12 benefits and uses of extra virgin olive oil
1. Rich in nutrients in extra virgin olive oil
2. Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil is packed with healthy fats
3. Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil contains powerful antioxidants
4. Cold-Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil Can Fight Inflammation
5. Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil may protect against heart disease
6. Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil can promote brain health
7-10 Other Potential Health Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
11. Cold-Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil May benefit hair, skin, and nails
12. Easily adding extra virgin olive oil to your diet
Cold pressing is a common way to produce extra virgin olive oil without the use of heat or chemicals.
It involves crushing olives into a paste and then applying force through a mechanical press or centrifugation to separate the oil from the pulp. According to European food standards, temperatures of 27 °C must not be exceeded.
Cold pressing can help extra virgin olive oil retain its nutritional value, as nutrients and beneficial phenolic compounds can be broken down under high alcohol levels.
The varieties of olive oil are determined by the levels of oleic acid they contain. The highest grades, extra virgin, and virgin are always cold-pressed to obtain high levels of oleic acid.
Here are 12 benefits and uses of extra virgin olive oil.
1. Rich in nutrients in extra virgin olive oil
Since it consists practically only of fat, cold-pressed olive oil is high in calories.
However, its main type of fat – unsaturated fat – is incredibly healthy.
Compared to diets high in saturated fat, those high in unsaturated fatty acids are associated with a lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and other chronic diseases.
Extra virgin olive oil also contains vitamins E and K. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant involved in immune function, while vitamin K plays a key role in blood clotting and bone health.
Only 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of extra virgin olive oil provides:
• Calories: 119
• Total fat: 13.5 grams
o Saturated fat: 2 grams
o Monounsaturated fatty acids: 10 grams
o Polyunsaturated fatty acids: 1.5 grams
• Vitamin E: 12.9% of daily value (DV)
• Vitamin K: 6.8% of DV
Extra virgin olive oil also contains at least 30 beneficial polyphenols (phenolic compounds), many of which are powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory effects.
Extra virgin olive oil is rich in healthy fats, dozens of effective plant substances and vitamins E and K.
2. Extra virgin olive oil is packed with healthy fats
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that you consume 20-35% of your calories from fat, mainly from unsaturated fats.
Extra virgin olive oil is made up almost entirely of fat, with 71% coming from an unsaturated fat called oleic acid.
Studies suggest that oleic acid and other unsaturated fats may help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol when used instead of saturated ones.
Another 11% of the fat in cold-pressed olive oil comes from omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. These two unsaturated fats are involved in important body processes, such as blood pressure regulation, blood clotting, and immune system response.
Although olive oil contains 2 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon (15 ml), this is well below the daily limit of 13–22 grams recommended by most health authorities for a standard 2,000-calorie diet.
Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil contains mainly oleic acid, a fat that can help lower cholesterol levels. It also provides omega-6 and omega-3 fats, which are essential for your health.
3. Extra virgin olive oil cold-pressed olive oil contains powerful antioxidants
Extra virgin olive oil can contain more antioxidants than low-quality olive oils because it is not treated with heat.
Antioxidants protect your body from unstable molecules called free radicals. This, in turn, helps ward off chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Per tablespoon (15 ml), extra virgin olive oil contains 12.9% of the DV for vitamin E – an essential nutrient and powerful antioxidant.
It is also rich in plant compounds such as oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol, which have shown powerful antioxidant properties in animal and test-tube studies.
Researchers believe these compounds may be partly responsible for the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, including stronger bones and a lower risk of heart disease, brain disease, and certain cancers.
Extra virgin olive oil cold-pressed contains powerful antioxidants that can protect your body from numerous diseases.
4. Extra virgin olive oil can fight inflammation
Persistent, low-grade inflammation is thought to play a role in many conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and Alzheimer's.
Studies suggest that extra virgin olive oil may help reduce inflammation due to its high concentration of healthy fats, antioxidants, and compounds such as oleocanthal.
Oleocanthal is a natural anti-inflammatory. Test-tube studies show that it works similarly to ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory drug — although human studies are needed.
Keep in mind that including more plant-based options in your diet can reduce inflammation more effectively than relying on a single compound, nutrient, or food.
Still, replacing foods high in saturated fat – such as butter, shortened fat and lard – with cold-pressed olive oil is an excellent start.
Due to its high concentration of healthy fats, antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds, extra virgin olive oil can help reduce inflammation.
5. Extra virgin olive oil can protect against heart disease
Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women worldwide, accounting for over 17 million deaths per year.
Numerous studies show that replacing foods high in saturated fat with olive oil can help lower high LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and blood pressure – two major risk factors for heart disease.
