Olive oil, specifically extra virgin olive oil, is one of the healthiest fats in the world and is a major component of the Mediterranean diet. Filled with fatty acids and antioxidants, olive oil has powerful health benefits and can promote heart health – among many other benefits of olive oil. Continue reading to find out: Is olive oil good for you?
Is Olive Oil Good for You?
Fats can be good for you, like the fats found in avocado or olive oil, or they can be detrimental to your health, like saturated and trans fats. Studies have shown that Western diets, which are known to have higher levels of these bad fats, are unhealthy compared to diets that are known for consuming higher amounts of olive oil.
Part of the reason for this oil being healthy is that it’s 75% comprised of monounsaturated fats.
These fats are known to lower LDL cholesterol levels, or bad cholesterol, which can lead to heart problems. A lot of the benefits come from the pressing of the oil, which is done mechanically and without any solvents or high heat.
The lack of solvents and high heat protects the phenols in the oil from breaking down. Some studies, primarily small in size, have been done on phenols and show that they may be beneficial for your heart.
Extra virgin olive oil maintains phenols, but other olive oils may be highly processed, losing much of this healthy chemical in the process.
How Much Olive Oil Should You Consume?
Consuming too much of most things is not good. Since olive oil is a fat, it has high caloric value and can lead to weight gain if you consume too much. The FDA recommends 1-½ tablespoons of olive oil per day, but you may need to consume up to four tablespoons per day for maximum benefits.
When consuming four tablespoons per day, the health impact of polyphenols is maximized.
The best part is that olive oil can be added to:
- Drizzled on foods
Heating the olive oil can degrade the healthy components, primarily phenols, so try not to heat the oil when possible.
The Benefits of Olive Oil
Olive oil can benefit you in several ways, from being a great source of antioxidants to being a natural anti-inflammatory and even protecting against stroke and heart attack. While there are a lot of anecdotal benefits, there are also science-backed benefits of olive oil.
A Great Source of Antioxidants
Olive oil is rich in antioxidants that can help fight free radicals. Its fatty acids have antioxidants, but this oil also contains vitamin E and vitamin K.
Free radicals are a natural byproduct of metabolism, but they can wreak havoc on the body by damaging DNA, proteins, and cells. Antioxidants help keep free radicals in check, but when there’s an imbalance, it can lead to disease.
Consuming foods rich in antioxidants can help maintain this delicate balance, neutralizing free radicals to prevent them from doing damage.
Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) contains over 20 phenols, which are a group of antioxidants that help promote heart health and fight against cancer.
Along with its free radical-fighting antioxidants, olive oil can also prevent the oxidation of blood cholesterol.
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury and illness. But chronic inflammation can eventually lead to diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Regular consumption of olive oil may help reduce inflammation.
Olive oil’s antioxidants can also help reduce inflammation. There is evidence that oleocanthal, an antioxidant in olive oil, can have similar effects to ibuprofen.
Promotes Heart Health
EVOO has been touted as a heart-healthy fat. Its polyphenols may reduce the risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol levels and reduce plaque build-up in the arteries.
In one study, researchers found that consuming EVOO regularly helped patients reduce their dosage of high blood pressure drugs.
May Help Fight Against Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a growing problem across the world. An estimated 400 million people worldwide have diabetes.
Adding olive oil to your diet may help fight against diabetes. Studies have shown that this oil may help regulate blood sugar levels while boosting insulin sensitivity.
One clinical trial found that participants that followed the Mediterranean diet, which includes high consumption of olive oil, had a reduced risk of diabetes without even changing their body weight or activity levels.
Promotes Healthy Skin
Olive oil is great for the skin. It’s moisturizing, protecting, and nourishing. Olive oil contains vitamins A, E, D, and K, which are important for skin health. The antioxidants in this oil may also help reverse sun damage. Many skin care products contain olive oil for these very reasons.
There is some evidence that olive oil has antibacterial effects, which can help combat acne. It won’t clog your pores, and it does an excellent job of moisturizing the skin.
Olive oil can be applied directly to the skin or consumed in your diet to enjoy these benefits.
Promote Bone Health
Your bones are constantly breaking down and reforming. As you age, bone breakdown starts to outpace reformation. When bone loss is severe, it can lead to osteoporosis.
Olive oil’s polyphenols can help keep your bones strong and healthy as you age. It can help breakdown calcium while increasing bone formation.
Research has found that a diet rich in olive oil, fresh vegetables, fish, and whole grains can help lower hip bone loss in as little as 12 months.
Olive oil also contains oleuropein, which is a phenolic compound that is believed to boost osteoblast formation. This can help prevent the bone loss that’s associated with osteoporosis.
Animal research also suggests that olive oil’s anti-inflammatory effects may help with bone loss prevention.
Olive oil is a healthy fat that offers many benefits. Replacing just some of the fats in your diet with olive oil can help you reap some of these benefits, especially when paired with an overall healthy diet.