea study. Blood samples were taken from the participants at the beginning of the study and again at the end.

Participants, average age 66, were randomly assigned to one of three diets for a year: a traditional Mediterranean diet enriched with virgin olive oil (about 4 tablespoons) each day, a traditional Mediterranean diet enriched with extra nuts (about a fistful) each day, or a healthy “control” diet that reduced consumption of red meat, processed food, high-fat dairy products and sweets. In addition to emphasizing fruit, vegetables, legumes, such as beans, chickpeas and lentils, and whole grains, both Mediterranean diets included moderate amounts of fish and poultry.

The study found that only the control diet reduced total and LDL cholesterol levels. None of the diets increased HDL levels significantly, but the Mediterranean diets did improve HDL function. The improvement in HDL function was much larger among those consuming an extra quantity of virgin olive oil.

Fitó and her team found that the Mediterranean diet enriched with virgin olive oil improved key HDL functions, including:

  • Reverse cholesterol transport, the process by which HDL removes cholesterol from plaque in the arteries and transports it to the liver where it is used to produce hormonal compounds or eliminated from the body.
  • Antioxidant protection, the ability of HDL to counteract the oxidation of LDL, which has been found to trigger the development of plaque in the arteries.
  • Vasodilator capacity, which relaxes blood vessels, keeping them open and blood flowing.

Researchers said they were surprised to find that the control diet, which like the Mediterranean diets was rich in fruits and vegetables, had a negative impact on HDL’s anti-inflammatory properties. A decrease in HDL’s anti-inflammatory capability is associated with cardiovascular disease. Participants on the Mediterranean diets did not experience a decline in this important HDL function, the authors wrote.

Researchers said the differences in results between the diets were relatively small because the modifications of the Mediterranean diets were modest and the control diet was a healthy one. They added that study results are mainly focused on a high cardiovascular risk population that includes people who can obtain the most benefits from this diet intervention.

Still, Fitó said, “following a Mediterranean diet rich in virgin olive oil could protect our cardiovascular health in several ways, including making our ‘good cholesterol’ work in a more complete way.”

Learn more about olives and olive oil

World’s Healthiest Foods: Olives

Olives 101: Healthline

How Olives Fight Inflammation

Healthiest Foods for Cancer Prevention

The health benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil!

Olive oil is an essential part of the Mediterranean diet for thousands of years and its nutritional value and benefits in overall health cannot be emphasized enough! There are different types of olive oil, but extra virgin olive oil may be the healthiest as it reduces heart disease and damage from free radicals and acts preventatively against breast and colon cancer.

Extra virgin olive oil is olive oil from the first pressing of the olives. Chemically, extra virgin olive oil contains less than 0.8% acidity, and is judged to have a superior taste and it contains 60 calories per teaspoon. All of the calories in olive oil come from fat, with 7 grams of total fat per teaspoon and one gram of the fat in each teaspoon of olive oil is saturated fat. The fatty acids, like oleic acid, and antioxidant compounds in extra virgin olive oil may do more than just battle high levels of bad cholesterol. According to the George Mateljan Foundation, reduced rates of breast cancer, colon cancer, insulin sensitivity and bone loss may all be related to consumption of olive oil. The antioxidant polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil may help to protect the heart by reducing damage from free radicals and plaque build-up in the arteries, and by acting as an anti-inflammatory.

According to Livestrong.org, olive oil contains vitamins E and K in which are both important for cardiovascular health. Vitamin E is necessary to form red blood cells, and vitamin K is essential for normal blood clotting. Just 100g of olive oil contains 14mg of vitamin E and 62mcg of vitamin K which means about 7 tbsp. of olive oil provides 93 percent of the daily recommended allowance, or RDA, of vitamin E and 59 percent of the RDA for vitamin K. Olive oil contains small amounts of the minerals iron, calcium, potassium and sodium. These minerals have several functions, among them supporting the cardiovascular system, and the red blood cells’ ability to carry oxygen to all cells in your body. Calcium, potassium and sodium are electrolytes, which carry electrical charges that help the nerves and muscles function. Your body depends on these minerals, especially potassium, to keep your heart beating regularly.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends eating 2 tbsp., or 23g, of olive oil daily to reduce your risk of heart disease.

photo By Smabs Sputzer


  • Heart Health & Olive Oil

    Cardiovascular Disease

    Our hearts naturally begin to deteriorate with age. Spanish researchers recently discovered that endothelial function of the arteries in the elderly can be improved by the consumption of monounsaturated fats, such as extra virgin olive oil.

    Blood Pressure

    Extra virgin olive oil has shown to help decrease both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. One study showed that four tablespoons of olive oil a day reduced the need for blood pressure medication in participants.

    Cholesterol

    Just two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil a day has shown to help lower total cholesterol by helping to reduce LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Even more, it has shown to help improve HDL cholesterol, thus improving the critical balance between LDL and HDL.


  • Brain Health & Olive Oil

    Alzheimer’s

    Studies have shown that oleocanthal, a polyphenol found in extra virgin olive oil, has the potential to reduce cognitive decline that comes with aging, including Alzheimer’s disease. Polyphenols, powerful antioxidants found in extra virgin olive oil, also help to combat the oxidative stress associated with aging.

