Olive oil can help you combat inflammation, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, speed up your metabolism, and help you lose weight.
Sounds amazing, right? Well, stick around to find out even more benefits covered in this post, and they’re all backed by science.
Olive oil, often referred to as “liquid gold,” has not only stood the test of time but has consistently outshone most other cooking oils. While it’s renowned for its rich, robust flavor in foods, its contributions to health are equally remarkable.
So, let’s discover how olive oil’s unique blend of flavor and nutrition transforms it into more than just an ingredient but a modern-day remedy and superfood.
Olive Oil and Its Types
Olive oil is a type of oil obtained from grinding and extracting the oil from the fruit- Olives. Compared to the widely used oil variants like vegetable and groundnut oil, which is made from seeds, olive oil is made from the flesh of the fruit and packs a punch of health benefits, making it worth the calories.
It’s great for cooking salad dressings, and here’s a sneak benefit- (It can prolong the shelf life of baked and canned foods!). Olives can range from earthy green colors to near golden, which can impact how olive oils taste.
Here are the different grades and types it comes in, from best quality to lowest:
Extra virgin Olive oil (EVOO)
This is the best and highest quality olive oil because it goes through the least amount of processing, letting it retain more of its natural nutrition and flavor.
Virgin Olive oil (VOO)
It’s a bit lower in quality than extra-virgin and a bit more processed, but virgin olive oil is still top-notch and packs a punch of the same health benefits.
Refined Olive Oil (ROO)
This is a type of virgin olive oil that goes through additional processing, which can impact the taste and quality. This is the type that’s easily available in most stores, though not as high in quality; you get most of the benefits.
Olive Oil Nutritional Facts
Olive oil is nutrient-dense and is great for anyone trying to eat healthy, lose weight, and prevent certain diseases if taken in enough amounts.
Quick fun fact: The average olive tree lives for 300-600 years.
Pretty fascinating, right? There are more fun facts if you keep reading!
So, now, let’s get into its nutritional facts per 1 Tablespoon (13.5g):
- Calories: 119
- Total fat: 14 grams
- Monounsaturated fat: 9.58 grams
- Polyunsaturated fat: 1.86 grams
- Vitamin E: 2.93 mg, which is 20% of your recommended daily value
Olive oil is mainly composed of monounsaturated fat- A healthy fat and is low in saturated fat, the type of fat you don’t want to be consuming.
Studies have shown that swapping sources of saturated fats found in foods like butter and most cheeses for olive oil comes with a plethora of benefits that will be covered below. Let’s get into what you came for, finally, right?
The 13 Health Benefits of Olive Oil
From improved heart health and brain function to helping you fight common diseases, let’s dive into the science-backed and proven health benefits of olive oil.
1. Olive oil is rich in healthy fats
Over 70% of olive oil is made of a monounsaturated fat known as oleic acid. Studies have shown that oleic acid can help combat Alzheimer’s disease and lower inflammation and cholesterol. Healthy fats are good for the body for various reasons: they make meals more satiating, and they contain antioxidants.
2. It contains huge amounts of antioxidants
Olive oil is high in vitamins E and K and is also loaded with antioxidants.
Let’s understand something quickly about antioxidants- Antioxidants regulate unstable molecules in the body known as free radicals. If left unregulated, these free radicals can cause oxidative stress, which leads to the immersion of diseases like high blood pressure and heart disease, to name a few.
Why should you care? The antioxidants in olive oil can combat and prevent these illnesses.
3. It helps combat inflammation
As said earlier, olive oil is packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that help reduce chronic inflammation in the body. These inflammations are a key factor in various chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Adding olive oil to your meal plan can assist in managing and preventing these health issues.
4. Olive oil can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes
Studies show that olive oil consumption has been associated with a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This is because of its high content of monounsaturated fats, which can improve insulin sensitivity.
When your body responds better to insulin, it helps regulate blood sugar levels more effectively. Replacing high-saturated oils and foods with olive oil and other sources of healthy fats can significantly lower your cholesterol and regulate blood sugar levels, leading to the prevention or management of type 2 diabetes.
5. It can help prevent strokes
The healthy fats and antioxidants in olive oil play a key role in promoting heart health, which, in turn, reduces the risk of strokes.
By keeping your blood vessels healthy, olive oil contributes to stable blood flow and helps prevent blood clots, which is significant in preventing strokes.
6. Olive oil comes with antibacterial properties
Olive oil also comes with natural antibacterial properties. These properties are mainly attributed to compounds like hydroxytyrosol and oleuropein, which can help fight off harmful bacteria in the body.
