Olive oil is an important element of Mediterranean culture. Along with seafood, wine and bread, it has become a key product on the table of the inhabitants of this region. And not just on the table: since ancient times, olive oil has been used for cosmetic purposes, lubricating carriages, sanctifying the homes of ancient Greek nobles, and even rubbing it in the skin before a battle.
By studying the history of different foodstuffs you can trace its beginning and its end. A bottle of olive oil didn’t just arrive in your kitchen cupboard from the supermarket shelf, it has travelled a long way and has thousands of years of experience behind it.
Olive oil – Nutrition facts
Olive oil has a very high energy value, no protein, high-fat content and no carbs. It also contains no sugar, no fibre and has no glycemic index. Ideal healthy fat source 🙂
Eight good news about olive oil
It is crucial to understand what your food consists of, where it comes from, and how it nutritionally benefits you. Olive oil is one of the easiest food to promote.
1Olive oil is full of healthy fats
Olive oil is the natural oil extracted from olives, the fruit of the olive tree. The predominant fatty acid in olive oil is a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid, making up 73% of the total oil content.
Studies suggest that oleic acid reduces inflammation and may even have beneficial effects on genes linked to cancer.
2Protects against type 2 diabetes
Olive oil appears to be highly protective against type 2 diabetes. Several studies have linked olive oil to its beneficial effects on blood sugar and insulin sensitivity.
A randomized clinical trial of 418 healthy people recently confirmed the protective effects of olive oil. Groups who consume olive oil on a regular basis demonstrated 52% lower levels of incidence of diabetes than groups who didn’t consume olive oil at all.
3Loaded with powerful antioxidants
Extra virgin olive oil contains a large amount of Vitamin K and Vitamin E. Also, it contains powerful antioxidants. These antioxidants are biologically active and may reduce your risk of chronic diseases.
These are hydroxytyrosol and oleuropein. These guys have the power to protect your body from microbial activity and possess several biological activities, including action against dyslipidemia, obesity, and diabetes. Olive oil promotes antioxidant, antiatherogenic, antihypertensive, anti-inflammatory, and hepatoprotective actions.
4Helps to prevent stroke
The relationship between olive oil and stroke risk has been studied extensively.
A large review of studies of 841,000 people found that olive oil was the only source of monounsaturated fat associated with a reduced risk of stroke and heart disease. The results of the review indicate an overall risk reduction of all-cause mortality (11%), cardiovascular mortality (12%), cardiovascular events (9%), and stroke (17%)
In another review of 140,000 participants, those who consumed olive oil were at a much lower risk of stroke than those who did not.
5Has protective power against heart disease
Extra virgin olive oil is one of the key ingredients in this diet, protecting against heart disease in several ways. It lowers inflammation, protects ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol from oxidation, improves the lining of your blood vessels, and may help prevent excessive blood clotting.
Interestingly, it has also been shown to lower blood pressure, one of the strongest risk factors for heart disease and premature death. In one study, olive oil reduced the need for blood pressure medication by 48%.
If you have heart disease, a family history of heart disease or any other major risk factor, you should include olive oil in your diet.
6Has antibacterial properties
Olive oil contains many nutrients that can inhibit or kill harmful bacteria.
One of these is Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium that lives in your stomach and can cause stomach ulcers and stomach cancer. Test-tube studies have shown that extra virgin olive oil fights eight strains of this bacterium, three of which are resistant to antibiotics. A study suggested that 30 grams of extra virgin olive oil, taken daily, can eliminate Helicobacter pylori infection in 10–40% of people in as little as two weeks.
7Makes blood vessels stronger
Omega-3 acids cleanse the walls of blood vessels of excess bad cholesterol, preventing the formation of cholesterol plaques. They also improve blood viscosity and normalize blood pressure, increase the level of good cholesterol, and strengthen the walls of blood vessels, making them more elastic. Plus, Omega-3 acids are important for a healthy fetal brain and eye development.
Our brains are made up of 30-40% DHA (docosahexaenoic acid – Omega-3 essential polyunsaturated fatty acid). Omega-3s can strengthen the psyche and nervous system not only in adults but even in unborn children too.