    Depression

    According to Spanish researchers from the University of Navarra and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, a diet rich in olive oil can protect from mental illness, including depression. Fat serves as an important building block for cell membranes. As such it acts as padded protection for organs and cells as well as nerve insulation. In fact, fat comprises 60% of the brain.

    Stroke

    A study conducted in France showed that participants who cooked with and consumed olive oil had a 41 percent lower risk of stroke compared to those that did not use olive oil at all.


  • Skin Health & Olive Oil

    Skin Cancer

    Along with a Mediterranean diet, extra virgin olive oil has shown to contribute to the prevention of the dangerous form of skin cancer, malignant melanoma. The antioxidant properties of extra virgin olive oil help to counter the oxidation from the sun.


  • Bone Health & Olive Oil

    Osteoporosis

    Extra virgin olive oil consumption can help improve bone mineralization and calcification. It helps the body absorb calcium, which is a key player in preventing osteoporosis, aiding in thickening the bones.


  • Diet & Olive Oil

    Diabetes

    Symptoms of diabetes can be alleviated by a diet rich in soluble fiber from fruits and vegetables, monounsaturated fats, such as extra virgin olive oil, low in saturated fat and moderate in carbohydrates. It helps to regulate blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity. A Mediterranean diet (see details below), which is rich in extra virgin olive oil, has shown to reduce the risk of type II diabetes by almost 50 percent compared to a low fat diet.

    Obesity

    A diet of nutrient dense foods as the main source of calories helps to improve satiety, which prevents snacking on nutrient void high calorie foods that can lead to overeating and eventually obesity. Of course, fat is a big factor in the satiety we feel after eating. Not only that but fat helps stimulate the gastrocolic reflex to help us digest the foods we consume. Extra virgin olive oil is an example of a nutrient dense fat that helps you feel more satiated.

    Mediterranean Diet

    The Mediterranean diet incorporates olive oil in almost everything. It also suggests a diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables. The health benefits of following a Mediterranean diet, backed by numerous studies, include prevention of metabolic syndrome and lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

    Oxidative Stress

    Exposure to air pollution and cigarette smoke as well as consumption of fried foods or alcohol can cause free radicals to form in the body. Vitamin E, found in extra virgin olive oil, is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the body from the damage caused by free radicals, called oxidative stress. Extra virgin olive oil also contains polyphenols, another type of antioxidant, which also fight oxidative stress throughout your body. Over time, oxidative stress can lead to chronic inflammation. Oleocanthal, a phytonutrient found in extra virgin olive oil, has been shown to reduce inflammation, a leading cause of cancer.

Health Benefits Of Olive Oil

While some people suggest never consuming oils of any kind, the evidence is clear that when choosing a food oil for marinating, dressing, and cooking, extra virgin olive oil is always the healthiest choice.

Extra virgin olive oil vs. other oils

Extra virgin olive oil is simply the juice of the olive fruit with its water removed by centrifuge, an unrefined, all-natural product created without heat or chemicals involved in any step of the process.

Besides extra virgin olive oil and unrefined virgin coconut oil, every other common food oil requires chemical processing. All vegetable oils, including corn oil, peanut oil, and canola oil, are extracted from seeds using high heat along with industrial solvents, such as Hexane, a chemical the EPA has identified as a neurotoxin in rat studies.

Seed oils created by chemical extraction must still be bleached and deodorized in order to make them edible, and these processes destroy any natural nutrients while also producing free radicals that can contribute to a host of diseases when these oils are consumed.

The latest study indicating the dangers of vegetable oils – released in the summer of 2019 and performed by UMass Amherst – suggested that consumption of these refined polyunsaturated fry oils exacerbates symptoms for people with diseased colons.

Research shows that replacing any of these processed, polyunsaturated fats in your diet with the monounsaturated fats found in extra virgin olive oil can aid weight loss and improve overall health.

Furthermore, extra virgin olive oil has many proven health benefits as a result of the oil’s high content of polyphenols. These valuable antioxidants cannot be found in any other edible oil.

A Proven Medicine

Nutrient-dense EVOO contains many different polyphenolyic compounds that offer myriad benefits to human health, including “antioxidant, antimicrobial, hypoglycemic, vasodilator and antihypertensive effects.”

1. EVOO provides similar benefits to caloric restriction

Plant polyphenols, including those found in extra virgin olive oil, have properties that mimic the effects of caloric restriction on the body, specifically by affecting the activity and levels of sirtuins, a family of proteins that regulate cellular health. Caloric restriction in humans has shown many beneficial effects, like prolonging lifespan and reducing the risk of age-associated diseases.

2. Reduces inflammation and relieves rheumatoid arthritis symptoms

EVOO has shown that it can decrease systemic inflammation. By inhibiting the activity of specific enzymes that cause inflammation, the oleocanthal in EVOO helps improve health outcomes, as inflammation is a known factor across a variety of chronic diseases.

Some evidence suggests extra virgin olive oil can reduce the pain, inflammation and oxidative stress associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Patients taking fish oil also showed significant improvements when their diets were supplemented with extra virgin olive oil.

3. Aids the fight against cancer

The polyphenols found in EVOO have shown to have a debilitating effect on cancer cells, both in reducing cell proliferation and increasing cell death. EVOO’s polyphenols appear to be particularly effective against breast cancer cells, and may also kill skin cancer cells without harming healthy cells.

