What are the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil? Olive oil can often get a bad wrap when it comes to health, usually due to its uses in greasy, fried foods and from the fact that olive oil is technically all fat. However, there are several types and many uses of olive oil, and out of the large variety, there is no doubting the many health benefits of extra virgin olive oil.
The big difference between ordinary olive oil and extra virgin olive oil is that while ordinary olive oil is made up of processed and cold-pressed oils, extra virgin is only made up of pure cold-pressed olives. This process allows it to be free of common impurities that may be found in lesser quality olive oils, and it also allows it to have a lighter color and taste. But what about the health benefits?
Health Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1. Extra virgin olive oil contains phenols and oleic acid which are compounds that are believed to have anti-inflammatory properties. Beyond that, phenols and oleic acid may be able to help soothe pain, reduce fever, and protect against Alzheimer’s disease and the development of certain cancers.
2. Extra virgin olive oil is packed full of vitamin E which is well-known for its benefits for improving the quality of hair and skin. Vitamin E is considered an antioxidant which is what gives this vitamin (and olive oil) it’s impressive properties since antioxidants protect against cellular damage and ultimately against the development of diseases. The vitamin E in extra virgin olive oil may be able to protect against diabetes and certain neurological diseases.
3. Talking about diabetes, it may be hard to believe that olive oil can protect against it, but it can. Even though olive oil is all fat, it is composed of monosaturated fat which is quite healthy, and very little saturated fat which is significantly less healthy (butter is a good example of saturated fat.). Because of this healthy monosaturated fat and low saturated fat, bad cholesterol is lowered and insulin sensitivity is improved.
4. Again, because of extra virgin olive oil’s high monosaturated fat content and low saturated fat allowing for the decrease of bad cholesterol, this also reduces the risk of developing heart disease and atherosclerosis.
5. Can extra virgin olive oil help with weight loss? Surprisingly, yes. Despite being high in calories, studies have shown that it’s unusually difficult to gain weight from monosaturated fats.
6. Olive oil may have the ability to treat rheumatoid arthritis. This type of arthritis is considered an autoimmune disease that inflames and painfully deforms joins. Some studies have shown that olive oil and olive oil supplements may be able to reduce the inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis, especially when combined with fish oil which is also anti-inflammatory.
7. Besides being anti-inflammatory, olive oil is also antibacterial, meaning it can inhibit the growth of certain bacteria or even kill bacteria. For example, olive oil, when consumed on a daily basis, has been shown to be able to kill and rid the body of Helicobacter pylori which is the bacteria that most commonly causes stomach ulcers.
8. Olive oil can help fight against osteoporosis. This is not because it has calcium content, but because it has significant calcium absorbing properties. This allows bone to properly mineralize and calcify and become strong, ultimately preventing osteoporosis. It can also help treat those who already have osteoporosis.
9. Interestingly enough, extra virgin olive oil can protect against gallstones when consumed on a daily basis. Gallstones are hard deposits of undissolved cholesterol formed in the gallbladder and since olive oil can decrease cholesterol, it can also prevent the formation of gallstones.
10. While the previous health benefits of extra virgin olive oil are physical, olive oil may have mental health implications. This is because the healthy monosaturated fat content of olive oil combined with its anti-inflammatory properties can help prevent the dysfunction of neurotransmitters which are responsible for the transport of mood-influencing hormones in the brain. Olive oil is also believed to be able to balance the brain function of those with anxiety and depression.