Most people agree that virgin olive oil is one of the best sources of ‘good fat’. Studies have found that fatty acids and antioxidants in olive oil offer numerous health benefits for the heart, eyes, brain, and more.
No wonder then that this Mediterranean diet has been widely used all over the world. But before we list out the various health benefits of olive oil, let us understand the difference between virgin and other olive oils.
Virgin Olive Oil Vs. Other Olive Oils
The production of higher quality extra virgin olive oil or even virgin olive oil varies from refined oils.
After grinding them into a paste, the olives are pressed to extract. The process involves no heat, hence called cold-pressed.
In contrast, the production of regular oil includes both cold-pressing and processing techniques.
Genuine extra virgin olive oil from good producers contains a large number of polyphenolic antioxidants.
Refined olive oils, however, do not contain such large amounts of polyphenolic compounds. Most of the compounds and other nutrients are lost during manufacturing.
Since virgin olive oil relies purely on cold-pressing techniques, it has a rich forest green color and a fruity aroma. Refined oils are much lighter in color.
Unlike the neutral flavor of refined oils, high-quality extra virgin has a peppery flavor that causes a burning feeling in the back of the throat.
The anti-inflammatory compound called oleocanthal present which causes this sensation.
Certifying the product pure extra virgin is also a rigorous, time-consuming process. This factor leads to its price being slightly on the higher side. But considering its innumerable benefits, it’s worth the price.
Nutritional Components Of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
It has a lot more to offer than refined vegetable oils. It contains decent amounts of vitamins E and K and an abundance of beneficial fatty acids.
One tablespoon of oil contains 14% saturated fat, 73% of monounsaturated fat, 13% of vitamin E, and 7 % of vitamin K.
As you see, extra virgin olive oil has many monounsaturated fatty acids, unlike other oils that have high saturated fatty acids in them. These healthy fats are linked to several health benefits.
Some people are concerned about olive oil having a high omega-6 to omega-3 ratio (over 10:1). However, the amount of polyunsaturated fats is still relatively low, so one need not worry about that.
Health Benefits Of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Works As An Anti-Inflammatory
Inflammation is the primary cause of many diseases, including heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and arthritis.
Olive oils’ ability to fight this inflation comes from the anti-inflammatory properties of the phenolic compound found in it.
Research has suggested that the polyphenols prevent the fats from oxidizing during high-heat cooking.
Likewise, several human trials have shown that olive oil polyphenols help to reduce oxidized LDL cholesterol and instead enhance the functionality of ‘good’ cholesterol.
Rich In Antioxidants
One of the main reasons why it is widely recommended is because of its powerful antioxidant qualities.
The antioxidant qualities are again derived from polyphenols, micronutrients found in olive oil. These polyphenols lessen the oxidative stress in your body.
Antioxidants also make you more resistant to infections and inflammation by strengthening your immune system.
Helps In Controlling Diabetes
Diabetic patients are generally prescribed to follow a diet rich in fiber. They are also advised to incorporate more monounsaturated fats instead of saturated fats and carbohydrates in their diet.
Many studies show that when taken regularly, can help lower ‘bad’ low-density lipoproteins while regulating blood sugar and improving insulin sensitivity.
According to the US FDA, the monounsaturated fat content of olive oils lowers the risk the heart disease to some extent.
A high level of bad cholesterol is the major risk factor for heart disease. Antioxidants like oleocanthal and oleuropein present in olive oil have anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce the levels of bad cholesterol.
A daily two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil is recommended to keep your heart safe and healthy.
Promotes Brain Health
A moderate amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids present in extra virgin olive oil are vital for brain health.
It has been scientifically observed that regular consumption can alleviate the risk of Alzheimer’s disease to some extent.
A recent study found in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology suggests that extra virgin olive may contain substances that help protect the brain tissue against the accumulation of toxic plaques that lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
It perfectly supports your weight loss initiative. The fatty acids found in olive oil have satiating powers that cure your hunger by giving you a greater feeling of fullness.
Although a little high in calories, the healthy fat of the extra virgin olive oil is an excellent alternative to the other fats like butter or refined oils, especially if you are on a diet.
In fact, it is a common practice in Greece to drink one-fourth cup of extra virgin olive oil every morning to reduce weight and increase longevity.
Your dietician can guide you better on how to best incorporate extra virgin olive oil in your weight loss diet plan.
Boost Hair And Skin Health
Virgin olive oil is great, not just your inner health but your skin, too! It consists of high levels of polyphenols, vitamin E, and phytosterols, which function as both antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.
The oil helps to protect your skin against sun damage and increases its moisture retention capacity. The wonderful liquid fat also works as a natural conditioner for your hair, keeping it smooth and healthy.
It’s easy to see why this is one of the healthiest oil choices around. All the reasons mentioned above have led to an increased demand for olive oil across the world.
So buy a bottle of the best extra virgin olive oil today and improve your health and life in countless ways!