4. Repairs the body and combats aging

EVOO polyphenols stimulate autophagy, the body’s system of clearing out dead cells and creating new cells, suggesting plant phenols to be a potent weapon against neurodegeneration. Scientists writing in the International Journal of Molecular Science found that “EVOO polyphenols can be considered a new family of plant-produced gerosuppressants… leading to prevention against aging and age-related diseases, including cancer.”

5. Interferes with processes leading to amyloid diseases

Symptoms of amyloid diseases show correlation with diabetes and also neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimers. EVOO polyphenols appear to reduce accumulation and buildup of the amyloid proteins associated with Alzheimers, with one study finding diminished chances of cognitive deficit for those who used extra virgin olive oil vs. those who did not. The same study found that those in the EVOO-consuming cohort had lower incidence of stroke, as well as reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and CVD-related mortality.

6. Improves cardiovascular health

Many studies have found extra virgin olive oil to be very beneficial for cardiovascular health. The polyphenols in EVOO lower the risk of heart disease, lower LDL cholesterol levels as well as total cholesterol levels, and help prevent the formation of plaque in arteries. A 2000 study published by the University of Naples, Italy concluded that the regular consumption of extra virgin olive oil reduces the daily dosage requirement for individuals prescribed medication for hypertension.

7. Improves obesity outcomes

Several plant phenols show the ability to combat obesity-related conditions. Consumption of EVOO polyphenols can help reduce food intake and fat tissue accumulation by better regulating proper cell function, a process which also helps reduce obesity-related inflammation.

Obesity has high correlation with both cardiovascular disease and also type-2 diabetes. The polyphenols found in extra virgin olive oil have been shown to improve fat metabolism and insulin sensitivity, while also helping to balance blood sugar levels.

Typically the body stores fat in cells called adipocytes. In obese individuals, extra virgin olive oil can help prevent lipotoxicity and cell death when fatty acids get stored in non-adipose tissues.

EVOO can also help improve liver health related to metabolic syndrome, and protect against nonalcoholic fatty liver disease by alleviating oxidative stress and improving inflammatory response.

8. Shows antibacterial properties

Studies show that olive oil can destroy bacteria associated with ulcers and stomach cancer. Strains of the bacteria Helicobacter pylori have shown some antibiotic resistance. In tests extra virgin olive oil was able to eradicate all strains of the bacteria, including those with antibiotic resistance.

9. Reduces the risk of depression

Research suggests that consumption of extra virgin olive oil as part of a Merditerranean diet can reduce the risk of depression, especially when compared to a cohort consuming trans-fats, a practice which shows correlation with increased risk of depression..

10. Epigenetic therapy

Epigenetic therapy is a newer field of science studying how the nutrients consumed as part of an individual’s diet can help modify how genes express themselves. Similar to the old phrase, “you are what you eat,” the science is beginning to reveal that a diet rich in plant polyphenols can help prevent diseases like cancer, while also counteracting faulty biological processes, and even aging itself.

Oleic Acid

Extra virgin olive oil is the only oil made primarily of monunsaturated fatty acids, with up to 80% of the oil consisting of oleic acid. In fact, extra virgin olive oil is our best available source of oleic acid. Oleic acid is vitally important to human health. While present in many organs, it is the main fatty acid found in the human brain.

Many studies have been performed on oleic acid, and it is widely understood to provide vital nourishment to every cell in the body, making it critical to improving cell health and preventing premature cell death. Oleic acid is known to reduce bad cholesterol levels while maintaining protective HDL levels. It can help reduce inflammation by making corticosteroids more available to the body. Oleic acid may also play a role in cancer prevention.

In addition to the many benefits oleic acid provides, it is also cited for its ability to improve the protective effects of tocopherols, a set of compounds with antioxidant properties.

Antioxidants vs. Free Radicals

We have all seen how an apple, once cut open, will quickly turn from white to brown through the process of oxidation. Unfortunately oxidation is a natural process that happens to all of us! During our normal metabolic processes, ie. the chemical reactions that occur as we breathe and acquire energy, the oxygen molecules in our body lose electrons, becoming what are known as free radicals. These unstable oxygen molecules will look for new electrons to make them complete. In metals, this process of oxidation creates rust, similar to how the flesh of an oxidized apple turns brown.

When free radicals bond to healthy cells in the human body, compounds called reactive oxygen species are created. These compounds can damage and destroy the building blocks of the body: our fatty acids, our proteins, even our DNA. A body overwhelmed by free radicals is considered to be under oxidative stress, a condition that can lead to a wide variety of diseases and also speed up the aging process.

Unfortunately the creation of free radicals in the body isn’t limited to just our metabolic processes. External sources such as radation, air pollution, and industrial chemicals can also promote the creation of free radicals in the body. Luckily our planet offers us many natural substances with antioxidant properties.

Antioxidants improve physical health by providing stable molecules that can donate electrons to dangerous free radicals and keep them from affecting healthy cells. Antioxidants can also help inhibit the activity of any reactive oxygen species already created. These processes immediately help to slow down and even stop cellular damage.

While the body does produce enzymes that scavenge free radicals, the main source of antioxidants comes from our diet. The collective name for any fat-soluble compound with antioxidant properties is Vitamin E.

The Vitamins of EVOO

Vitamin E

Alpha tocopherol is the primary type of Vitamin E in extra virgin olive oil. Approximately 2 milligrams of Vitamin E can be acquired from a tablespoon of olive oil, which is about 10% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin E.

