Traditionally, a lot of Indian cooking is done with mustard oil, coconut oil, ghee etc. While there is not a long history of its usage in India, olive oil has been used as edible oil in many European countries. It forms an essential and ubiquitous part of the typical Mediterranean diet and followers of this diet have extolled the virtues of olive oil for ages. What helps seal olive oil as an incredibly healthy edible oil is the fact that people following the Mediterranean diet usually rank as one of the healthiest populations in the world. So maybe it is time for the Indian population as well to try out olive oil, considering that the risk of heart diseases and high cholesterol is rampant in our country and a lot of it has to do with the amount of unhealthy fats we consume.
What is extra virgin olive oil?
Unfortunately, not every bottle of olive oil on the market is as healthy as the manufacturers claim. Some lower quality versions of olive oil are extracted using chemicals that can be harmful and diminish the health benefits of the olives, while some manufacturers dilute and adulterate the olive oil with other kinds of cheaper oils to reduce their costs of production. All such products should be steered clear of as they won’t provide you with a lot of benefits and might actually cause some harm.
Consequently, the only type of olive oil which guarantees a great bunch of health benefits is Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It is the only version of olive oil manufactured in a completely organic, chemical-free manner and allows all the magic of olives to be retained in the oil. Unlike other kinds of olive oils that are either diluted or extracted with the help of solvents, extra virgin olive oil is obtained by pressing the highest quality olives and a rigorous testing and standardizing process is applied to it to ensure high grade output.
What are some health benefits of olive oil?
Now that olive oil is exported all across the world and is available easily in India as well, it is possible for us to experience the numerous ways it can improve our health. A large number of research studies have been conducted on this subject and they all agree that olive oil can help in preventing and controlling a variety of diseases –
1. Cardiovascular diseases
For a long time, researchers have wondered the reasons for low cardiovascular diseases in the Mediterranean region. It turns out that olive oil actually plays an important role in lowering the risk of heart diseases due to its numerous useful constituents.
Most heart problems, including the gradual blocking of arteries have their roots in two problems – one, oxidative stress (presence of highly reactive oxygen-rich molecules) and the second, low-level inflammation. As it turns out, olive oil can combat both of these unpleasant problems as it is an extremely rich source of anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients.
In addition to preventing the blocking of arteries, olive oil also reduces the risk of strokes, lowers blood pressure, hampers unwanted blood clotting and generally improves the condition of blood vessels in the body.
Most types of cancer develop in the body due to oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. The polyphenols present in olive oil have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and thus lowers the risk of cells turning into malignant tumours.
Olive oil also protects the DNA, increases anti-oxidant defence system in cells and helps to control certain kinds of cancers that are already developed.
3. Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s is an extremely common neuro-degenerative disease that causes dementia in the patient. One of the leading causes of Alzheimer’s is the build-up of protein tangles called beta amyloid in the neurons. Oleocanthal is a natural phenolic compound that is found in olive oil and studies have shown that this compound can help in the removal of beta amyloid plaques from the neurons. This greatly reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s and other neuro-degenerative diseases.
What we eat not only affects us physically, but also psychologically. Studies have indicated a relationship between high consumption of trans-fats (present in fast foods and processed foods) and depression. Since olive oil is a rich source of mono-unsaturated fats, it can help keep depression at bay.
Olive oil is one of the healthiest edible oils in the world and its range of benefits is incredibly vast and well-proven. It must be remembered that olive oil is not a magic pill that will instantly heal everything; it must be coupled with a healthy diet and stable lifestyle to show its true effects!
For more details about extra virgin olive oil, click here.