Almost everybody has a jar of olive oil in their pantry. It’s the first item amateur and professional chefs grab to sauté, brown, fry, or even grill almost every meal. It’s just always in the kitchen, like salt and pepper. But while we always cook with it, we may not realize it is helping keep us healthy in many ways.
Healthcare professionals such as cardiologists and dieticians, along with most well-known diet plans, recommend including about two teaspoons of olive in the diet every day.In adition to bolstering the immune system and helping to protect the body against viruses, olive oil is also effective in fighting many common Western diseases.
Hypertension: A diet high in unsaturated fatty acids reduces blood pressure compared to a diet rich in saturated fats. Monounsaturated fatty acids (those in olive oil) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (those in fish and some vegetables) lower blood pressure. The beneficial effect in extra virgin olive oil is attributed to polyphenols. It contains nitric acid which prevents narrowing of blood vessels, improving blood flow.
Cancer: Studies suggest that olive oil exerts a protective effect against certain malignant tumors (i.e. breast, prostate, endometrium, digestive tract). Some studies have shown that olive oil reduces the risk of breast cancer. Eating a diet including olive oil as the only fat could lower cancer incidence.
Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome: With its polyphenols and squalene components olive oil reduces the high level of inflammatory activity present in both diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Olive oil reduces the LDL (“bad” cholesterol) lipid oxidation, and high blood pressure. It facilitates glycemic control by leaving “less room” for carbohydrates (particularly “simple sugars”) that cause insulin spikes and premature hunger attacks.
Obesity: Although high in calories, olive oil helps reduce levels of obesity by promoting the body systems to work more efficiently. It is one component included in many high profile diet plans, along with changing life style habits.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: People with diets high in olive oil are less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, although reasons are not clear.
Osteoporosis: Consumption of olive oil appears to improve bone mineralization and calcification. It helps calcium absorption and so plays an important role in aiding sufferers of and in preventing osteoporosis.
Alzheimer’s disease: Inflammation and free radicals damage brain cells and impair synaptic function, contributing to neurodegeneration and brain cell loss that characterizes Alzheimer’s disease. The squalene content of olive oil (along with its other antioxidants) had neuroprotectant effects and does not allow oxidation of its monounsaturated fatty acids. Oleocanthal, has been shown to slow Alzheimer’s progression.
Aging and Longevity: Free radicals attack and damage cells. Free radical DNA is found in cell nuclei and in cell mitochondria. It is thought that olive oil’s antioxidant effects inhibit peroxidation and reduce mitochondrial DNA damage, preserving vitality and youthfulness. The oleocanthal component of olive oil significantly contributes to olive oil’s anti-aging effects.
Cholesterol Reduction: Cholesterol is a fat-like substance in the body. Olive oil helps remove LDL (bad) cholesterol. It contains polyphenols (antioxidants) that prevent LDL from sticking to artery walls and forming plaques. Buildup of plaque can lead to heart attack and stroke.
Olive oil comes from the fruit of the olive tree, a plant. It is naturally sodium free.
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