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8 Science-Backed Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

a small bowl of extra virgin olive oil

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil is an excellent ingredient to add to your kitchen cupboard known for its versatility, rich flavour and amazing health benefits. Oleic acid is the main fatty acid in olive oil pressed from the ripe fruit of the olive.

Extra virgin olive oil is the least processed variety of olive oil and is often considered to be the healthiest among all.

Extra virgin olive oil is a great source of antioxidants that help fight inflammation and chronic disease.

The main antioxidants of olive oil include the anti-inflammatory oleocanthal, as well as oleuropein, a substance that protects LDL (bad) cholesterol from oxidation.

What makes it so healthy?

Extra virgin olive oil benefits are loaded with monounsaturated fatty acids, which could benefit heart health and may even help protect against heart disease.

Extra virgin olive oil also contains a good amount of vitamins E which is an essential nutrient that doubles as an antioxidant and vitamin K which plays a key role in blood clotting, bone and heart health.

Extra virgin olive oil for heart health

Cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease and stroke, are some of the most common causes of death in the world.

Extra virgin olive oil uses to protect against heart disease via numerous mechanisms:

Extra virgin olive oil helps reduce inflammation. Olive oil may prevent LDL particles from oxidative damage, a key factor in the occurrence of heart disease.

Some studies suggest that olive oil can help to prevent unwanted blood clotting, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.

Research suggests that increased intake of olive oil is linked to lower blood pressure, which may help in the prevention of heart disease.

Protect Against Certain Cancers

It’s very well known that what and how we eat can impact cancer risk.

Some studies have shown a lower incidence of some cancers in regions where olive oil consumption is high.  

Researchers suspect that the unique oleocanthal content of Extra Virgin Olive Oil plays a protective role as it is an antioxidant that forms during the malaxation of extra virgin olive oil.

Olive oil and the liver

A 2018 review of 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 ward off oxidative stress, insulin resistance, inflammation, and other changes that can result in liver damage.

Olive oil and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

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

A 2019 review found that phenols in olive oil may help improve intestinal immunity and gut health by changing the microbes in the stomach. This could be very useful for people with IBD. 

Source of Antioxidants and Healthy Fats

Extra Virgin Olive Oil contains over 30 different types of phenolic compounds, which are powerful antioxidants that help protect the body against free radicals. 

It’s mainly made up of monounsaturated fat which is a heart-healthy fat.

Studies consistently link a diet high in monounsaturated fat with favourable effects on cardiovascular disease like reduction in chronic inflammation, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels.

Lower Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

The phenolic compounds present in Extra Virgin Olive Oil assist in glucose metabolism and improve the effectiveness of insulin.

A large study found that including olive oil in your daily diet could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by a certain per cent. Compared to a low-fat diet, a diet high in olive oil was also found to help normalise blood glucose levels in people who already had type 2 diabetes.

Olive oil and Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the world’s most common neurodegenerative disease and a key cause of dementia. Animal studies have found that extra virgin olive oil and some of the compounds it contains could help protect brain function by preventing the buildup of these proteins.

Additionally, following the Mediterranean diet, which is usually rich in olive oil, may also be linked with a reduced risk of dementia and cognitive impairment.

May Improve Bone Health

Rich in polyphenols, extra virgin olive oil, may prevent bone loss with ageing.

A recent study found that people who consumed the highest amount of extra virgin olive oil had a 51% lowered risk of bone fractures.

Take Away

Extra virgin olive oil is not only loaded with heart-healthy fats, but it’s also a good source of antioxidant compounds, like vitamin E, oleacein, and oleocanthal.

It has powerful health benefits and may help prevent heart disease, promote brain function, and protect against certain types of cancer.

Olive oil may provide some wonderful benefits for the skin, including vitamins, antioxidants, and antibacterial effects. However, the research on the benefits of olive oil for the face and skin is limited.

Evidence suggests that it may cause adverse reactions in some people, so people with sensitive skin should use it carefully and do a patch test first.

Many people use olive oil for hair to help improve the strength, shine, and health of their hair.

Plus, it’s incredibly flexible and makes a great addition to several recipes.