Olive oil is an important part of the Mediterranean diet. It is rich in antioxidants. The main fat it contains is monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which experts consider a healthy fat.
The antioxidants in olive oil can help protect the body from cell damage, which can lead to a number of health problems and diseases. Extra virgin olive oil has a bitter taste but contains more antioxidants than other types because it is the least processed.
In this article, you will learn more about the health benefits of olive oil and find some ideas for its use.
What is olive oil?
Olive oil comes from olives, the fruits of the olive tree. Olives are a traditional Mediterranean crop. People make olive oil by pressing whole olives.
People use olive oil for cooking, cosmetics, medicine, soaps and as fuel for traditional lamps. Olive oil originally comes from the Mediterranean, but is now popular all over the world.
In the diet, people preserve olives in olive oil or salt water. They eat them whole or chopped and added to pizzas and other dishes.
You can use olive oil as a dip for bread, for drizzling pasta, for cooking or as a salad dressing. Some people consume it spoonfully for medicinal purposes.
Olive Oil Performances
Many studies have looked at the health benefits of olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil, the best oil available, is rich in antioxidants that help prevent cell damage from molecules called free radicals.
Free radicals are substances that the body produces during metabolism and other processes. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals.
When too many free radicals accumulate, they can cause oxidative stress. This can lead to cell damage and play a role in the development of certain diseases, including certain cancers.
Olive oil and the cardiovascular system
Olive oil is the main source of fat in the Mediterranean diet. People who eat this diet seem to have a higher life expectancy, including a lower chance of dying from cardiovascular disease, compared to people who follow other diets. Some experts call it "the standard in preventive medicine."
A 2018 study compared the number of cardiovascular events in people who followed a Mediterranean diet, either with olive oil or nuts, or a low-fat diet.
People who ate the Mediterranean diet, whether with olive oil or nuts, had a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease than people on low-fat diets.
According to the authors of a 2018 review, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority recommend consuming about 20 grams (g) or two tablespoons (tsp) of extra virgin olive oil each day to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and inflammation.
The results of a 2017 study suggest that the polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil may protect against cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, stroke, brain dysfunction and cancer. Polyphenols are a type of antioxidant.
Olive Oil and Metabolic syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is a condition characterized by a group of risk factors that increase the risk of disease, including obesity, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar levels.
The authors of a 2019 meta-analysis concluded that olive oil in a Mediterranean diet could improve the characteristics of metabolic syndrome such as inflammation, blood sugar, triglycerides (fats in the blood), and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or "poor." Cholesterol. In contrast, it appears to increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol.
Depression risk and olive oil
In 2013, a rodent study suggested that ingredients in extra virgin olive oil help protect the nervous system and could be useful for treating depression and anxiety.
Two years earlier, scientists had found evidence that people who ate trans fats, an unhealthy fat found in fast food and pre-made baked goods, were more likely to suffer from depression than those who consumed unsaturated fats such as olive oil.
Olive oil and cancer risk
Some studies suggest that substances in olive oil may help reduce the risk of breast cancer, but not all results confirm this.
According to a study published in 2019, olive oil contains substances that may help prevent colon cancer. Laboratory tests have found evidence that antioxidants in olive oil may help protect the body from inflammation, oxidative damage, and epigenetic changes.
Can diet affect a person's risk of cancer?
Diet is just one of the lifestyle factors that affect cancer risk. Smoking, obesity, alcohol, sun exposure, and physical activity are also important.
Alzheimer's disease and Olive Oil
In 2016, some scientists suggested that the inclusion of extra virgin olive oil in the diet could help prevent Alzheimer's disease. This may be due to its protective effect on the blood vessels in the brain.
Authors of a mouse study published in 2019 suggested that consuming oleocanthal-rich extra virgin olive oil could help slow or stop the progression of Alzheimer's. Oleocanthal is a phenolic compound found in extra virgin olive oil.
Olive oil and the liver
A 2018 review of laboratory studies found that molecules in extra virgin olive oil may help prevent or repair liver damage.
The oil's MUFAs, which are mainly oleic acid, and their phenolic compounds appear to help prevent inflammation, oxidative stress, insulin resistance, and other changes that can lead to liver damage.
Olive oil and inflammatory bowel disease
Chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) causes inflammation of the digestive tract. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease are types of IBD.
A 2019 review found that phenols in olive oil can help boost gut immunity and health by altering the microbes in the gut. This could be useful for people with colitis and other types of IBD. The authors noted that further human studies are needed to confirm these findings.
Olive Oil Nutrition
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 1 tbsp or 13.5 grams (g) of olive oil provides:
13.5 g fat, of which 1.86 g saturated
1.9 milligrams (mg) of vitamin E
8.13 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin K
It also contains traces of calcium and potassium, as well as polyphenols, tocopherols, phytosterols, squalene and terpenic acids from trusted sources and other antioxidants.
Olive Oil Nutrition Tips
When buying olive oil, it is best to choose an extra virgin olive oil, as it is less processed and more likely to retain its antioxidant content. Extra virgin olive oil has a high smoke point of 191°C (376°F), so it can be safely used for most cooking methods.
Tips for use
· Tips for using olive oil include:
· Drizzle it on a salad or add it to a salad dressing
· drizzle on freshly baked bread when baking bread
· Use it instead of other fats when frying or sautéing
Try the following recipes:
· Crispy flatbread with rosemary and olive oil
· Spaghetti with olive oil, chili and garlic
· Poor man's potatoes
Frying in olive oil
According to a review published in 2017, frying foods in olive oil can help maintain and even improve nutritional value. That's because the food absorbs antioxidants that are transferred from the oil.
I once heard that heating olive oil changes its chemical composition and makes it toxic. Is that true?
This is a common misconception. Research has shown that extra virgin olive oil has a relatively high smoke point of 376°F (191°C) and can be safely used for most cooking methods, including frying.
However, when people fry in olive oil for a long time, it can lead to the breakdown of fats and the formation of toxic compounds, including acrolein. Acrolein is a highly reactive, toxic compound that can cause cell damage if swallowed. So as long as you use olive oil for frying or frying and not for longer frying methods, it is perfectly healthy.
Some research has shown that frying products such as tomatoes, onions and garlic in olive oil improves the bioavailability of protective plant compounds such as carotenoids and polyphenol antioxidants. Therefore, cooking with olive oil can improve the nutritional value of your recipe.