Olive oil is one of nature’s great gifts that can keep us healthy, strong, and youthful. A basic ingredient in the diets of Mediterranean countries, it is fast becoming the world’s favorite oil. Olive oil is made by crushing olives and extracting their oil, and comes in different forms and has many uses. It is a powerful nutritional weapon against coronary heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and more. Moreover, thanks to its anti-aging and protective compounds, olive oil has great benefits for our skin and hair as well.
Types of olive oil
- Extra virgin olive oil: This oil comes out from the first press of the best ripe olives. It is pressed by mechanical means, without heat or chemicals (cold pressed). It has a superior taste, and the lowest acid content of all the varieties of olive oil (less than 0.8 percent). Extra virgin olive oil is richest in antioxidants and hence in health benefits.
- Virgin olive oil: This is the next grade of olive oil. Virgin olive oil is also cold pressed, and tastes almost exactly like extra virgin olive oil but it has a higher acid content (not higher than 1.5 percent).
- Pure olive oil: This oil is a blend of refined and virgin olive oils. It has no more than 2 percent acidity, and is inexpensive but lacks a strong flavor.
Health benefits of olive oil
Olive oil’s healing properties are largely due to its rich content of oleic acid, which is a monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA). It also has other valuable bioactive compounds, such as antioxidants like tocopherols, phenols, and squalene. Together, all these elements protect against a number of life-threatening illnesses like coronary heart disease, hypertension, infectious diseases, cancers of the breast, colon, skin, and prostate, and several degenerative conditions. Here are three of the main health benefits:
Prevents cardiovascular diseases
A study published in the Pharmacological Research journal, found that people who regularly consume olive oil are much less likely to develop cardiovascular diseases, including hyperlipidemia (high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels), hypertension (high blood pressure), and stroke. Extra virgin olive oil controls the low-density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol levels and increases the “good” high-density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol levels. Olive oil has a high content of oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid, which reduces the risk of coronary heart disease.
Adding olive oil in your diet can keep your blood sugar under control. Monounsaturated fats in olive oil can help lower blood sugar levels. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, a diet rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, like the one that contains olive oil, can help prevent diabetes. Studies show that diabetics who eat a diet rich in monounsaturated fat have lower blood sugar levels than those who simply eat a low-fat diet.
Olive oil is known to be easy on the digestive system. It benefits the gastrointestinal tract and colon. Olive oil inhibits bacterial growth and works as a protective shield for those suffering from ulcers and other gastritis issues. It accelerates the secretion of bile and pancreatic hormones, and also lowers the chances of gallstone formation. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats. This helps in increasing mobility so that food can move smoothly through the colon, which helps in speeding up bowel movements and prevents constipation.
Skin benefits of olive oil
Olive oil contains strong antioxidants such as Vitamin E and polyphenols, that help repair and renew skin that has been damaged by overexposure to sun and environmental pollution. Moreover, these antioxidants have the ability to stimulate cells and return skin to a firmer, smoother, and healthier state. The anti-inflammatory properties of olive oil are perfect for even those with sensitive skin. Applying olive oil benefits skin in the following ways:
- Improves skin health
- Has anti-aging properties
- Moisturizes skin
- Helps remove make-up
- Treats sunburns
- Moisturizes lips
- Moisturizes rough and dry feet
- Reduces stretch marks
- Lightens acne scars
- Softens wrinkles
Hair benefits of olive oil
Olive oil is rich in polyphenols with anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, that promote healthier and manageable hair. Moreover, the vitamin E and fats in olive oil work wonders for your hair too. Benefits of olive oil for hair are:
- Keeps hair healthy
- Moisturizes dry hair
- Promotes hair growth
- Prevents premature gray hair
- Useful as a pre-shampoo hair treatment
- Reduces spilt ends and hair damage
- Fights dandruff
Olive oil diet = Better hair, healthy skin and strong hair!