Benefits of Olive Oil
Every day we are bombarded with advertisements of products that promise if we only take this little pill or drink this special concoction, we will enjoy good health. What few people know is that there is a product in their pantry that can offer all these health benefits, with the scientific evidence to back it up. So what is this common pantry item? It's olive oil.
Olive oil is an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids, commonly referred to as MUFAs. Research has shown that monounsaturated fatty acids can lower low density lipoprotein (LDL), the so-called bad cholesterol. There is also evidence that it may increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the good cholesterol.
Another one of the benefits of olive oil is its high concentration of antioxidants. Antioxidants help slow down and prevent the oxidation of cells. By slowing down oxidation, it reduces the formation of free radicals, which damage cells.
An article published in the April 2002 issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that olive oil was effective in as little as a week. When participants were given 25 ml, or approximately 2 tablespoons, per day of olive oil for one week, the researchers noted a reduction in LDL while levels of antioxidants increased.
Olive oil has digestive benefits as well. It initiates the release of pancreatic hormones and bile. This lowers the occurrence of gall stones. It also has protective benefits, helping to prevent both gastritis, a condition of stomach inflammation, and ulcers.
According to a study published in 2000 in Gut, there is a relationship between olive oil and colon cancer rates. Researchers supplemented rats with either olive oil or safflower oil. They found that the rats supplemented with olive oil had lower rates of colon cancer.
There are other cancer-related benefits of olive oil. In Annals of Oncology in January 2005, researchers noted that olive oil contains a MUFA called oleic acid. This compound helps lower the effect of a specific gene, oncogene, that converts healthy cells to cancerous ones. The researchers indicated that oleic acid, when used in combination with drug therapy, made the cancer cells, especially those that are aggressive and typically resistant to treatment, self-destruct.
Diabetics can benefit from olive oil as well. One study found that when diabetics, or those at risk of diabetes, ate a low-fat, high carbohydrate diet supplemented with olive oil, blood sugar levels were controlled better. As it also helps reduce triglyceride levels, it reduces the risk of heart disease, which is common with diabetics.
Olive oil has anti-inflammatory benefits. The body converts the healthy fats in the oil to natural anti-inflammatory. This can help reduce arthritis and asthma. Olive oil has also been linked to lower rates of osteoporosis and dementia.
One of the most surprising benefits of olive oil is its effects on weight loss. In September 2003, researchers published a weight loss study in the British Journal of Nutrition. When dieters substituted olive oil for saturated fats in their diet, they lost weight and had a lower body mass index (BMI) than those that ate saturated fats. This was regardless of whether the dieters increased physical activity.
With health benefits and delicious flavor, you have nothing to lose with olive oil.