The Mediterranean population has the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease and longest life expectancy. A diet that is up to 40% fat is what makes these people, as well as other Mediterranean residents, so happy.
Monounsaturated Olive Oil makes up the majority of this fat, and the health benefits of this oil are continuing to pile up. Let's take a look at three of the most well-known benefits of Olive Oil.
Olive oil may be able to reverse Alzheimer's disease
Studies have shown that people who eat a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil and other healthy foods are less likely to develop dementia.
A recent study also found that laboratory mice with Alzheimer's disease generally ate regular chow that was enriched in Extra Virgin Olive Oil. This made them more successful on memory and learning tests.
Their brains were also less likely to develop beta-amyloid plaques or neurofibrillary knots, which are indicators of Alzheimer's disease.
Olive oil can help lower blood pressure
A study in Italy found that patients with mild-to-moderate hypertension saw a significant drop in blood pressure when they ate extra-virgin olive oils. In some cases, medication was not necessary.
Participants with moderately high blood pressure (less that 165/104mm Hg) who were taking antihypertensive medication were also included in the study. Participants were given either extra virgin olive oil or sunflower oil as a daily meal. Six months later, they were switched to the other diet.
Patients were able to reduce their medication requirements by 48 percent with the Olive Oil Diet.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil also contains powerful antioxidants. These antioxidants protect LDL cholesterol against free radical damage. They also keep the arteries clean and free of plaque buildup. This has positive effects on blood sugar.
Olive oil helps to reduce stroke risk
Researchers did a study to see if high consumption of olive oil, both as a cooking oil or as a dressing for salads, was associated with a lower risk of stroke. Researchers found that people who consumed Olive Oil had a 41% lower chance of suffering a stroke than those who did not consume it.
A second evaluation showed that people with high blood levels of oleic acids (a type of fat found in olive oil) were at a greater risk than those who had lower levels. This was compared to the risk of people with low levels.
This is a very sensible decision. This makes perfect sense. Olive polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants, prevent LDL cholesterol from oxidation and help to stave off atherosclerosis.
Research suggests that Olive Oil helps to prevent platelets from sticking together in the blood, which can reduce the risk of a stroke.
How to Get the Most Out Of Olive Oil's Essential Benefits
Extra-virgin olive oils are best to ensure you get all the health benefits. It should be kept in a cool dark place or in the fridge to keep it fresh.
Olive oil can be used as a primary oil in cooking, marinades and salad dressings. You can heat it. Monounsaturated fats tend to be stable. When sautéing, keep the heat at a low level.
A good rule of thumb when making salad dressings or marinades is to use three to two tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil and one to two teaspoons citrus juice or vinegar. Add fresh or dried herbs, seasonings, and any other ingredients.
Three tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 1 clove garlic and a pinch of dried red peppers make a delicious vinaigrette.
Are Olive Oil Benefits Brand-Specific?
Our Olive Oil experts recommend that you verify the authenticity of what you purchase. According to a Journal of Food Science study, olive oil is the most inedible food item.
These issues include mislabeled origin states, missing components on labels, additions of cheaper seed, nut and vegetable oils, and questionable purity.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or real extra virgin olive oil) is only the oil extracted from mechanically pressed olive seed. No heat or chemical processes can be used. For freshness, check the label for a harvest date. Your olive oil should be less than one year old in a perfect world.
Olive oil can be stored in good conditions for up to two years. It is possible to legitimately use a brand that has the International Olive Oil Council's (IOOC), or California Olive Oil Council's (COOC) stamp of approval.
Visit a shop that sells olive oils if you are able to. They will give you a taste test.
Also, avoid olive oil that has been stored in dark bottles. This will preserve its freshness and prevent oxidation.