The world has slowly come to realise the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil, the oil of the fruit of the olive, its wonderful flavour that adds a great taste in salads, dinners, lunchs, fish, pasta and nearly everywhere.
Extra virgin olive oil has been recently at the spotlight as a principal ingredient in the Mediterranean diet, and thanks to extensive research on its unique phytonutrient composition, olive oil has become a legendary culinary oil with very difficult-to-match health benefits.
Among its extensive list of phytonutrients, no single category of nutrients is more important than its polyphenols.
Here are the 4 most important Health Benefits of the Extra Virgin Olive Oil
With all the fuss about redescovering the originsl of our food and how it is connected with our health, it not unusual to think about an oil as an anti-inflammatory food. Whilst most plant oils are nearly 100% fat, intake of too much added of fat can be a problem for many reasons—including reasons involving unwanted inflammation. So it’s pretty remarkable to find a culinary oil that’s repeatedly been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and provide health benefits in the area of unwanted inflammation.
The anti-inflammatory strength of olive oil rests on its polyphenols, little compaounds that fight back free radicals – what makes us grow old. These anti-inflammatory compounds include at least nine different categories of polyphenols and more than two dozen well-researched anti-inflammatory nutrients.
In heart patients, olive oil and its polyphenols have also been determined to lower blood levels.
These anti-inflammatory benefits of extra virgin olive oil do not depend on large levels of intake. As little as 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil per day have been shown to be associated with significant anti-inflammatory benefits.
Olive oil is one of the few widely used culinary oils that contains about 75% of its fat in the form of oleic acid (a monounsaturated, omega-9 fatty acid). Researchers believe that the plentiful amount of oleic acid in olive oil gets absorbed into the body, finds its way into cell membranes, changes signaling patterns at a cell membrane level and thereby lowers blood pressure!
Which means – if you have just a few spoons of olive oil daily into your diet you can have an alteration in the blood pressure – for the better!
Bone Health Benefits
Support of overall bone health is another promising area of olive oil research. While most of the initial study in this area has been conducted on laboratory animals, better blood levels of calcium have been repeatedly associated with olive oil intake. In addition, at least two polyphenols in olive oil—tyrosol and hydroxytyrosol—have been shown to increase bone formation in rats. A recent group of researchers has also suggested that olive oil may eventually prove to have special bone benefits for post-menopausal women, since they found improved blood markers of overall bone health in female rats who had been fed olive oil after having their ovaries removed. Taken as a group, the above studies suggest that bone health benefits may eventually be viewed as an important aspect of olive oil intake.
The polyphenols found in olive oil act as an antioxidant for helping us lower our risk of certain cancer types. Many types of cancer only get initiated when cells are overwhelmed by damage to cell structure and by chronic excessive inflammation. Since the polyphenols in olive oil act both as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory molecules, they are perfectly suited for lowering our cells’ risk of oxidative stress and chronic unwanted inflammation. As mentioned above, research studies have shown that as little as 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil per day can lower our risk of certain cancer types, including cancers of the breast, respiratory tract, upper digestive tract, and to a lesser extent, lower digestive tract (colorectal cancers).
These are the best 4 health benefits of olive oil and how it affects our health.