The Hearty Soul
If you’ve been following the health food crazes, you’re probably familiar with the widespread praise for olive oil. Even more, I’m sure you’re using it in your cooking already. But do you know what makes olive oil such a widely acclaimed health-boosting ingredient?
About a decade ago, the North American Olive Oil Association filed a petition to allow the posting of health claims on food labels. The claim: regularly consuming 2 tablespoons of olive oil will reduce your risk of heart disease! This almost unbelievable claim was investigated by the FDA and approved.
Unlike many other fats used in cooking like butter and sunflower oil, about 75% of the fat content of olive oil is derived from monounsaturated fats. To know how monounsaturated fats work on the body, you should first know about the two types of cholesterol. There are two types of cholesterol – High-density lipoproteins (HDL) and low-density lipoproteins (LDL). HDL is often referred to as the “good” cholesterol as it is responsible for removing LDL from your body. Ideally, you want to keep these two levels at a near balanced ratio.
The FDA investigation found that replacing saturated fats with monounsaturated fatty acids reduced the levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoproteins (LDL). By using more monounsaturated fats, you make it easier on your body to reach the ideal balance in your cholesterol levels. But not just that, the unique composition of olive oil slows the digestive process which lets your body prevent spikes in your blood sugar.
That’s not all though! There are even more reasons to be taking 2 tablespoons of olive oil daily.
Olive oil is protective against heart disease and stroke
As the leading cause of death globally, finding ways to reduce our chances of heart disease are a major priority in the health community. Consuming the monounsaturated fats of olive oil prevents heart disease and stroke by keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level.
Olive oil is a fat that promotes weight loss
Because of olive oil’s effects on your cholesterol, it’s much easier for you to lose weight when combined with regular exercise and a balanced diet.
Olive oil improves cognitive function
A large-scale study in France found that intensive use of olive oil lead to immense improvements in visual memory and verbal fluency among older adults.
Olive oil is loaded with antioxidants
When it comes to cooking fats and oils, very few can make the claim that they’re rich in antioxidants. Well, except for olive oil! Olive oil is rich in antioxidants that fight disease and cancer causing free radicals.
Olive oil relieves constipation
Olive oil helps the passage of stool through the digestive system. At the same time, olive oil strengthens your digestive system against sickness.
Olive oil can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes
Taking at least two tablespoons of olive oil daily alongside a balanced diet has been found to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes in pre-diabetics (people likely to become diabetic).
Olive oil’s polyphenols reduce your risk of certain cancers
It has been long known that people who regularly eat a Mediterranean diet including olive oil are less likely to develop certain cancers. This has been linked to the antioxidants and monounsaturated fats found in olive oil.
Olive oil promotes healthy bones
Olive oil has been found to promote the absorption of calcium into the body. In a lab study conducted on animals, it was found that olive oil encouraged bone formation in rats. This property is particularly helpful for people who suffer from osteoporosis.
Olive oil has unique anti-inflammatory polyphenols
Normally fats are a source of inflammation, and so this sets olive oil apart from the rest. Olive oil’s polyphenols have a similar anti-inflammatory effect as ibuprofen (one of the most used anti-inflammatory drugs). One study found that the polyphenols in olive oil can slow down genes and proteins that lead to inflammation.
Olive oil can help treat Rheumatoid Arthritis
The regular consumption of olive oil has been shown to improve the pain and swelling experienced by people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. When taken in combination with omega-3 rich fish oil, olive oil has been found to be a potent treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.
With potent effects like these, olive oil is more than just a craze. It’s established itself as one of the most important superfoods for global health!