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If you love gourmet cooking, you are bound to come across recipes that call for olive oil and cannot be made with any substitutes. Made up with mostly monosaturated oils, olive oil is a versatile ingredient which can be used as a cooking medium, used for dressing salads or for cosmetic purposes.
Olive oil is available is many variants and all variants serve different purposes. Extra virgin olive oil is made from the first pressing of finest quality olives. This oil has a distinct taste and aroma and is great for drizzling over salads and breads. However, it cannot be used as a cooking medium because of its low smoking point. Olive pomace oil on the other hand acts as an excellent cooking medium.
Olive Oil has many benefits; if figures can be considered an indication, then the fact that people from Mediterranean region, where olive oil consumption is the highest, have longer life expectancy than the rest of the world!
Let’s take a look at the health benefits of Olive Oil:
Fats are an essential part of balanced diet and removing fats completely from the diet is not advisable. However, the key to healthy eating is choosing fats which have higher percentage of good cholesterol as opposed to bad cholesterol. Olive oil is a good source of monosaturated fatty acids which decrease bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. This reduces the risk of heart diseases and prevent choking of arteries. Studies have proven that people who consume olive oil as a cooking medium are at a lower risk of hypertension, stroke and high cholesterol.
Olive oil also contains antioxidants which neutralize free radicals naturally produced by the body and free radicals which enter the body due to pollution, smoking and pesticides. These free radicals, if not flushed out, can act as carcinogens.
According to various studies, consumption of trans fats is directly proportional to risk of depression. Since olive oil primarily consists of monosaturated fats, it cuts down on the number of trans fats and prevents depression.
Olive oil is rich in antioxidants which promote healthy cell reproduction and promote hair growth. These antioxidants can also prevent premature ageing and delay appearance of wrinkles.
Olive oil is also an excellent moisturizer and since it has a high percentage of oleic acid, it can penetrate the skin and hair better than commercially manufactured products.
Olive oil contains polyphenols which have anti-inflammatory properties. Consuming just 2-3 teaspoons if olive oil in a day can cure inflammatory diseases in any part of the body.
Cancer in simple terms in uncontrolled cell division in the body. Risk of cancer is greatly increased by oxidation of free radicals in the body. Olive oil contains antioxidants which help in flushing out these free radicals from the body. Oleic acid, which is one of the main components of olive oil has been found to be resistant to oxidation as well.
Extra virgin olive oil has been found to be especially effective in prevention of breast cancer.
Obesity plays a major factor in development of type 2 diabetes and diet control is one of the easiest ways to control diabetes. It has been seen that people who consume olive oil are at a lower risk of diabetes because it reduces bad cholesterol, controls glucose and decreases triglyceride levels in the body. This oil contains many active compounds like lignans and polyphenols which directly target the cancer causing mutations, reduce damage caused by oxidation and help prevent tumors.
Even though it has many health benefits, olive oil is still a form of fat and excess fat is never good for the body. Therefore, the key to gain its benefits is to use it in moderation and substitute polysaturated fats with olive oil.
For more information on benefits of olive oil, Click Here.
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