According to the NIH Vitamin E has anti-inflammatory properties, can reduce incidence of heart disease, and can also reduce the chance of mortality from cardiovascular issues in women. The Mayo Clinic suggests that Vitamin E helps prevent the advance of Alzheimer’s disease.

Vitamin K

The other main vitamin found in extra virgin olive oil is Vitamin K, with about 10% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin K in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Research shows that Vitamin K is an important nutrient to aid in blood clotting. Vitamin K has also been cited to improve bone health, and may help prevent osteoporosis. Vitamin K is present in many major organs, including the brain, heart, liver, pancreas and bone.

Beyond being the source of these 2 critical vitamins, extra virgin olive oil also provides profound health benefits through its high content of natural polyphenols.

Polyphenols – Nature’s powerful antioxidants

Extra virgin olive oil is a natural fruit juice containing polyphenols, valuable antioxidants that cannot be found in any other edible oil. Many consider the polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil to be responsible for the low incidence of heart disease associated with people who regularly consume a Mediterranean diet.

Phenolic concentration in olive oil depends on several variables:

    • cultivar / variety
    • ripening stage (oleuropein content decreases as olives ripen)
    • environmental factors (altitude, cultivation practices, irrigation)
    • extraction conditions (heat, added water, malaxation)
    • extraction systems used to separate oil from olive pastes (pressure, centrifugation systems)
    • storage conditions
    • time since harvest

The major polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil include:

oleuropein

Responsible for bitterness in EVOO, this compound is known to help promote autophagy, the human body’s process of eliminating damaged cells and regenerating new, healthy cells. This process helps make extra virgin olive oil a powerful weapon against neurodegeneration.

oleacein

In studies this compound has shown to be beneficial for combatting cardiovascular disease, as well as having antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial effects. It is also considered anti-proliferative, meaning it inhibits the growth and propogation of cancer cells.

oleocanthal

Responsible for the pungency (burning sensation in the back of throat) in extra virgin olive oil, this compound is proven to be a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent, similar to ibuprofen. Oleocanthal has also been proven to be fatal to cancer cells.

High Polyphenol Content Matters

Individuals with cardiovascular disease and hypertension have had better outcomes when consuming EVOOs with high-polyphenol content vs EVOOs with less polyphenols. Because the quantity of polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil naturally diminish over time, oils with higher polyphenol counts also provide a longer shelf life.

The high percentage of monounsaturated fatty acids coupled with the abundant polyphenols make extra virgin olive oil quite resistant to oxidation, thus reducing the opportunity for carcinogenic components to be created when heating the oil.

Cooking with EVOO

Contrary to popular belief extra virgin olive oil is perfect for cooking, and is the primary cooking oil used across the Mediterranean. Typically both pan frying and deep frying are performed at heats below what is considered the average smoke point for extra virgin olive oil, around 370°F. In fact, even when heated to high temperatures, olive oil still maintains most of its nutritional properties. Quality extra virgin olive oils with low acidity and containing more polyphenols have much higher smoke points.

Furthermore, it has been proven that cooking vegetables with extra virgin olive oil makes the plant phenols more bioavailable to the human body. The benefits of the Mediterranean diet cannot be discussed without including olive oil. Created from one of the first plants domesticated by humans, this completely natural product has been proven to be one of the healthiest, most beneficial foods on our planet.

We think it tastes pretty good too!

*This content is strictly opinion and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither the on-screen personalities nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.

Ultimate Guide to Olive Oil

Olive oil helps carry the flavor of foods and spices, provides a pleasing feel in the mouth, and satisfies the appetite. Liberal use of it will enhance both savory and sweet dishes without guilt because of its wonderful health-boosting properties (although if you’re trying to lose weight, you may not want to overdo it, because like all fats, it provides nine calories per gram).

Virgin and extra-virgin oils are best used uncooked or cooked at low to medium temperatures. Refined and olive oil grade oils are the choices for high-heat uses, such as frying.

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An oil’s smoke point is the temperature at which it smokes when heated. Any oil is ruined at its smoke point and is no longer good for you. If you heat an oil to its smoke point, carefully discard it and start over. Olive oil has a higher smoke point than most other oils (about 400 degrees Fahrenheit). Refined olive oils have a slightly higher smoke point (about 410 degrees Fahrenheit).

Tips for Cooking with Olive Oil

Although extra-virgin and virgin olive oils stand up to heat remarkably well, they do lose flavor as they’re heated, so they are best for uncooked dishes. Use them to harmonize the spices in a dish, to enhance and build flavors, and to add body and depth.

Olive oil also balances the acidity in high-acid foods, such as tomatoes, vinegar, wine, and lemon juice. In general, treat your olive oils as you do your wines, carefully pairing their tastes with the flavors of the other ingredients in the dishes you are creating.

Here are some ways to use olive oil:

  • Drizzle it over salad or mix it into salad dressing.
  • Use in marinades or sauces for meat, fish, poultry, and vegetables. Oil penetrates nicely into the first few layers of the food being marinated.
  • Add at the end of cooking for a burst of flavor.
  • Drizzle over cooked pasta or vegetables.
  • Use instead of butter or margarine as a healthy dip for bread. Pour a little olive oil into a small side dish and add a few splashes of balsamic vinegar, which will pool in the middle and look very attractive.
  • For an easy appetizer, toast baguette slices under the broiler, rub them lightly with a cut clove of garlic, and add a little drizzle of olive oil.
  • Replace butter with olive oil in mashed potatoes or on baked potatoes. For the ultimate mashed potatoes, whip together cooked potatoes, roasted garlic, and olive oil; season to taste.
  • Make a tasty, heart-healthy dip by mixing cooked white beans, garlic, and olive oil in a food processor; season to taste with your favorite herbs.
  • Use olive oil in your sauces — whisking will help emulsify, or blend, the watery ingredients with the oil in the sauce.

