Olive oil was once best known for its savory taste and versatility, but recently its popularity has skyrocketed as more attention focuses on its many healthy attributes. From helping your heart to improving your skin, olive oil has been linked to a variety of health benefits. Studies have connected daily consumption of olive oil to reduced risks of cardiovascular disease, lowered blood pressure, strengthened bones and improved immune system function. Here’s a look at the health-centric reasons you should consider using olive oil.
It’s Good for Your Heart
Olive oil has long been an integral component of the Mediterranean diet, which is associated with some of the lowest death rates from cardiovascular disease of any diet worldwide. Part of this is likely because olive oil mostly consists of monounsaturated fats, the healthiest type of fat. Also significant is olive oil’s high content of polyphenols, substances that studies have shown to lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, improve the strength of the arteries and lower inflammation. In addition, at least one study has found that when olive oil is consumed alongside certain green vegetables, omega-6 fatty acids in the oil combine with nitrates and nitrites in the vegetables to create nitro-fatty acid, a compound that has been shown to help relax blood vessels and lower blood pressure.
It’s Rich in Nutrients
Olive oil is a good source of Vitamin E, which is an essential nutrient for clear, healthy skin. It also provides Vitamin A, Vitamin K and iron, as well as carotenoids, which are potent antioxidants that can boost your immune system and improve your overall health.
It’s Good for Your Skin
Olive oil is rich in Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that repairs skin damage from the sun and helps prevent wrinkles and sunspots. By fighting skin damage and keeping skin healthy, olive oil and the nutrients it contains can even help prevent dangerous types of skin cancer.
It’s Good for Your Bones
Olive oil is a good source of Vitamin A, an essential nutrient that supports strong, healthy bones and teeth, while also helping the skin. Likewise, several studies have shown that daily consumption of extra-virgin olive oil may help combat osteoporosis, reducing the risk of bone fractures.
The List Goes On
The many health benefits of olive oil still aren’t fully understood and new studies are released nearly every week. So far, assorted studies have suggested that routine consumption may help prevent depression, lessen the effects of Alzheimer’s, lower blood sugar and even reduce of the risk of certain cancers besides skin cancer. In folk medicine, it’s been used as a laxative, sedative and muscle relaxer, and to treat headaches.
Get the Right Kind
Keep in mind that these health benefits only apply to extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil. Non-cold-pressed varieties don’t have the heart-healthy attributes, and they often lack the nutrients of cold pressed olive oil. So, read labels carefully to make sure you’re getting the full potential of olive oil.
While its health potential is considerable, olive oil, like anything, will affect everyone differently, and any specific health benefit can’t be guaranteed. The greatest health benefits come from eating a healthy, balanced diet filled with lots of vegetables, lean protein and minimal amounts of processed foods, in conjunction with living an active lifestyle with daily exercise. That said, adding olive oil into your daily diet won’t hurt, and it might just boost your health in any number of ways. And when you factor in its taste and versatility, olive oil is one healthy eating proposition that shouldn’t be overlooked.