A study of over 84,000 women found that replacing 5% saturated fats with foods high in monounsaturated fats, including olive oil, reduced the risk of heart disease by 15%.
The Mediterranean diet, which relies on olive oil as the main source of fat, has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by up to 28%.
Replacing saturated fat sources with cold-pressed olive oil can reduce the risk of heart disease.
6. Extra virgin olive oil can boost brain health
Diets high in cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil have been shown to support brain health.
One example is the MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay), which especially recommends cooking with olive oil. It combines the traditional Mediterranean diet with the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.
In population studies, individuals who follow the MIND diet show a slower decrease in mental acuity and memory as they age, as well as after a stroke.
A 4.5-year study of 923 people found a 53% reduction in Alzheimer's disease rates in those who adhered most strictly to the diet.
The combination of brain-boosting foods in the diet may also be responsible for their benefits. In addition to extra virgin olive oil, the MIND diet contains plenty of vegetables, berries, nuts, whole grains and fish. It is also low in sodium.
In addition, animal and test-tube research suggests that oleocanthal, a compound in extra virgin olive oil, may help reduce brain plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease. Nevertheless, human research is required.
A diet high in extra virgin olive oil can help prevent the mental decline associated with age and reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease.
7–10. Other Potential Health Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Although research is limited, cold-pressed olive oil may offer other potential health benefits. These include:
7. Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Human studies link diets with the highest levels of extra virgin olive oil – up to 1.5 tablespoons (20 ml) per day – to a 16% lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
8. Improved blood sugar levels. In one small study, people who took 20 mg of concentrated oleuropein, a compound in extra virgin olive oil, experienced a 14% lower increase in blood sugar after a meal than people who took a placebo.
9. Relief of constipation. According to some small studies, taking just 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of extra virgin olive oil daily can treat constipation.
10. Delayed progression of osteoarthritis. Animal studies have found that extra virgin olive oil and its compounds can fight osteoarthritis by preventing damage to cartilage, the protective padding in the joints.
Keep in mind that more research is needed.
Early research suggests that extra virgin olive oil and its compounds may help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, improve blood sugar levels, relieve constipation, and fight osteoarthritis.
11. Extra Virgin Olive Oil Cold Pressed Can Benefit Hair, Skin and Nails
Although there is limited scientific evidence to support the topical application of extra virgin olive oil, it is a common ingredient in many soaps, body washes, and lotions.
Some popular cosmetic uses for extra virgin olive oil include:
· Hair treatment. Use 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 ml) of extra virgin olive oil to treat split ends, or gently massage it into your scalp to relieve dryness. Then shampoo and rinse thoroughly.
· Moisturizer. To moisturize your skin, apply a thin layer after showering or mix a small amount into your regular lotion before use. You may need to dab excess oil with a towel.
· Cuticle conditioner. Massage a drop of olive oil into each fingertip to treat cracked, cracked or dry cuticles.
Since low-quality olive oils can contain potential skin irritants, it's best to stick to virgin and virgin olive oil, both of which are cold-pressed.
People with sensitive skin should exercise caution as olive oil has been shown to additionally irritate dry skin, especially in infants and children.
Although extra virgin olive oil can be an effective moisturizer for hair, skin and nails, there is little scientific evidence to support this use. In addition, it may be unsuitable for people with sensitive skin.
12. Easily Add Extra Virgin
Olive Oil to Your Diet
Extra virgin olive oil is not only a great cooking oil for sautéing, frying and baking, but also an ideal ingredient in salad dressings, sauces and marinades.
Replacing saturated fat with extra virgin olive oil can be especially beneficial to your health. Consider these simple food swaps:
When cooking, replace butter, shortening, lard or bacon fat with cold-pressed olive oil.
Instead of buying creamy salad dressings, try those with extra virgin olive oil – or make your own.
Opt for sauces based on extra virgin olive oil, such as pesto, instead of cream- or cheese-based sauces.
For a vegetable dip, try hummus made from olive oil instead of blue cheese or ranch dressing.
nstead of brushing your bread with butter, dip it in cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil and spices.
Extra virgin olive oil is also suitable for deep-frying, but you should limit this cooking method due to the excess calories it provides.
In addition, extra virgin olive oil is still high in calories. When monitoring your calorie intake, make sure you use this fat within your daily allocation to avoid unwanted weight gain.
Extra virgin olive oil is a heart-healthy fat for daily cooking and is particularly suitable for dressings, sauces and dips.
The end result
Extra virgin olive oil can contain more nutrients than heat-treated olive oil.
It's packed with healthy fats, vitamins E and K, and several antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. These nutrients, in addition to other benefits, can promote brain and heart health.
You can benefit most from using extra virgin olive oil instead of other fats such as lard, butter or margarine.