It is also a proven fact that the people who follow a Mediterranean diet are less prone to cardiovascular diseases, obesity and diabetes compared to the other popular diets followed. And the cooking oil used in a Mediterranean diet is none other than the extra virgin olive oil.
The health benefits of olive oil have been in discussion for decades. Most of the recent studies are recognizing the fat in olive oil (extra virgin quality) as the healthiest fat of all. This oil is also highly appreciated for the healthy fatty acids and antioxidants in it.
Cardiovascular diseases have become the single biggest health concern today for the vast majority of people all over the world.
Fortunately, it is medically proven that people who use the purest oil from olive are least affected by the heart ailments.
What Is Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
Olive oil is extracted from olive, a nut-like fruit from olive trees.
Extra virgin olive is the purest form of olive oil which is made simply by crushing the olives and extracting the oily liquid. It is pure because this does not include any chemicals or industrial refining.
Most of the brands of olive oils we get to buy in stores are not original and pure. It is profitable for the manufacturing companies to extract this oil with the help of chemicals, and some even dilute other cheaper oils into it to gain filthy money.
Very often we do not get the fullest health benefits of this oil as most of us unknowingly end up buying the adulterated olive oil.
Anytime you see the olive oil bottle has a certified label as “Extra Virgin,” it means that the brand contains the purest form. It implies that a standard olive crushing method is followed to extract the oil, and it uses the finest quality of olive selected through certain tasting and smelling method.
The characteristic traits of ‘extra virgin’ are rich aroma, distinctive taste, phenolic antioxidants, and natural fatty acids.
Of course, this purest form of oil is a lot more expensive than the regular refined olive oils.
The Nutrients In Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra Virgin Olive oil is nutritious and healthy.
It is rich in a good amount of fatty acids and Vitamins E & K.
The major portion of the fat contained in this oil is monounsaturated fat. It is highly resistant to heat and not damageable by heat up to 180 Degree Celsius temperature. Even 20 hours of constant heating may not damage this oil.
Below given are the major components found (% figures adjusted slightly for calculation convenience) in 100 grams of this oil:
- Monounsaturated Fat: 73%
- Saturated Fat: 13%
- Polyunsaturated: 14%
- Omega-6: 9%.
- Omega-3: 0.76%
- Vitamin E: 72% of the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance)
- Vitamin K: 75% of the RDA
As it appears, there is an extra bit of Omega 3 and Omega 6 in this oil, but it is not an issue as the polyunsaturated fat content is low in this oil and thus no harm to health.
The oleic fatty acid present in this cooking oil can reduce inflammatory agents like C-Reactive Protein.
The presence of antioxidants in this oil is very good, and it will certainly help the body in fighting several diseases. The antioxidants like oleocanthal & oleuropein prevent LDL cholesterol from oxidation.
Olive oil is the best cooking oil, the other one being the coconut oil.
Top Health Benefits Of Olive Oil
There are a large number of health benefits of olive oil. One of the biggest benefits of using this oil is its ability to prevent inflammation that gives rise to several fatal diseases.
In this article, we shall have a brief look at only the major health benefits of using this oil.
Alzheimer’s Disease Control
Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative issue that is faced by a large number of people, especially in old age. It is the development of beta-amyloid plaques (a kind of protein tangles), in certain neurons in the brain that causes this disease.
Some studies have proved the efficiency of olive oil in removing amyloid plaques from the brain.
It is also noticed that people who followed the Mediterranean diet, which uses extra virgin olive for cooking, faced the least possibility of cognitive impairment and memory loss.
It is good to note that olive oil can play a vital role in preventing the occurrence of a few types of cancer.
The polyphenols compound in this oil is a good antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. The cancer risk is reduced as this compound protects the body cells from oxidative stress and inflammation that often lead to the various types of cancer affects the cells.[9,10]
Several observational studies have shown that people from Mediterranean countries, who use olive oil for cooking, has the least incidents of cancers born out of oxidative stress and inflammation in the cells at the molecular level.
The extra virgin olive oil is highly resistant to heat, and thus, there is less possibility of free radicals being formed as oxidation does not happen.
The oleic fatty acid in this oil also works as an antioxidant and effectively suppresses certain genes that could develop into cancer.
The deoxyribonucleic acids (DNA) are also protected by the antioxidants in the olive oil. The healthy functioning of the cells will leave little room for the development of cancer.
In one of the studies conducted at Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona in extra virgin olive oil, it was found that breast cancer is very rare in a woman who uses olive oil in comparison to those who used vegetable oil.
There is a need for extensive human controlled studies to scientifically explore the fullest potential of olive oil in the prevention of cancer.
It is well-known health advice in Mediterranean countries that two teaspoons of olive oil a day is good for health.
It is a well-known fact to all of us that many of the diseases like heart ailments, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, etc. are caused by inflammation.
Studies have revealed that olive oil contains a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent that inhibits the activity of cyclooxygenase (COX) enzymes that cause inflammation.