The Most Versatile Version

You can use multipurpose fine virgin olive oil in almost any recipe. It is moderately priced despite being close in flavor to more expensive extra-virgin olive oils. Plus, you can use it in high-heat applications, so feel free to grab fine virgin olive oil when you need to saute, panfry, or stir-fry.

Fine virgin olive oil is also the right choice when you want quality flavor but not that strong olive taste. Try these tips for fine virgin olive oil in your kitchen:

  • Brush it on meats before grilling or broiling to seal in the meat flavor and juices and create a crispy exterior.
  • Add to eggs and drizzle over toast.
  • Sprinkle on brown rice.
  • Before refrigerating homemade pesto, add a thin layer of fine virgin olive oil on top of the sauce after putting it in a jar so the pesto will keep its green color.

Baking with Olive Oil

Most people don’t think of using olive oil when baking, but it’s actually a great way to get more monounsaturated fat and polyphenolic compounds in your diet. Choose the lite, light, or mild type of olive oil for baking, especially savory breads and sweets such as cakes, cookies, and other desserts. Because of the filtration these types of oils have undergone, they withstand high-heat cooking methods.

Substituting olive oil for butter dramatically reduces the amount of fat — especially saturated fat — in your baked goods. And of course, olive oil does not contain any of butter’s cholesterol. You’ll also use less fat — you can substitute three tablespoons of olive oil for a quarter-cup of butter. (Check your cookbook for substituting advice.)

The product still turns out as expected, but with 25 percent less fat, fewer calories, and more heart-healthy nutrients.

Olive oil can enhance the flavor of almost anything you eat. Now that you know how it gets to your table, you’ll know how to get the most out of it.

To learn more about the topics covered in this article, check out the following links:

  • To learn about how olive oil can improve your health, read The Health Benefits of Olive Oil.
  • If you wanted to know how to grow and use garlic, try How to Plant and Store Garlic.
  • Natural Weight-Loss Food: Olive Oil, can tell you more about how olive oil can help you lose weight.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gayle Povis Alleman is a registered dietitian with a bachelor’s degree in traditional nutrition from Western Washington University and a master’s degree in alternative nutrition from Bastyr University. This varied background allows her to bring together the best of both approaches to offer research-based, holistic information about wholesome foods, nutrition, and health. As a writer, educator, and speaker, she encourages people to achieve optimum health through food, nutrients, and physical activity.

Fish with vegetables and olive oil at a taverna by the sea in Crete. (Photo by Lisa Radinovsky)

What is your favorite way to use olive oil? A typical Greek eats more of this healthy liquid gold than anyone else in the world, so Greeks have plenty of suggestions. To help people who did not grow up in the midst of olive trees, Greek Liquid Gold asked several Greeks in the olive oil business, plus two prominent European chefs, for their ideas.

Some of the responses were unsurprising, while others were more unusual. Like most Greeks, Charalampos Papadellis “loves to eat olive oil with bread,” which “brings out the flavor and the fruitiness” of the oil (Papadellis Olive Oil). Many recommend using extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) raw “so that it does not lose its taste, its strong aromas, and its nutrients,” as Katerina Bougatsou points out. For example, Bougatsou notes, olive oil can be used “as a dressing for fresh salads, like the famous traditional Greek ‘horiatiki’ salad, or even with boiled vegetables,” including wild greens (Stalia Greek EVOO).

There are endless variations on the themes of olive oil and bread, and olive oil and salad. Manos Asmarianakis loves “to enjoy a special EVOO” on dakos, a salad made with traditional Cretan twice-baked bread (rusks) with fresh chopped tomato, oregano, and feta or mizithra cheese (Physis of Crete).

Gabriel Malet, the chef at the Spanish Embassy in Athens, suggests that “if we have tomato and olive oil, we don’t need to cook; we have a perfect meal, so rich and full of little details and finesse. As Greeks say, what I prefer about Greek salad is the ‘papara’ (soaked bread)—take bread and dip it in the oil with the rest of the liquids from feta and tomato, and see how it combines with oregano.”

Dominique Perrot, former chef for Francois Miterrand, is one of many who prefers to use the best EVOOs raw, especially in salads. In fact, he says “when we make salad with excellent olive oil, we don’t add vinegar or lemon.” Excellent olive oils can add their own distinctive flavor to salads and other dishes, including boiled eggs and grilled vegetables.

Valia Kelidou agrees: she believes extra virgin olive oil “is best consumed raw as a finishing touch to all your dishes” (Kyklopas). Diamantis Pierrakos similarly recommends that it be “drizzled on everything” (Laconiko). As Evi Psounou Prodromou adds, “we eat our EVOO with every food” (Yanni’s Olive Grove). Nikolas Philippidis explains, “you can drizzle it over warm and cold dishes just before serving, or use it in salad dressings, marinades, vinaigrettes, and sauces” (Hellenic Fields).

