Olive oil is world renowned for its health benefits. The Mediterranean diet has olive oil as one of its centerpieces, and those countries where people eat a traditional Mediterranean diet, such as Greece and Italy, enjoy the benefits of one of the longest life spans and lowest cancer rates in the world. Over the last couple of decades, the health benefits of olive oil have started to gain traction in the American culinary arena.
How does olive oil benefit health?
Although most people today have a vague notion that olive oil is good for them, many people don’t understand exactly why. For instance, olive oil is almost pure fat, so how can it really be good for you since we are taught that we should lower our intake of fats to reduce our risk or cardiovascular disease. The fact is that our body needs fat as it is one of the three main components of food, along with protein and carbohydrates.
But what we need to understand is that there are different kinds of fat, some of which are healthy and some of which are not. So how do we know which are healthy and which are not? The most unhealthy fats are called saturated fats. They come mostly from animal sources, such as pork and beef. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature. This is the kind of fat that will increase your LDL cholesterol which is the kind that is linked to heart disease.
The good kind of fat is monounsaturated fat and this is the kind that increases your HDL cholesterol which is good for you. HDL cholesterol “scrubs” the lining of your blood vessels and helps to keep them from getting blocked. Monounsaturated fat comes mainly from vegetable sources such as olive oil, sunflower oil, etc.So we need to eat healthy monounsaturated fats and avoid animal fats as much as possible. Can you start to see the health benefits of olive oil now?
Extra virgin olive oil has the most health benefits
Extra virgin olive oil is also one of the only vegetable oils that can be purchased and consumed in its unadulterated, original form. It is not processed in any way during the extraction process. No heat or chemicals are used. This means that all of the healthy enzymes that are present in the original olive are preserved and not degraded during the manufacturing process. These enzymes in olive oil help to eliminate so called free radicals in our body, lowering our risk for cancer.
Additional benefits of olive oil
Olive oil is also good for the skin and hair. Most people will notice that their hair and skin has a healthier sheen after several weeks of olive oil consumption. In fact, many people apply olive oil directly to the skin and hair as a remedy, and many shampoos and soaps include olive oil as an ingredient for this very reason.
The olive oil benefits don’t stop there. Olive oil will help satiate your appetite, as well. You probably have noticed that when you eat a meal that is higher in fats and proteins, that you stay full longer and don’t get hungry as quick. This is because fats have more calories per gram than proteins and carbohydrates. If you have olive oil with your meals you will not only improve your health, but you will stay satiated for longer and not need to eat again as soon.
Many people get in the habit of taking a teaspoon of olive oil in the morning with a glass of warm water. This is good to get your liver started and get the metabolism going. I personally prefer to mix my olive oil in with my meals. I love the taste and texture of a good extra virgin olive oil.
As you can see, the olive oil benefits are numerous and wide ranging. Try to get yourself in to the habit of eating it every day. Try to start replacing your animal fats with olive oil and you will start seeing benefits in your health in a matter of a few weeks.
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