The oleocanthal, the anti-inflammatory agent in olive oil, works exactly like the ibuprofen tablet popularly used as an anti-inflammatory drug.
In short, low-level anti-inflammation that begins to spread can be suppressed or removed if the extra virgin olive oil is used in cooking.
Generous usage of extra virgin oil in cooking is a good way to ward off or to get relief from diseases that are caused by inflammation.
Lowers LDL Cholesterol Levels
One of the vices arising out of unhealthy food habits is the LDL cholesterol that eventually causes fatal heart diseases.
The oleocanthal and oleuropein compounds found in extra virgin olive oil do not allow the LDL cholesterols to get affected by oxidative damages. This oil does not deposit free radicals into the cholesterol, unlike most other cooking oils.
On the other hand, the healthy fat in this oil increases the HDL Cholesterol level which is essential for the smooth transmission of blood that supplies oxygen and essential nutrients to the body cells.
The monounsaturated fat, dominant fat in olive oil, is excellent for maintaining healthy cholesterol.
Reduces High Blood Pressure
As we have already seen above, olive oil is good for promoting a healthy cholesterol level that is a very important factor in reducing high blood pressure.
Essentially, a healthy heart even at the old age is can be preserved by having a few teaspoons of olive oils daily in your food. No wonder why the Mediterranean diet that includes green salads dressed with extra virgin olive oil is proved to be a very healthy diet.
Some of the studies have pointed out that noticeable improvement in insulin senility with regular usage of this natural oil.
The monounsaturated fats from olive oil are good for maintaining healthy levels of triglyceride, a blood lipid, which ensures dual transference of blood glucose and adipose fat from the liver.
The Mediterranean diet has 50% lesser incidents of Type 2 diabetes issues than the rest. The main reason for this is attributed to the liberal usage of olive oil in this diet.
Good Benefits In Skincare
From ancient times onwards, olive extracts have been used as a perfect natural skin moisturizer and rejuvenator.
In fact, most of the natural skin lotions and creams have olive oil as a major ingredient in them.
Olive oil is rich in vitamins and nutrients extremely good for the skin; they include Vitamin E & A, fatty acids, and minerals. This oil helps the skin in wrinkle removal, softening and smoothening, complexion lightening and moisturizing.[23,24,25]
It is a natural remedy for removing pregnancy stretch marks in a woman. It is easy to ward off dry skin issues and scales formation on the skin with the daily application of olive oil over affected areas.
Make sure to use only the extra virgin olive oil on the skin to avoid the side effects of chemicals found in regular refined olive oil.
Excellent For Hair Care
If you have dry and dull hair, just start using the extra virgin olive oil to make your hair moisturized and shining.
This oil forms a protective cover around the outer layers of the hair to make them look healthy and beautiful.
The Vitamin E and fatty acids in this oil penetrate deep into the hair roots and boosts the growth of new hairs.
You will also find that most of the natural hair care solutions have olive as a very important ingredient in them.
Strengthens and Protects The Bones
A study published in 2012 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism discovered that people who used olive oil for cooking have higher levels of osteocalcin (bone gamma-carboxy glutamic acid-containing protein) in their blood. The density and strength of the bone are highly dependent on the sufficient availability of osteocalcin in the blood.
As you start using extra virgin olive oil daily for cooking your food, you will be protected from issues like osteoporosis, low bone density, and brittle teeth.
Improves Brain Functioning
Olive oil has direct effects on the health of neurons that controls and coordinates all functions of the body, memory and reasoning capacity.
It is also found that visual memory and verbal fluency improves a lot with regular consumption of this natural cooking oil.
As we had discussed at the beginning of this article, the oleocanthal compound in this oil reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease which causes dementia and memory loss.
The healthy fat supplied by olive oil is also good for reducing depression and stressful anxiety.
Good For Weight Loss
The monounsaturated fat in olive oil is healthy fat required for the body. It does not lead to excessive fat storage, especially belly fat.
A study conducted by the German Research Center for Food Chemistry in 2013 came out with a substantiated finding that foods prepared in olive oil are more filling and quickly satiating. It cuts on overeating and suppresses appetite for longer periods than other cooking oils.[32,33]
The healthy fat in the olive oil also acts as a suppressant on craving for sweets and high-calorie food.
One of the best cooking oil you can use to lose weight naturally is the extra virgin olive oil.
How Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
As we have already discussed, olive oil has several benefits and uses. It is useful for skin, hair, beauty care, health, weight loss, cooking, and weight loss.
In this section of this article, I want to dwell upon 3 best uses of olive oil for enhancement personal beauty and appearance; which include the uses of olive oil for hair, skin, and face.
1. Using Extra Virgin Olive Oil For Hair
Using extra virgin olive oil for hair helps in conditioning, nourishing and improving the thickness of hair.
This oil has the special ability to penetrate the hair strands and cortex for moisturizing the hair from within. The nutrients and vitamins in olive oil such as Vitamin E, Vitamin A, and Antioxidants in it improve the health of the hair.