George Goutis prefers his olive oil on organic vegetables, “Greek salad with goat cheese, spinach pie, and fresh fish. For dessert, Greek olive oil cookies, which are so crunchy, lightly sweet, and perfect with a cup of coffee or tea. The recipe comes from my grandmother” (Goutis Estate). Perhaps this one (based on a different grandmother’s recipe) is similar.

Some Greeks, including Cristina Stribacu, use olive oil all day. “At breakfast, I eat fresh bread, EVOO, and honey. At lunch, with salads, soups, fish. In the afternoon I make sugar free snacks with EVOO. Any time of day is perfect!” (LIÁ).

Ellie Tragakes seems to agree: “Every morning I begin the day with a slice of toasted whole wheat bread drenched in ACAIA olive oil, topped with cheese, tomatoes and oregano. This is delicious beyond words, not to mention how nutritious it is. Beyond that, I pour ACAIA olive oil over anything edible, with the sole exception of ice cream and cakes. Though I should add that one can bake superb cakes using EVOO rather than butter” (Hellenic Agricultural Enterprises). One certainly can bake cakes with olive oil—try it!

Vasiliki Maraveli even embraces the combination of olive oil and ice cream. “Olive oil is a treasure, and it is unique, in whatever way you combine it. Which other fat can be used from ice cream to cocktail? We prefer it raw on toasted bread with oregano and boiled potatoes with fresh onion and coarse salt” (ALSEA-Sigounas Olive Mill).

While it is true that some of the beneficial components of extra virgin olive oil are richest in fresh, raw EVOO, scientific studies have also shown that there are benefits to cooking with olive oil, as Greeks do daily. Extra virgin olive oil is commonly used in Greek stewing, sautéing, frying, and baking; it is a good, healthy choice for almost everything.

Those interested in olive oil’s wonderful healthiness, as George Mathiopoulos points out, may “choose to take the recommended 25 ml for the health benefit with a spoon daily,” or they can use it as part of their Mediterranean diet. “We find that our olive oil pairs best with earthy green flavors such as lentils, beans, and other legumes” (Greek Olive Estate).

Such dishes are so popular in Greece that they have their own category: “ladera,” or “oily,” since the pulses, green beans, peas, cauliflower, spinach and rice, meats, and other foods are swimming in the olive oil that makes them tasty and adds important nutrients during cooking as well as finishing.

Consider the olive oil you are using at any given time, the reason you are using it, and the foods you are preparing, and experiment with various choices. Use more than one EVOO, just as you use more than one wine, depending on the meal and the occasion. Extra virgin olive oil offers almost endless possibilities for health benefits and flavor enhancement; explore them in your kitchen!

The first version of this article appeared on Greek Reporter’s associate GreekLiquidGold.com, which provides news, information, recipes, agrotourism suggestions, and photos from the Greek olive oil world.

Does Drinking Olive Oil Have Any Benefits?

Studies suggest that drinking olive oil may offer several health benefits.

May help meet the recommended intake of healthy fats

Most people eat enough total fat, but many fall short of getting enough polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), which are found in certain oils, nuts, seeds, and other plant sources (2, 3).

Dietary guidelines recommend that you get 20–35% of your calories from fat, primarily from PUFAs and MUFAs (2).

Olive oil is one of the richest plant sources of MUFAs, and consuming it can help you meet your needs of this type of fat. MUFAs are especially beneficial for heart health and may help reduce your risk of heart disease (4).

MUFAs are found in some animal products, but studies suggest their greatest health benefits are achieved by eating plant-based sources of this fat (4).

Drinking a couple of tablespoons of olive oil daily could help you meet the recommended amount of this fat if you get insufficient amounts from your diet.

May relieve constipation

Drinking olive oil may relieve constipation, which affects approximately 34% of adults over the age of 60 (5).

In a 4-week study, giving about 1 teaspoon (4 ml) of olive oil daily to 50 constipated hemodialysis patients resulted in significantly softened stools (6).

Furthermore, consuming olive oil was found to be as effective as mineral oil — a commonly used stool softener — at relieving constipation (6, 7).

Another study in 414 people over the age of 50 found that 97.7% of those with more than 3 bowel movements per week had high intakes of olive oil (8).

Although these findings are promising, more studies are needed to better understand how drinking olive oil may help relieve constipation.

May benefit heart health

Olive oil has long been acknowledged as a heart-healthy fat.

One compound thought to play a role in supporting heart health is oleic acid, a type of monounsaturated fat found in high quantities in olive oil. It may reduce the risk of heart disease when used in place of other fat sources (9).

In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claims that replacing fats and oils higher in saturated fat with 1.5 tablespoons (22 ml) of oils high in oleic acid daily may reduce your risk of heart disease (9).

However, to achieve this benefit, calories from oleic acid should not increase the total number of calories you eat per day.

Also, a study in 7,447 people found that those who consumed at least 4 tablespoons (60 ml) of olive oil daily were 30% less likely to develop heart disease, compared with those following a low-fat diet for 5 years (10).

What’s more, many other studies have shown that those who have a high olive oil intake are at a lower risk of heart disease (11, 12, 13).

While there’s no shortage of studies on olive oil and heart disease, more research is needed to support the notion of drinking olive oil to improve heart health.

