Extra virgin olive oil, an integral part of the Mediterranean diet for thousands of years, has been studied by scientists around the world to determine its value for human health and well-being. These studies have proven that the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil are extensive. Here are just a few of the ways that olive oil can keep us healthy.
Olive Oil Can Help Prevent Certain Cancers
Olive oil is rich in antioxidants such as vitamin E and naturally occurring organic chemicals known as phytonutrients, which help prevent disease and keep the body working properly. Phytonutrients are proven tumor inhibitors and aid in neutralizing free radicals thus diminishing the risk of many types of cancer, including breast, colon, esophageal, prostate and skin cancers. One compound, Oleocanthal, has anti-inflammatory properties and can decrease inflammation in the same way as ibuprofen, which is relevant because nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have been related to both a decreased risk of breast cancer and its recurrence.
Regular Consumption of Olive Oil Can Decrease Blood Pressure
Researchers have demonstrated that polyphenols, components of extra virgin olive oil that act like antioxidants, and oleic acid, a fatty acid in olive oil, are responsible for the lowering effect in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Olive Oil Can Help Lower Your “Bad” Cholesterol (LDL)
Monounsaturated fats protect against the buildup of plaque in the arteries, which can eventually lead to a blockage and the threat of a heart attack. Olive oil, one of the best sources of monounsaturated fats, not only lowers LDL, it also preserves the
levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL) which protects the heart and reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.
A Diet Rich in Olive Oil May Lower the Risk of Type II Diabetes
Olive oil increases insulin sensitivity so that your body doesn’t need to produce as much of this hormone, thus lowering the risk of contracting Type II Diabetes. It also contributes to better control of glucose in the blood, which is important for those who already have the disease.
Olive Oil Can Aid Cognitive Function
Emerging research shows that olive oil helps protect the cells of our central nervous system and brain, lowering the risk for dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Olive Oil Fights Osteoporosis
Supplementing your diet with olive oil has been found to positively affect the thickness of bones.