The health benefits of olive oil are unrivaled, and research reveals more benefits nearly every day. In fact, we are only just beginning to understand the countless ways olive oil can improve our health, and our lives. Olive oil is the cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet an essential nutritional mainstay for the world’s longest-living cultures. Many of the health-promoting effects of the Mediterranean diet have been attributed to olive oil consumption.
Replacing butter and other less healthy fats with olive oil has been shown to aid in the prevention of a myriad of diseases and counter effects of aging. One prominent cardiologist recommends at least two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil each day to enjoy the many ways olive oil can be beneficial to your health and well being.
Olive oil benefits are so extensive that it is considered a functional food with components that contribute to its overall therapeutic qualities including a reduction of risk factors of coronary heart disease, the prevention of cancers, and alterations of immune and inflammatory responses.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil Contains Anti-Inflammatory Substances Olives
It is believed that chronic inflammation is among the leading drivers of many diseases.
This includes heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and arthritis.
It has been speculated that one of the mechanisms behind olive oil’s benefits, is its ability to fight inflammation.
There is some evidence that oleic acid itself, the most prominent fatty acid in olive oil, can reduce inflammatory markers like C-Reactive Protein.
But the main anti-inflammatory effects seem to be mediated by the antioxidants in olive oil, primarily oleocanthal, which has been shown to work like ibuprofen, a popular anti-inflammatory drug.
Researchers estimate that the amount of oleocanthal in 50 ml of extra virgin olive oil has an effect similar to 10% of the adult ibuprofen dosage for pain relief.
There is also a study showing that substances in olive oil can reduce expression of genes and proteins that mediate inflammation.
Eating plenty of extra virgin olive oil may help prevent this from happening, leading to a reduced risk of various inflammatory diseases.Extra Virgin Olive Oil Appears to be Protective Against Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular diseases (heart disease and stroke) are the most common causes of death in the world.
Many observational studies show that death from these diseases is low in certain areas of the world, especially the countries around the Mediterranean Sea.
This observation originally spurred interest in the Mediterranean Diet, which is supposed to mimic the way the people in those countries eat.
Studies on the Mediterranean Diet show that it can help prevent heart disease. In one major study, it reduced heart attacks, strokes and death by 30%.
Extra virgin olive oil protects against heart disease via numerous mechanisms:Reduced Inflammation:
As mentioned above, olive oil protects against inflammation, a key driver of heart disease.LDL Cholesterol:
Olive oil protects LDL particles from oxidative damage – a key step in the heart disease process.Improves Endothelial Function:
Olive oil improves the function of the endothelium, which is the lining of the blood vessels.Blood Clotting:
Some studies suggest that olive oil can help prevent unwanted blood clotting, key features of heart attacks and strokes.Lower Blood Pressure:
One study in patients with elevated blood pressure found that olive oil reduced blood pressure significantly and cut the need for blood pressure meds by 48%.
Given the known biological effects of olive oil, it is not surprising to see that people who consume the most of it are significantly less likely to die from heart attacks and strokes.Olive Oil and Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is the world’s most common neurodegenerative disease and a leading cause of dementia.
One feature of Alzheimer’s is a buildup of protein tangles called beta amyloid plaques, in certain neurons in the brain.
A study in mice showed that a substance in olive oil can help to clear these plaques from the brain.
A human controlled trial showed that a mediterranean diet enriched with olive oil had favorable effects on brain function and reduced the risk of cognitive impairment.