There are arguably few products that have as much positive impact on your health as olive oil does. Healthy amounts of water are good for you, inside and out. Daily exercise fits in this category too. There is a group of “super foods” (e.g. salmon, blueberries, oats, walnuts, spinach, or soy), high in antioxidants, vitamins, and omega-3 and 6, which are important to a healthy diet. But we think that olive oil is in a class of its own for the many ways it can positively impact a healthy lifestyle.
Well-documented by numerous studies around the world, the many health benefits of olive oil make it one of the most indispensable ingredients of a healthy diet. Naturally packed with monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants, not only can a good extra virgin olive oil lower your risk of heart disease and cancer, research has shown that it also provides a wide range of anti-inflammatory benefits that can positively impact illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, and asthma. Even the FDA suggests that replacing just two tablespoons of saturated fat with extra virgin olive oil in your daily diet can have measurable positive effects.
WHAT IS OLIVE OIL?
What are the components that make adding olive oil to your daily diet such a smart idea? So far, medical research has focused on three core areas of nutritional value.
- Olive oil is mainly comprised of monounsaturated fatty acids. A healthier type of fat, it reduces total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol levels in the bloodstream, while raising high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good”) cholesterol levels.
- High quality extra virgin olive oil, in particular, provides a high content of antioxidants, like polyphenols, vitamins E & K, chlorophyll and carotenoids. Antioxidants are key to strengthening the immune system and protecting the body from the damaging effects of free-radical molecules.
- Olive oil contains anti-inflammatory agents, like oleocanthal, that act as a natural ibuprofen-like substance.
It is important to point out that not all olive oils are created equal! Extra virgin olive oil is considered the best grade to deliver healthy benefits because it is the least-processed of all olive oils. It could be described as natural olive juice. Without any processed manipulation like excessive heat or chemicals that would change its chemical makeup, extra virgin olive oil maintains the highest levels of healthy components. See How to Pick an Olive Oil at The Olive Oil Source for more details. There are wide differences even among extra virgin olive oils, in terms of their healthy benefits, depending on how they are made, what type of and how ripe the olives were when they were harvested, how the oil was stored, and many other factors.