12 Health Benefits of Olive Oil
Homer the famous Greek poet called olive oil “Liquid Gold.” Considering the phrase “you are what you eat,” what would happen if you consumed “Liquid Gold” daily?
Olive oil has so many health benefits that I eat a little every day. It helps me feel strong and radiant — it’s one of the top oils you need in your kitchen.
“If my cuisine were to be defined by just one taste, it would be that of subtle, aromatic, extra-virgin olive oil.” – Alain Ducasse
12 Health Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1. Helps Reduce Type 2 Diabetes
A Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, has been shown to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by almost 50 percent compared to a low fat diet, according to this Spanish study.
2. Weight Loss
Olive oil makes you feel full. In one study, participants ate low-fat yogurt over a period of three months. The yogurt was enriched with one of four edible fats: lard, butterfat, grapeseed oil and olive oil. “Olive oil had the biggest satiety effect. The olive oil group showed a higher concentration of the satiety hormone serotonin in their blood. … participants also reported that they found the olive oil yogurt very filling.” says Professor Peter Schieberle, Head of the TUM Chair of Food Chemistry and Director of the German Research Center for Food Chemistry.
3. Good for a Healthy Heart
Olive oil slows down aging of the heart. Those who consume olive oil regularly are less likely to develop cardiovascular diseases.
4. Helps lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. Twenty-eight outpatients given olive oil supplements once a day for six weeks had a decline in total bad cholesterol to good cholesterol ratios.
5. Helps with Bone Health
People who consume olive oil have higher levels of osteocalcin protein which has a protective effect on bone, according to a two-year study.
“Italians … seemed never to die. They eat olive oil all day long … and that’s what does it.” – William Kennedy
6. Reduces Ear Aches Caused by Ear Wax
Too much wax in the ears can cause ear aches. Olive oil can help soften and remove ear wax.
8. Repair Damaged Hair
Olive oil used as a deep conditioner can soften your hair and help repair damage. Also, eating olive oil helps hair from the inside-out because it is rich in vitamins A, B-1, B-2, C, D, E, K and iron.
9. Protects Against Colon Cancer & Ulcerative Colitis
Olive oil can protect against bowel cancer according to research in 28 countries. Also, those with a high consumption of oleic acid (component of olive oil) had a 90 percent lower risk of developing ulcerative colitis compared to those with a low consumption.
10. Nourishes Your Skin
Olive oil moisturizes by penetrating deeply into the skin without clogging pores, unlike what many commercial skin moisturizers do. It does this so well that it is often used for skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis.
11. Reduces Skin Cancer
Melanoma, a dangerous type of skin cancer, can be slowed down by consumption of olive oil which is rich in antioxidants, a study conducted by Dr. NivaShapira from Tel Aviv found. Dr. Shapira says that consuming olive oil and other Mediterranean foods, could be countering the oxidizing effect of the sun. Interesting fact: only three in every 100,000 residents of countries in the Mediterranean develop any form of skin cancer.
12. Improves Digestion
Olive oil increases the production of peptides, which support healthy digestion.
More of a visual learner? Check out this easy-to-read infographic explaining the 12 benefits listed above:
The Ancients Knew Olive Oil’s Value
The ancient Greeks believed olive trees were a gift sent from the wise, courageous and inspirational goddess Athena. Olive trees were considered so sacred that the Greek Laws of Solon in the 6th to 7th century BC would not allow them to be cut down.
In the Mediterranean, the olive tree has been thought of as sacred for thousands of years. With a life span of 300 to 400 hundred years, we are fascinated by it.
How is Olive Oil Made?
Olives, the fruits of the olive tree, are pressed and the olive oil is released. As simple as that is, it isn’t always what actually happens. Some companies extract the oil by using chemicals like solvents, or they heat treat the olives to extract the oil. To make more money they may even dilute it with cheaper oils.
Which Olive Oil to Buy? Beware of Frauds!
There are so many olive oil brands on store shelves, it can be hard to know which ones are authentic. Just because the label says “extra-virgin olive oil” does not mean that it actually is. Learn how to deal with olive oil fraud here.
How to Use Olive Oil
Do not use olive oil for cooking at high temperatures. It has a low smoke point and heat makes it susceptible to oxidative damage. It is best to add olive oil to foods immediately after cooking.
Remember to store oil in a tightly sealed jar in the refrigerator.
My Favorite Recipes Using Olive Oil:
Light Lemon Oil Salad Dressing: Includes base recipe with optional herbal ingredients.
Vegan Pesto: I love this vegan pesto — minus the cheese.
*Image of “olive oil” via Shutterstock