8Helps blood vessels, muscles and joints
Olive oil is rich in vitamin K, which plays an important role in blood clotting.
Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, it improves joint health and is therefore important for the elderly. Prevents the formation of kidney stones. Increases aerobic endurance and stimulates energy production, normalises gastrointestinal movement and muscle function, and improves vascular wall strength, reducing the risk of blood loss in injuries.
9It’s very accessible, inexpensive and easy to store food
Olive oil is a popular cooking oil that is widely available and relatively inexpensive. Olive oil is easy to store, as it has a long shelf life and can be kept in a cool, dark place. For example, Extra virgin olive oil will cost around £4.00 to £9.00. So you always have a choice!
To make it clear, we don’t compare olive oil with vegetable oils which are cheaper. This is because they are in very different categories in terms of balance between health benefits and downsides.
Olive oil. Some things to pay attention to
Olive oil will be safe for you and will not cause any risks if consumed within limits.
Note that you should not drink olive oil on an empty stomach, as the internet often recommends, as this can lead to gallbladder blockage and possible stones. Be careful with these recommendations
Add two tablespoons of olive oil a day for salad dressings, soups, side dishes, and marinades and your body will thank you.
When you consume more olive oil than the recommended amount, between 1 and 2 tablespoons (20-40 grams) a day, it can lead to some digestive disorders as a laxative effect. Despite having good fats, olive oil is rich in calories, which is why having this oil in a limited amount is suggested to people willing to lose some extra additional pounds. Try not to exceed the recommended amount when adding olive oil to food.
Unfortunately, there is always a risk to buy fake or substandard olive oil, as olive oil has been known to be tampered with cheaper vegetable oils or diluted with water. Some olive oils may also be labelled ‘extra virgin’ or ‘pure’, but they may not meet the standards for these classifications.
Extra-virgin olive oil is more likely to solidify or become thicker when chilled, as it has a higher concentration of monounsaturated fats. Other types of olive oil, such as ‘pure’ or ‘light’ olive oil, may not behave in the same way, as they may be made from a blend of oils or may have been processed in a way that affects their fat content.
To ensure that you are buying high-quality olive oil, it is important to check the label for information about the origin of olives and the method of extraction. Extra-virgin olive oil should be made from pure, cold-pressed olives, and should not contain any other oils or additives.
To avoid buying fake olive oil check out this video. Bobby Parrish, a YouTuber with millions of followers, will explain to you how to avoid buying fake oil products. Watch and pay attention to what you put in your shopping cart!
Fun & curious facts about olive oil
Olive trees can live up to 2000 years. This is true longevity and a good sign for us.
The majority of olive oil is produced in Europe. Spain is the largest producer, followed by Italy and Greece.
Greeks are the biggest olive oil consumers. Each Greek consumes 11,3 litres annually on average.
Technically, olive oil is a juice and its freshness is a component of how it will taste to the consumer.
EXTRA VIRGIN is the highest quality scale for olive oils. This means that the product is unfiltered and produced exclusively from natural raw materials and obtained by first cold-pressing the fruit.
Olive oil in the Blue Zones
In Ikaria, people aged 65 and older that consume at least 4 ounces (113 grams) of olive oil per day were associated with the lowest mortality rates. In other words, relatively high olive oil consumption seemed to promote higher life expectancy. Olive oil is also very popular in the Blue Zone regions of Sardinia and Loma Linda.
Let’s sum olive oil up
Olive oil, especially extra virgin one, is really good for you. It is loaded with various health benefits such as beneficial monounsaturated fatty acids, high levels of anti-inflammatory polyphenols and antioxidants. Olive oil is one of the key components in a diet focusing on health and longevity in most Blue Zones areas and all over the world.
And it’s way better than any other vegetable oil we used to have in our kitchens. There is no better oil to use than olive oil.
Not enough? Here are some more from our colleagues
Olive oil is undoubtedly the healthiest source of fat! It is used for marinating, dressing, cooking and baking. If you’re looking for the healthiest option, the evidence is clear – extra-virgin olive oil is by far the best choice.
Watch to learn more about the health benefits of olive oil.
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