What is special about extra virgin olive oil? Much has been documented on olive oil’s health benefits. For example, research evidence continues to confirm the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, which comprise the generous use of olive oil.
Olive oil is the oil obtained from olive fruits either through the cold press, extraction through centrifugation, or chemical solvents. The latter produces olive oil of low quality. Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fatty acids (up to 75% by volume). Generally, the quality of olive oil is influenced by the way in which olive oil is produced. As a result, there are three main grades: refined, virgin, and extra virgin.
Extra virgin olive oil being the least processed has the highest quality and is the healthiest type. It’s extracted by natural methods and standardised for purity taste and smell. This method of extraction protects the antioxidants (called phenols) in the oil which are otherwise depleted in the more refined ones. Therefore, when you buy olive oil for your use, especially for health reasons, be sure you are buying the right quality. The extra virgin has a distinct taste and is high in antioxidants, which is the reason for its numerous health benefits.
Health benefits of extra virgin olive oil
The oil has numerous health benefits due to its high antioxidant content. Though the health effects of the fat composition are controversial, experts generally are of the view that extra virgin olive oil is good for health. The following are some of the health benefits.
The oil is rich in antioxidants
Olive oil is loaded with powerful antioxidants which are biologically active and may help you to reduce your risk of chronic diseases. Due to the antioxidant’s properties, they could fight inflammation as well as protect your blood cholesterol from oxidation. As a result, you could lower your risk of heart disease. The oil also contains a fair amount of vitamins E and K which are also having some antioxidant properties.
Extra virgin olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats
The oil contains a predominantly monounsaturated fatty acid known as oleic acid. This fat makes up about 75% of the total oil content. About 14% of the olive oil is saturated fat, and 11% comprises polyunsaturated, including omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Research evidence suggests that oleic acid contributes to reducing inflammation. Chronic inflammation is understood to be a leading cause of heart diseases, cancer, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and arthritis. Extra virgin olive oil also contains an important anti-inflammation substance called oleocanthal, which is known to work like ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory medicine. Also, the antioxidants in olive oil can obstruct the genes that trigger inflammation.
Because monounsaturated fats are also relatively heat-stable, the oil is a healthy choice in cooking.
The oil and heart disease
Due to its inflammation lowering effect, it protects bad cholesterol from oxidation, helps to improve the lining of the blood vessels, and helps in lowering the blood pressure. The resultant effect is protecting against heart disease which is one of the most common causes of death globally. This benefit is confirmed among people who eat a Mediterranean diet with a reduced prevalence of heart disease. Extensive evidence has shown that the Mediterranean diet significantly reduces heart disease risk.
Therefore, if you have heart disease or a high-risk factor, you could benefit from including a good amount of extra virgin olive oil in your diet.
Extra virgin olive and strokes prevention
The link between the oil and stroke risk has been well documented. Stroke is often caused by a disturbance of blood flow to the brain due to a blood clot. Evidence has shown how monounsaturated fat in olive oil is linked with a reduced risk of stroke and heart disease by prevention of clot formation or blockage.
Extra virgin olive oil and obesity
The intake of high amounts of fat leads to weight gain. The healthy eating recommendation is to eat fat in moderation and to limit the intake of saturated fats. However, the intake of the Mediterranean diet which is rich in olive oil is not associated with unwanted weight gain or obesity. Nevertheless, the intake of your this oil should be in moderation.
The oil and Type 2 diabetes risk
Extra virgin olive oil is thought to be protective against type 2 diabetes due to its beneficial effects on blood sugar and insulin sensitivity. Research evidence suggests that the oil especially as demonstrated in a Mediterranean diet, can reduce people’s risk for type 2 diabetes.
The link Alzheimer
Alzheimer’s disease is caused by the buildup of plaques inside the brain cells. Substances in extra virgin olive oil have been linked with preventing the buildup of the plaques as well as removing them. As a result, the oil may help to enhance brain function and prevent delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Extra virgin olive oil and rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease characterized by deformed and painful joints. Supplementation with olive oil is shown to help in addressing the causes of the inflammation and to reduce oxidative stress in people with this disease. Therefore, this oil may benefit by reducing the swelling from rheumatoid arthritis and subsequently the pain.
The antibacterial benefits
Extra virgin olive oil contains substances that can kill harmful bacteria that live in the stomach which could cause stomach ulcers and cancer.
The health benefit of extra virgin olive oil is well documented. You will do your body a lot of good to take advantage of the benefits discussed here and many others. However, olive oil has suffered serious adulteration over the past years. Therefore, ensure you obtain your oil from credible sources. Moreover, read the label to be sure your oil is authentic extra virgin olive oil.