Olive oil consumption is steadily increasing, and it’s easy to see why. It’s rich in antioxidants and omega-3s that keep your body in peak health. The oil is particularly beneficial in its least processed form: cold pressed extra virgin olive oil. The widespread popularity of Mediterranean cuisine and balanced diets have made it even more appealing.
But is it worth the hype?
We look at ten science-backed benefits of the ingredient that has staked a claim in the hearts of the health-conscious, with intel on how to incorporate it into your diet.
10 Impactful Health Benefits of Olive Oil
Here are some reasons why you need to incorporate olive oil into your diet:
1. Aids in Weight Management
Studies have shown that a Mediterranean-style diet rich in virgin olive oil can increase plasma antioxidant capacity which can lead to weight loss. It can also give you a feeling of fullness after eating so it could reduce excessive calorie intake.
2. Counteracts Obesity-Related Diseases
Vegetable-based oils contain unprecedented amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 acids that can increase the risk of developing obesity. Hydroxytyrosol, a polyphenol in olive oil, can counter these effects by improving the chronic inflammation of the adipose tissue, known for its role in insulin resistance and metabolic dysfunction.
3. Offer Neuroprotective Influence
Olive oil contains as many as 30 phenolic compounds, which exhibit neuroprotective effects against brain disorders. A study indicates that they can modify different cellular mechanisms associated with the onset and development of such diseases.
Beyond that, animal studies have also indicated that it quickly clears the deposited β-amyloid (Aβ) from the brain, thereby reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
In addition, olive oil has beneficial effects on learning and memory deficits.
4. Fights Inflammation
Olive oil is rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA). They comprise an impressive 75% of the ingredient with oleic acid taking up 73% of the total oil content.
This particular fatty acid plays a beneficial role in reducing the biomarkers of inflammation such as C-reactive protein (CRP). They play a role in the onset or progression of many chronic and neurodegenerative diseases.
5. Helps Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis
Thanks to its strong anti-inflammatory effects, olive oil can provide relief to some people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). A review of a recent Italian cross-sectional study has shown that increasing the consumption of olive oil, olives, and nuts could potentially reduce RA activity and promote lower levels of the C-reactive protein (DAS28-CRP).
6. May Improve Heart Health
About 695,000 people die from heart disease in the U.S. every year. Since deaths and disabilities from cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) have been steadily rising over the last 30 years, it has become more important than ever to safeguard your health.
One of the easiest ways to do so is by adding olive oil to your diet.
The plant polyphenols and other nutrients in olive oil can lower cardiovascular disease risk and CVD mortality by 19%! It does this by lowering your central and peripheral systolic blood pressure while reducing the risk of atherosclerosis, which can cause your arteries to thicken and harden. It can also reduce your risk of stroke.
7. Might Prevent Liver Damage
Olive oil has polyphenols and mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) like oleic acid. They have been shown to control hepatic steatosis, a spectrum of chronic liver disease, through the activation of the PPAR gamma 2 gene (PPARG2).
8. Provides Protection Against Many Cancers
Many studies point out that people living in Mediterranean countries have a lower risk of overall cancer than people living in the U.S. and the U.K.
Many claim it’s due to their diets which include high consumption of olive oil.
Olive oil can reduce the oxidative damage caused by free radicals that are linked with cancer initiation and progression. According to a study on breast cancer, it can also regulate the malignant behavior of cancer cells. This aligns with the findings of a large-scale systematic review of 19 observational studies, which show that a higher intake of olive oil is associated with lower odds of having any type of cancer.
9. Reduces the Risk of Type-2 Diabetes
A Mediterranean diet with olive oil can lower the incidence of type-2 diabetes without contributing to the number of calories consumed. This could be due to its tyrosol content, a compound that can improve insulin resistance, counteract the impairment of antioxidant cellular defense, and prevent sudden spikes in blood sugar levels.
Meanwhile, a 2017 review reveals that it improves glycemic control. As such, it can be an excellent lifestyle change for diabetes management.
10. Wards Depression
According to a double-blind randomized trial, the daily consumption of extra virgin olive oil may reduce symptoms among patients with severe depression. And the best thing is it offers significant changes without affecting cortisol and BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) levels.
How To Cook With Olive Oil
Olive oil is extremely versatile, so you can easily use it instead of vegetable oil.
Well, most of the time.
Since extra virgin olive oil can have a strong fruit aroma and a bitter and distinct green olive taste, it’s best to use it in moderation. Because it has a relatively lower smoke point (365–420°F) than other oils, it’s best for sauteing, stir-frying, deep frying, roasting, and baking. You can also use it in marinades and salad dressings or drizzle it over a freshly prepared salad for extra flavor.
Here are some delicious recipes that will give you a head start.
As you can tell, olive oil is an excellent addition to your diet. It will pump you up with good-for-you nutrients that can protect your heart, uplift your mood, keep inflammation at bay, and help you meet your fitness goals. So, even though it’s on the expensive side, most people will readily pay the difference!