Question: Is olive oil good for you?
Answer: A beloved pantry staple acquired from pressed whole olives and rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, olive oil is one of the healthiest oils going according to the Dieticians Association of Australia. Actually, the list of olive oil benefits are as long as your arm.
Here are just some of the ways to use olive oil:
- food preparation (as cooking oil or dressing e.g. on salad or pasta)
- drinking it as a supplement
- as body oil to moisturise the skin,
- as a makeup remover, and
- as part of natural homemade hair masks
Being rich in vitamins and other bio compounds, olive oil is healthy choice for every kind of cooking. But before you start using olive oil in every kind of cooking and beauty ritual you can think of, make sure to pick the best kind and use it the right way to make the effort worthwhile. Not all olive oils are created equal.
The different kinds of olive oil available are legit and not just a marketing ploy. According to Kelli Clark, Associate Food Editor for Kitchn, types of olive oil are distinguished from one another by the oil extraction process, additives put into them, and acidity levels, NOT by the kind of olives used. Using this criteria, you can find two main kinds:
1. Refined-treated more during the process to remove flaws from the oil. Usually a big part of the “regular” olive oil we see stocked on shelves.
2. Unrefined-this is where the gold is: the healthiest and highest-quality of the unrefined oils is extra virgin olive oil.
Based on an antioxidant value comparison chart produced by Australia’s number one extra virgin olive oil producer Cobram Estate, unrefined oil includes significantly higher antioxidants and less trans fats when used in cooking.
When looking at extra virgin olive oil benefits, Associate Professor Mary Flynn of Brown University goes as far as to say, “published research shows that no other food comes close to Extra Virgin olive oil for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease."
Numerous other extra virgin olive oil health benefits exist, too. Here are five of the best.
1. Preventing Ulcers
Whether you’re struggling with a chronic or condition or have an acute stomach upset, consuming olive oil can help soothe ulcers. In 2007 Science Daily reported an American Chemical Society journal study found that compounds in extra virgin olive oil have antibiotic properties which work against strains of ulcer-causing H pylori as well as strains normally resistant to antibiotics.
2. Treating Constipation
Olive oil has mild laxative effects making it the perfect choice when things down there need help moving along! Healthline suggests mixing a spoonful in with juice or milk if you don’t want to drink it directly. Of course, you can put it on almost everything you cook. Drizzle it on salads, use it as a cooking oil or use a splash on a salad roll. The possibilities are both endless and delicious!
3. Pain Relief, Soothing and Disease Prevention
Back in 2005, WebMD reported olive oil got an upgrade in the health department. A previously unknown enzyme in extra virgin olive oil named Oleocanthal was discovered to have anti inflammatory properties. The Mediterraneans know this instinctively and have included it liberally in their diet for eons. Inflamation has been linked to stroke, heart disease, breast and lung cancers as well as dementia. Of course, sickness prevention isn’t all anti inflammatories do. Commercial pain relievers work the same way. It’s said a 50g dose of olive oil daily equals 10% of ibuprofen. It seems small, but makes a big difference when added into a person’s daily routine.
4. Controlling Cholesterol
Olive oil is full of fat, but the kind of monounsaturated fats in olive oil are ‘good fats’ that help get rid of the bad ones that increase cholesterol levels. To avoid overconsumption, Livestrong suggests using olive oil as a replacement for other kinds of fat you regularly use, such as butter and vegetable oil. Just don’t use it for frying.
5. Protection against Alzheimer’s
Did you know that Alzheimer’s is much less common in the Mediterannean than in the rest of the world? The likely reason? You guessed it, olive oil. The American Chemical Society says the same enzyme responsible for olive oil’s anti-inflammatory properties, Oleocanthal, also decreases the accumulation of beta-amyloid in the brain, thought to be a leading cause of Alzheimer’s.
6. Weight loss
Extra Virgin olive oil has been linked with lower Body Mass Indexes (BMIs) and reduced obesity rates in societies where it is heavily used (e.g the Mediterannean).