There is nothing better than finding something that tastes great and is also healthy to eat! Olive oil has been a staple of Mediterranean diets for thousands of years – dating all the way to ancient Romans and Greeks. To this day it is still one of the most popular cooking oils in the region… whose popularity is growing worldwide.
We have all heard experts say that olive oil is good for us but what makes is it so good to eat? Compared to other cooking oils, olive oil is truly unique. It can help with both chronic and degenerative diseases, it can improve mood and brain function, boost bone health, support a healthy gut microbiome, it is chock-full of helpful nutrients as well as monounsaturated fatty acids, and it is perfect to cook just about anything with.
Here are some of the most amazing, research-backed, health benefits you may find from adding a bit of olive oil to your diet:
-It is a fantastic anti-inflammatory
This is one of the main health benefits of consuming olive oil – particularly extra virgin olive oil – studies have shown that it can help to reduce inflammation. Chronic inflammation in your body can lead to some serious health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, blood clots, blood pressure issues, type 2 diabetes, cancer, metabolic issues, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, obesity, and many more. Olive oil contains a chemical called oleocanthal which works in the body in a way similar to ibuprofen. Lowering the inflammation in your body will not only help reduce your risks of some serious health conditions it also makes you feel better overall. Lower inflammation = lower body pain. Which means that those already suffering from painful conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, may see some benefit from adding olive oil to their diets.
-It is also antibacterial
Olive oil contains a lot of nutrients that inhibit or outright kill bacteria. Chief among those bacteria that olive oil can help with is the stomach bacterium called helicobacter pylori, which can cause stomach ulcers and cancer.
-It is full of antioxidants too
Olive oil contains beneficial monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E, vitamin K, and a variety of antioxidants that can help your body fight inflammation and lower your risk of heart disease.
-Also supports your immune system
Your body and immune system really like healthy fats! Studies have shown that adding olive oil to your diet can increase the number of and activation of T-cells (your body’s immune cells that attack foreign invaders) in your system.
-Mainly made up of healthy fat
Olive oil is extracted from the fruit of olive trees – the olives. Typically the olives are made up of about 14% saturated fat, 11% unsaturated fat (omega-3 and omega-6), with about 73% a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid. Oleic acid can reduce inflammation in the body and, some studies suggest, that it can even have beneficial effects on the genes linked to cancer growth.
-It may help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight
Olive oil can also help to stabilize blood sugar levels and curb cravings. Of course it is still an oil and pretty calorie-dense, so moderation is the name of the game, but replacing other fats in your cooking with olive oil can help keep your weight down.
-Balancing your blood sugar helps with diabetes
Speaking of stabilizing blood sugar levels… that stabilization can also help you prevent or manage diabetes, type 2 in particular. The specific monounsaturated fat in olive oil, oleic acid, is particularly protective against insulin resistance and can help keep the sugar level in the blood lower.
-It is great for cooking
Since olive oil contains so much monounsaturated fat it is resistant to heat which makes it a great choice for cooking. The oil can withstand moderate-to-high temperatures between 350°F and 410°F degrees. This means it is perfect for baking, sautéing, stir-frying, and some frying. Incredibly cooking certain vegetables in olive oil (such as pumpkin, tomatoes, and eggplant) can actually boost the antioxidant content of those vegetables.
Keep in mind that not all olive oils are created equal! Read the labels very carefully and maybe even check the quality certification listed on the bottle. Unfortunately, some companies out there dilute their olive oil with other refined oils – so even though the front of the bottle may say “extra virgin” – the ingredient list may tell a different story. Just don’t let a bad egg or two spoil your taste for this amazing liquid gold.
As you can see here, olive oil contains so many benefits for your entire body; it can potentially help with everything from lowering your bad cholesterol levels to helping prevent cancers and strokes. Combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise, a quality olive oil, consumed in moderation, is an incredibly healthy and tasty addition to your diet which may also help you prevent or lower your risk of a long list of serious health problems. There is simply no reason NOT to include it in your diet.
What are your favorite olive oils or dishes you use olive oil in?
Let us know in the comments!