Health Benefits of Olive Oil

Olive oil is rich in Monosaturated fatty acid; in fact, it is one of the three main components of the Mediterranean diet, the other two are grapes and wheat.

It is commonly grown in Spain, Italy, and Greece; the people from this region have considerably lower risks of stroke, heart disease, and high pressure when compared with the North Americans.

The health benefits of olive oil include treatment of diabetes, heart problems, arthritis, weight loss and due to its health benefits olive oil also helps in improving body metabolism, digestion and reduces aging.

Olive oil is made up of 73% of Monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFAs), recent studies haveindicated that olive oil is linked with the reduction of risk of coronary heart disease.

One tablespoon of olive (13.5g) contains 119 calories;the Food and Drug Administration (FAO) recommendsthat 2 tablespoons of olive oil should be taken to avoid unnecessary weight gain.

What is Olive Oil?

Olive oil is one of the most important essential oil, the oil is extracted from the fruit of the Olivetree (Olea europaea) mainly found in the Mediterranean region. The olive oil is extracted by pressing the whole olive fruit.

The oil is usedmainly for cooking, soap, cosmetics, and medicine. Mediterranean cuisine is not complete without olive oil.  It has also been used as fuel for traditional oil lamps and for religious purpose, especially in Judaism and Christianity.

Health Benefits of Olive Oil

There is numerous health benefits of olive oil, some of them are listed below:

Lower Cholesterol level

Olive oil is the main source of fat in the Mediterranean regions. The region has lower death rates from heartproblem when compare to the rest of the world. LDL cholesterol increases the risk of heart-relatedproblem. Olive oil contains 75% of Monounsaturated fatty acid and minimum amount of saturated fatty acid and polyunsaturated fatty acid. The high presence of monounsaturated fatty acid helps in the control of blood cholesterol in the body.

The high presenceof Monosaturated fatty acid reduce the effect of LDL cholesterol in the body and also increase the HDL level.

Prevent Strokes

Olive oil is useful in preventing strokes, especially among the aged people. Stroke is caused when the blood vessel connecting to the brain is clotted, which can lead to brain damage and eventually leadto death.
Olive oil prevents stroke by diluting the already formed clots and also prevent the forming of clotin the blood vessels.

Weight Loss

Recent studies suggest that it is impossible to gain weight when consuming monounsaturated fatty acid.  When next that you are considering losing weight or you do not want to gain excess weight, you can start by adding olive oil into your food and see the result.

Prevent Breast Cancer

Recent studies have shown that hydroxytyrosolfound in olive oil helps to prevent breast cancer in women. Olive oil prevents DNA change, increase tumor death of the cancerouscell.

Lower Hypertension

Recent research studies havefound that olive lowers the risk of hypertension, it is due to the high presence of monounsaturated fatty acid.
Patient with high blood pressure can replace vegetable oil with extra virgin olive oil in their diet. Extravirgin olive oil contains antioxidantcalled polyphenols which help in the drop of blood pressure.

Prevent Diabetes

Olive oil contains zero carbohydrates and sugar, including it in your diet will help in controlling your blood sugar.
Extra virgin oil has been proven to reduce the LDL cholesterol and blood sugar when included in your meal. It is most effective in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

Prevent Alzheimer

According to ScientificAmerican article about olive oil, Contrary to widely view that the presence of monounsaturated fatty acid help in preventing Alzheimer, Scientist discovered oleocanthal, a naturally occurring compound found in olive oil interferes with the formation of characteristic neurofibrillary tangles and beta-amyloid plaques both which plays critical roles in the devastation of Alzheimer.

Reduce the risk of coronary health disease.

Consuming 2 tablespoonsof olive oil a day reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, the presence of Monosaturated fatty acid in olive oil lower the LDL cholesterol in the body. Due to its high-calorie content, you can replace the saturated oil that you consume with olive oil.

Treat Depression

One of the most uniquehealth benefits of olive oil is the treatment of depression, this is because ofolive oil increase in the secretion of serotonin in the brain similar to the work of antidepressant.

Prevents Inflammation and Infection

Olive oil is effective in inhibiting the growth of pathogens like bacteria, virus, and fungi and relieves inflammation and pain; this is because of the presence of phenol which has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties.

Grade of Olive Oil

There are two main ways that are used to grade olive oil; they are the IOC standards and US standards.

IOC Standard

If you are in countries that adhere to the International Olive Council (IOC) standard and you are wondering the meaning of different types of oil, there are description are given below:

Extra-virgin olive oil: This is a type of edible virgin oil, which free acidity content is no more than 0.8%; no additives are added to this oil. The total production of extra-virgin oil in many production countries account for less than 10% of the total olive oil production.

Virgin olive oil: This is a type of olive oil that is produced mechanical or physical means, the oil contains less than 2grams of free acidity content per 100 grams. Addition of additives or alteration with the oil is not allowed. 

Refined olive oil: This is obtained from by virgin oil by refining methods without alteration with the initial glyceridic structure. It has free acidity content of not more than 0.3 grams per 100 grams.

Olive oil: This is made by blending refined olive oil and virgin olive oil. The free acidity content is not more than 1gram per 100 gram.

US Standard

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released their grades for olive oil in 1948 for the following categories:
US Grade A or US Fancy
US Grade B or US Choice
US Grade C or US Standard
US Grade D or Substandard

But on October 25,2010, the USDA has released a new grade for olive oil which closely follows the IOC standard.

US Extra Virgin Olive Oil: This is for oil its free acidity content is not more than 0.8% with excellent oil flavor and odor.

US Virgin Olive Oil: Oil that is extracted using mechanical or physical mean with free acidity content of not more than 2 gram per 100 gram.

US Virgin Olive Oil not suitable for consumption: this is a virgin oil with poor flavor and odor, it must be further refined before humancan consume it.

US Olive oil: This is made by blending virgin olive oil with refined olive oil.

US Refined Olive Oil: This is oil made from refined olive oil with some restriction on processing. 

How to Buy Olive Oil

Due to the high increase of adulterated olive oil in the market, you should try the following before buying:
 Check the label of the olive oil to check if it genuine or not,
Buy only extra-virgin olive oil,
Look out for the harvest date,
Buy small quantity of olive oil at once to avoid wasting your money,
Olive oil imported to the country travel several kilometers before you buy it and the quality is difficult to ascertain. You can buy localproduced olive oil to give you a rest of mind.
Why not give olive oil a try and see the result for yourself. And for those using olive oil, are you aware of the amazing health benefits of olive oil before? What made you choose olive oil? And how is your experience since you switch to olive oil? You can share your experience and question in the comment section.

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