7. Helps speed up metabolism
You read that right! Olive oil can be used as a metabolism booster. Its healthy fats and antioxidants have a thermogenic effect, meaning they can increase your metabolic rate.
8. It can help you lose weight
Although olive oil is calorie-dense, it can still help you lose weight when consumed in moderation.
The healthy fats in olive oil provide a feeling of fullness, thereby reducing cravings for unhealthy snacks, which tend to lead to weight loss. This is why the keto diet works so well, as most of your calories will come from fat.
9. Supports a healthy gut
Olive oil contains compounds called polyphenols that have prebiotic properties (Hard to digest) and help combat oxidative stress.
Polyphenols can help nourish the beneficial bacteria in your gut, promoting a balanced and healthy gut microbiome. A healthy gut is linked to improved digestion, better nutrient absorption, and a stronger immune system.
10. It’s great for healthy cardiovascular health
Oleic acid present in monounsaturated fats can lower bad cholesterol levels while maintaining or even increasing good cholesterol levels. This balance is crucial for cardiovascular health to maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
11. Can improve liver health
The antioxidants in olive oil, such as oleuropein and squalene, can help protect the liver from oxidative stress and inflammation. These compounds support optimal liver function and reduce the risk of liver diseases.
12. Olive oil may strengthen your bones
Olive oil is a great source of vitamin K, which plays a vital role in bone health. It contributes to bone mineralization and density.
13. Great for nail health
Olive oil can be used to improve the appearance and health of your nails. It’s a natural moisturizer that can strengthen brittle nails and hydrate dry cuticles.
How to Efficiently Consume Olive Oil
We’ve gone through the benefits, and now you’re probably wondering how to properly consume olive oil the best way. Olive oil can be added to a variety of sweet and tasty dishes, and to retain most of its nutrients, ensure you don’t let it burn over high heat. Let’s explore some simple ways you can use it:
- Drizzle olive oil on cooked dishes like roasted vegetables and pasta.
- Use olive oil when making baked foods like bread, cakes, and other pastries.
- Use olive oil instead of butter when making meals that don’t require high heat.
- Drizzle it on your salads.
- Are you a fan of sauce dips? Use olive oil when making sauces.
- If you’re using extra-virgin olive oil, you can consume it directly.
How to Store it
You’ve excitedly rushed to the grocery store to get yourself some bottles of olive oil, it can be pretty pricey, so you need to know how to efficiently store it to last and stay fresh for long. Here are some storage tips:
- Store it in a cool and dark area, such as a cabinet.
- Make sure the lid is closed tight when not in use.
- Don’t keep it close to any source of heat or direct light.
- Don’t fill it to the brim; leave some space in the bottle to limit the oil’s exposure to oxygen when using it.
Some Downsides of Olive oil
As amazing as olive oil is, it still has some drawbacks, as everything good does. Consuming too much or a very low-quality olive oil can come with some negative effects:
Olive oil is calorie-dense, with about 120 calories per tablespoon. Taking too much of it can contribute to weight gain. So, just with any other food, take it wisely.
Some of them can be overprocessed.
Some commercially available olive oils may be overprocessed or diluted with other, less expensive oils. This can reduce the quality and health benefits of the oil. Look for extra-virgin or virgin olive oils.
Heartburn and Digestive Issues
For some people, consuming large amounts of olive oil, especially on an empty stomach, can lead to heartburn or digestive issues.
Olive oil has a relatively low smoke point, meaning it can degrade when exposed to high heat.
High-quality, extra virgin olive oil can be pretty expensive compared to other cooking oils, which may not be ideal for everyone’s budget.
Quick Fun fact: You need 6 kilograms of olives to produce a single liter of extra-virgin olive oil. That’s over 6000 olives! Now you know why they cost so much.
There you have it: 13 Health benefits of olive oil. It is not just a delicious ingredient but also a health superstar. It reduces inflammation, lowers diabetes risk, and even speeds up metabolism, aiding weight loss. Packed with antioxidants, it leads to a lower risk of heart diseases, fights common diseases, and supports heart health, preventing strokes and boasting antibacterial properties. So, embrace this culinary treasure for its taste and remarkable health benefits.
Faysal Tahir is a Fitness and Nutrition writer that has a passion for spreading accurate, easy-to-understand, and applicable fitness content and is the sole owner and writer for FitFaysal. He is an avid gym goer and wants to make a name for himself in the fitness space.
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