Other benefits

In addition to the benefits above, drinking olive oil may have the following effects:

  • Help stabilize blood sugar. A study in 25 healthy individuals showed a 22% reduction in blood sugar 2 hours after eating a meal containing olive oil, compared with the control group (14).
  • Support bone health. A study in 523 women found consuming over 18 grams (20 ml) of olive oil per day resulted in significantly higher bone density, compared with consuming less than that amount per day (15).
  • Reduce inflammation. Several compounds in olive oil may have anti-inflammatory effects, including oleocanthal. It may offer pain relief effects similar to those of over-the-counter pain medications (16, 17).

Summary Olive oil is a healthy fat that contains anti-inflammatory compounds. Drinking it regularly may benefit your heart, bone, and digestive health and help stabilize your blood sugar levels.

Over the last decade, everyone has been harping on the beauty benefits of olive oil, but the truth is this kitchen staple has been used on the body since ancient times (thank you, Cleopatra). Naturally, olive oil is packed with anti-aging antioxidants and hydrating squalene, making it superb for hair, skin, and nails. Just like coconut oil, it’s an essential in any DIY beauty maven’s kit.

1. Preshampoo Hair Treatment

Olive oil has been used as a hair treatment since ancient Egyptian times. First, warm the olive oil in the microwave or in hot water. Then apply it generously to the ends of hair and scalp. Leave it in for up to 10 to 20 minutes, and then shampoo it out.

2. Lip Scrub

Combine coarse sugar with a teaspoon of olive oil for a chapped-lip fix. You can also add a splash of lemon juice for added flavor and acidic exfoliating properties. This scrub is good enough to eat (literally). Plus, you can expand the recipe for your whole body.

Save these ideas for later—and follow Allure on Pinterest!

3. Eye-Makeup Remover

We know what you’re thinking—slathering olive oil all over your face would actually cause bigger problems and clog pores. But in actuality, the oil grabs onto other oil-based products (think: Like attracts like), making it a great precleansing step to remove stubborn eye makeup. Follow it up with warm water and a pH-balanced face wash.

4. Ear-Wax Remedy

If you often have ear-wax buildup, turn to olive oil to flush out the clog. For three or four nights, put a few drops in the ears before bed to help loosen excess wax.

5. Shine Serum

There’s no need to buy a separate hair product to impart shine on second-day strands. Just rub a few drops of olive oil on flyaway ends after styling for an extra-glossy finish.

6. Shaving Cream

Run out of shaving cream? Head to the kitchen and slather legs with olive oil before applying the blade. You’ll ward off razor burn and bumps with the help of this natural lubricant.

7. Antibacterial Balm

If you’re taking an all-natural approach to medicine, you can whip up this DIY recipe for a Neosporin knockoff. It includes antibacterial olive oil along with lavender, calendula, and tea tree oil to ward off germs and scarring.

8. Cuticle Conditioner

Want to grow longer, stronger nails? Use olive oil as your cuticle softener. Chef Giada De Laurentiis applies the oil to her hands as she cooks, and you can easily keep a little by the sink for post-sanitizing moisture.

9. Eczema Remedy

The best and most widespread use for olive oil is as an intense moisturizer. This product works great as an allover treatment for extra-dry skin. Since it’s natural, it’s the ideal pick for eczema and more.

10. Diaper-Rash Treatment

There are very few products that are safe for both babies and adults. Olive oil is perfect for the sensitive skin on a baby’s bottom and as a moisturizing remedy for cradle cap too.

11. Cracked-Heel Repair

Split, rough heels need moisture to heal. After exfoliating with a pumice stone, apply olive oil to feet. Put on socks to lock in the hydrating treatment as you sleep.

12. Makeup-Brush Cleaner

Cleaning your makeup brushes should be a monthly ritual. You can use a DIY cleanser that’s two parts antibacterial soap and one part olive oil.

What Exercise and a Little Olive Oil Can Do For Your Skin

RELATED LINKS:

• How to Sunproof Your Hair to Avoid Damage

• Get Glowing for Memorial Day Weekend: 4 Self-Tanner Tips

• Everything You Need to Know About Waxing

What are the health benefits of olive oil?

Many studies have looked at the health benefits of olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil, which is the best quality oil available, is rich in antioxidants, which help prevent cellular damage caused by molecules called free radicals.

Free radicals are substances that the body produces during metabolism and other processes. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals.

If too many free radicals build up, they can cause oxidative stress. This can lead to cell damage, and it may play a role in the development of certain diseases, including certain types of cancer.

Olive oil and the cardiovascular system

Olive oil is the main source of fat in the Mediterranean diet. People who consume this diet appear to have a higher life expectancy, including a lower chance of dying from cardiovascular diseases, compared with people who follow other diets. Some experts call it “the standard in preventive medicine.”

A 2018 study compared the number of cardiovascular events among people who consumed a Mediterranean diet, either with olive oil or nuts, or a low-fat diet.

People who consumed the Mediterranean diet, whether with olive oil or nuts, had a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease than those on the low-fat diet.

According to the authors of one 2018 review, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority recommend consuming around 20 grams (g) or two tablespoons (tbs) of extra virgin olive oil each day to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and inflammation.

Results of a 2017 study suggested that the polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil may offer protection from cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, stroke, brain dysfunction, and cancer. Polyphenols are a type of antioxidant.

Metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a condition characterized by a group of risk factors that increase disease risk, including obesity, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar levels.

