Major Health Benefits of Olive Oil
Olive oil provides a host of health benefits that make it a superior alternative to other cooking oils. It is a staple of the Mediterranean diet, a region known for longer than average lifespans and lower rates of many chronic diseases, and thousands of studies have shown that the unique properties of olive oil are partly responsible. Below are some of the most impressive health benefits of this flavorful and nutritious oil.
Better Cardiovascular Health
Diets incorporating olive oil have been directly linked to lower rates of cardiovascular disease, endothelial damage, and cholesterol. In elderly people, switching from other cooking oils to olive oil has even been shown to improve artery health, including high reduction of stroke risk. As well, olive oil contains high amounts of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, both of which fight the harmful effects of oxidative stress on the cardiovascular system. Adding as little as 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil a day to the average diet can drastically improve heart health.
A Healthier Digestive Tract
The antioxidants and anti-inflammatories found in olive oil benefit the digestive system, as well. Increased olive oil consumption has been linked to lower rates of colon cancer and intestinal cancer. The polyphenols in olive oil also help to maintain a healthy balance in the digestive tract by slowing the growth of harmful bacteria which can cause ulcers and inflammation of the stomach lining.
There is strong evidence that olive oil can contribute to stronger, less brittle bones, helping to slow the damage caused by osteoporosis. Laboratory testing linked olive oil consumption with increased production of calcium and phosphorous, as well as decreased rates of bone density loss.
Improved Brain Function
Regular use of olive oil has been shown to correlate with improved short-term visual memory and verbal fluency. Laboratory testing has also suggested a possible link between olive oil consumption and the ability of the brain to balance water content and central nervous system activity.
Finally, olive oil may aid in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease by slowing the accumulation of brain plaque and boosting the production of beneficial protein enzymes in the brain. Though testing is not yet definitive on the matter, the fact that the Mediterranean region has one of the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s disease in the world seems to support this conclusion.
Lower Risk of Depression
Higher rates of depression are linked to diets rich in trans-fats, as opposed to the monounsaturated fats found in olive oil. While olive oil isn’t the only vegetable-based oil to contain this kind of fat, it does contain the highest concentration of it among all oils.
Studies suggest that olive oil may have a protective effect against the risk of depression, even when physical activity and general mental health is taken into account. In one study, those who consumed olive oil had a 48% lower risk of depression than those who regularly consumed trans-fats.
There is more than enough evidence to show that incorporating olive oil into a normal diet provides impressive health benefits. People that consume olive oil regularly are at a lower risk for virtually every major chronic disease, and in some cases olive oil can even help to reverse damage that has already been done. Replacing only one or two teaspoons of other cooking oils with olive oil each day is enough to reap the many benefits.