Here are a few tips on how to use olive oil for hair:
- Dry Hair Treatment: Take 3tbsp EVOO in a bowl and gradually apply this oil on your dry and unwashed hair. First, massage the oil on the scalp and then apply the oil on the entire length of hair. Let the oil stay on the hair for 30 minutes and then wash and condition the hair as normally you do.
- Hair Conditioning Treatment: Add 1tbsp olive oil to 20ml of your favorite hair conditioner; blend them thoroughly. Use this oil and conditioner mixture for conditioning your hair.
- Hot Oil Treatment: Take 3 tbsp EVOO oil in a stainless steel container and warm it up in the oven. Do not overheat the oil, the temperature should be as much as the skin and hair can tolerate. Apply the warm oil on hair and scalp. It is good to massage the oil on hair for 5 minutes. After 15 minutes you can rinse the hair. It is best for dry and dandruff infected hair.
- Leave-In Treatment: A teaspoon of EVOO and mix it in a leave-in conditioner. Use this mixture for conditioning the hair. It gives lasting moisture coating to dry hair.
2. Using Extra Virgin Olive Oil On Skin
Olive oil is considered a tonic for the skin. The antioxidants, Vitamin E and monounsaturated fatty acids in this oil are very beneficial for the skin.
If you are wondering how to use extra virgin olive oil for skin, here are a few effective ways to use it:
- Olive Oil Bath: Just fill your bathtub with warm water and mix 5 tablespoons of EVOO in it. Soak yourself in this water for 20 minutes. The Olive oil bath is excellent for making your skin moisture supple, smooth and young-looking.
- Olive Oil Body Lotion For Moisturizing: You need not depend on expensive body lotion to make your skin look beautiful. Immediately after you have the shower, apply and light layer of EVOO oil on your skin. EVOO penetrates deeply to regenerate cells and soften the tissue. This helps to retain the moisture and make this skin smooth and soft. Use the oil lavishly on elbows, knees, and feet as these areas are drier than the rest of the skin.
- Cuticle And Nail Softener: Rub the EVOO on cuticles, nails, and knuckles to prevent dryness and snags. If your nails on toes and fingers have become hard and dry, keep your toes and fingers soaked EVOO mixed warm water for 10 minutes to make them soft and flexible.
- Body Scrub: You can use olive oil on the skin for a body scrub. Apply the EVOO on all over your skin and then scrub the skin with sugar or coarse salt. You will find several body scrubs with olive oil
3. Using Extra Virgin Olive Oil On Face
There are several uses for olive oil on the face. Here are a few tips on how to use extra virgin olive on face:
- Facial Cleansing: Olive oil is great for cleansing the face and skin. The excess skin oil (sebum) and dirt that clogs the skin pores will get dissolved in the olive oil that you will apply on the face. Apply the EVOO on facial skin and massage face with your fingers in a circular motion for 5 minutes. Then you can then wash off the oil from the face using warm water. This treatment may be good if you have oily skin.
- Olive Oil Makeup Remover: One of the easiest ways to get the makeup off your skin by using olive oil. Soak a cotton ball in olive and gently wipe away the makeup from your face and skin. If you have heavy makeup on face or skin, then you will have to massage the facial skin with olive oil and then wash the face with deep pores cleansing lotion. You can also use Aloe Vera juice mixed with Olive oil for makeup removal, which gives extra hydration and soothing effect on the skin.
- Exfoliation: You make an exfoliating facial scrub using a mixture of 1 tablespoon olive oil and ½ teaspoon sea salt/sugar; apply the mixture on the face and rinse the face with warm water after 10 minutes.
- Treat acne: Olive oil contains natural antibacterial properties that can effectively reduce the flare-ups on the skin caused by acne. The anti-inflammatory elements in olive oil reduce swelling and pain that occur with the outburst of pimples.
- Shaving Lubricant: Using olive oil is an excellent lubricant for shaving both body and facial hair. Of course, it may create little stickiness and less glide but the cleanup is perfect and EVOO also make your skin smooth after the share. Olive oil is also a good substitute for aftershave lotion.
The Final Word On Olive Oil
The olive oil is undauntedly the king of cooking oils which is far healthier than other cooking oils. The only other oil that comes close to this is the coconut oil that too has a lot of health benefits.
If you are prone to cardiovascular diseases, you should immediately switch over to the olive oil for better heart health.
Almost every health expert and dietitian perfectly agree on one thing is the natural goodness and health safety of using this oil for cooking.
Lastly, the regular refined oil readily available in stores is not going to give you all the health benefits we have just discussed above.
The regular refined olive oil mostly uses some chemical solvents for extraction and often comes mixed with cheaper oils like canola, soybean, palm oils, etc.
You need to read the label on the oil bottle carefully to make sure the oil you buy is marked as “extra virgin” and manufactured by trusted companies. A lot of fake oil brands are out there to deceive the unsuspecting customers with low-quality olive oil.
Make sure that you opt for the extra virgin olive oil to enjoy the fullest health benefits.
Dr. Nick on the Benefits Of Olive For Heart Health