Authors of a 2019 meta-analysis concluded that olive oil in a Mediterranean diet might improve features of metabolic syndrome, such as inflammation, blood sugar, triglycerides (fats in the blood), and low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol. In contrast, it appears to increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol.

Depression risk and olive oil

In 2013, a rodent study suggested that ingredients in extra virgin olive oil may help protect the nervous system and could be useful for treating depression and anxiety.

Two years before, scientists had found evidence that people who ate trans fats, which is an unhealthful fat that features in fast foods and premade baked goods, were more likely to have depression than those who consumed unsaturated fats, such as olive oil.

How can diet impact depression? Find out here.

Olive oil and cancer risk

Some studies have suggested that substances in olive oil may help reduce the risk of breast cancer, but not all findings confirm this.

According to research published in 2019, olive oil contains substances that may help prevent colorectal cancer. Lab tests have found evidence that antioxidants in olive oil may help protect the body from inflammation, oxidative damage, and epigenetic changes.

Can diet impact a person’s risk of cancer? Find out here.

Alzheimer’s disease

In 2016, some scientists suggested that including extra virgin olive oil in the diet may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. This may be due to its protective impact on blood vessels in the brain.

Authors of a mouse study published in 2019 suggested that consuming oleocanthal-rich extra virgin olive oil could help slow or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s. Oleocanthal is a phenolic compound that occurs in extra virgin olive oil.

Olive oil and the liver

A 2018 review of laboratory studies found that molecules in extra virgin olive oil may help prevent or repair liver damage.

The oil’s MUFAs, which are mainly oleic acid, and its phenolic compounds appear to help prevent inflammation, oxidative stress, insulin resistance, and other changes that can result in liver damage.

Olive oil and inflammatory bowel disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) causes inflammation of the digestive tract. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are types of IBD.

A 2019 review found that phenols in olive oil may help boost intestinal immunity and gut health by changing the microbes in the gut. This could be useful for people with colitis and other types of IBD. The authors noted that more human studies are needed to confirm these results.

Find out more about the Mediterranean diet.

OLIVE

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Rancho Olivos Artisan Extra Virgin Olive Oil

You’re probably aware of the health benefits of olive oil, but it turns out extra virgin olive oil is good for more than just heart health. Did you know olive oil is a good source of vitamin E and contains vitamins A and K, iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium? It’s also a great source of amino acids! Thanks to all the vitamins and minerals, olive oil, is great for eye, skin, bone, and cell health as well boosting your immune system. In addition, fresh extra virgin olive oil is a digestive, which is why Mediterraneans have a small incidence of gall stones. Next time you have an upset stomach, try a teaspoon of fresh olive oil. Fresh olive oil also reduces the potential for stroke by more than 40%.

NPR Article by Scott Hensley
Our extra virgin olive oil is perfect for dipping breads, cooking, sautéing, poaching, finishing a dish before serving, and baking.

Olives are a fruit and when you crush them, you get juice. Olive juice is rich not only in oil but also in potent antioxidants and several vitamins. It is a heart-healthy fat, high in polyphenols.

NPR Article by Allison Aubrey

Need another reason to choose olive oil? It’s a more natural product than seed oils. Seeds, such as sunflower, soybean, or grapeseed (the source of canola oil), go through much more refining to extract their oils. They are not merely crushed or pressed; typically they are processed with heat and sometimes chemicals to to remove their oil. Even “cold-pressed” seed oils use heat to extract the oil. Seed oil is much more processed than Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Proper Storing of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

It is important to store your oil with care to ensure maximum freshness. It does not need to be refrigerated. However, light will causes it to oxidize more quickly than exposure to air. Olive Oil should kept in a dark bottle (like we bottle in) and stored in a cool, dark place, like your cupboard or pantry away from light and heat to preserve the fresh olive oil flavor.

Vitamin D supplementation increased muscle fibre thickness in sedentary rats fed either a regular diet or a high-fat extra-virgin olive oil (HFEVO) based diet, founds scientists from the University of Catania, Italy.

The increase in muscle fibre thickness was greater in the HFEVO group than in the regular diet group, reports the study published in Nutrients​. In both cases, the supplemented rats increased muscle fibre thickness significantly more than those who did not receive vitamin D.

The scientists also found that rats fed a high-fat butter (HFB) based diet (without vitamin D) for the 10-week trial period suffered a deterioration in muscle fibres. This group also showed significantly higher levels of the inflammatory molecule interleukin-1 beta (IL-1B) and drastically reduced levels of insulin growth factor-1 (IGF-1). Lower levels of IGF-1 signalling are known to reduce muscle protein synthesis.

However, vitamin D appeared to prevent this muscle damage in HFB diet rats who received the supplement. Muscle fibre thickness in this group was similar to controls.

“Vitamin D shows trophic action on muscle fibres, not only in rats fed with regular diet, but also in the case of a diet mimicking the Mediterranean diet​,” commented senior researcher Professor Giuseppe Musumeci.

“High‐fat western diet could impair muscle metabolism and create a basis for subsequent muscle damage,”​ he added.

Significance​

Sarcopenia, the loss of skeletal muscle mass with ageing, is a common condition in the elderly. Previous research has suggested that sarcopenia may be associated with obesity; and that vitamin D deficiency is linked to sarcopenia, frailty and falls in the elderly.

Vitamin in olive oil

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