Olive oil is obtained from olives, the fruit of the olive tree traditionally found in the Mediterranean Basin. The oil is generally produced by pressing whole olives, extracting the oil from the fruit.
For many years, olive oil plays a very big part of the Mediterranean diet. In recent years, people all over the world has accepted olive oil in their regular diet, easily finding bottles of it at home. It has enjoyed the reputation of being a healthier alternative to vegetable oil or butter or palm oil.
Here are some health benefits you can expect when you start including olive oil in your diet.
Reduce inflammation and cancer-causing agents
About 14% of the oil is saturated fat, 11% is polysaturated, containing compounds such as omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. However, the predominant fatty acid in olive oil is a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid.
Studies suggest that oleic acid reduces inflammation and may have the capability to suppress the genes linked to some cancers.
Reduce bad cholesterol and heart diseases
Apart from its strong, nutty fragrance, olive oil contains vitamins E and K and other antioxidants that may reduce your risk of chronic diseases. Doctors have also observed that people who include olive oil in their regular diets tend to have lower blood cholesterol and heart diseases.
People have observed that heart diseases are less common in Mediterranean countries. Doctors have linked it to the high consumption of olive oil. It protects the heart by lowering inflammation and prevents ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol from oxidation, improve the lining of the blood vessels.
If your family has a history of heart disease, you may want to include olive oil in your diet to reduce your risk factors.
Consuming olive oil does not cause weight gain
Everyone knows that a fatty diet is directly linked to weight gain.
However, studies have linked the Mediterranean diet to healthy body weight. There is no evidence to show that consuming olive oil will directly cause weight gain. In fact, these people have increased levels of antioxidants in their blood, making them more resistant to illnesses as compared to people who don’t take olive oil.
It is, however, important to note that everything, good or bad, must be consumed in moderation to yield health benefits.
Olive oil may help improve Alzheimer’s disease
Suffering from Alzheimer’s disease is one of those chronic conditions where family support is very important. It is a common neurodegenerative disease that occurs in elderly people.
Doctors have found out that Alzheimer’s disease occurs because of the buildup of beta-amyloid plagues in the brain cells. Although not tested in humans, researchers have found that the buildup of beta-amyloid are effectively removed in mice when fed with olive oil.
Olive oil reduces risk of type 2 diabetes
Doctors have traditionally advised us to consume low fat diet to prevent heart diseases and diabetes. Studies now show that it appears that it is the type of fat that counts rather than the amount of fat consumed.
A study published in a scientific journal showed that a diet rich in olive oil reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by almost 50 per cent compared to a low fat diet. It has been linked to beneficial effects on blood sugar and insulin sensitivity.
Get the right type of olive oil
Producing a bottle of olive oil is not cheap. A lot of effort is involved in the process of making good olive oil. While there is no upper limits set for a good bottle of olive oil, you probably need to read the labels more carefully if a bottle of so-called olive oil is the same price as regular bottle of oil.
Never buy anything that does not say “extra virgin” on the label because you will likely end up with an inferior product. Also, try to look for a harvest date or the name of the estate or mill. If you can, look for a bottle which has a third-party certification seal.