If you think of olive oil, what's the first association that you make with it? That it's wonderful for dipping bread into, or drizzling on a salad?
Most people know that olive oil is full of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs!) Which lower cholesterol and have additional benefits like improving blood clotting and regulating insulin, but few really do their research why it's so great for all of us.
Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) is an anti-inflammatory and natural antioxidant that maintain cells and blood vessels healthy and strong, and it's a great source of Vitamin E and beta carotene. Some researchers have claimed that a diet packed with EVOO--such as a Mediterranean diet that's also full of vegetables, legumes, and whole grains--can also lower one's risk of cancer rather significantly.
Olive oil has been shown to improve bone health, cognitive (brain) function, and digestive health: using the latter, EVOO appears to help slow the growth of"bad" bacteria in the intestine, while encouraging the growth of beneficial belly flora--similar to active-culture yoghurt.
Apparently the best type of oil you can utilize is extra-virgin oil from Spain, even though it's best not to heat it lower-grade olive oils are better for actual cooking, even whereas EVOO is ideal for dipping and drizzling, so bear that in mind if you plan to incorporate more olive oil into your life.
With all of these great internal benefits from olive oil, it's understandable that few would even consider using this amazing oil for anything other than a condiment. In actuality, it has some wonderful uses that go beyond its popularity as a dressing for your favourite greens:
Olive oil as skincare
Skin can get dry and scaly in wintertime, so consider using olive oil to moisturize it back to its full glory: the second time you take a bath or shower, massage some olive oil in your skin whenever it's still damp, and you'll see results almost immediately.
For particularly dry feet and hands, slather on the oil just before bed and then put on cotton socks and gloves to keep the oil in place as possible sleep. The results you'll see in the morning will be downright astonishing.
You can use olive oil as a lip conditioner, to moisturize and soften cuticles around your nails, and can even be dabbed onto babies' bottoms to help ease diaper rash.
This stuff is also great for your hair: a bit of oil can be rubbed into the scalp an hour before washing to help alleviate dandruffand can also be applied to the ends of your hair if they're dry and splitting. Clients can benefit from topical olive oil as well, particularly on rough paw-pads.
Oil-pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic technique that has been lauded the world over for its therapeutic benefits. Basically, a tablespoon of oil is gargled and swished around the mouth for 15-20 minutes a few times a day, and then spat out.
How does this help your own body? Apparently it acts as a detoxifier, drawing all sorts of bacteria, mucus, and toxins out of the human own body in much the same way that oil in your car's engine accumulates all the dirt and debris within it. People have claimed that it can alleviate all from arthritis and allergies to chronic fatigue and PMS.
Hopefully this isn't something you suffer from, but it works wonders for pet cats: adding 1/2 a teaspoon to your cat's food every day can help to either avoid or alleviate hairball issues, and can also make their coats softer and more lustrous.
It adds moisture to cakes
With its Vitamin E content and compact moisture, olive oil not only makes cakes, cupcakes and muffins rich and moist, it also extends the life of them as it prevents them from drying out too fast. Olive oil will also add extra nutrients into the cakes, and can be used instead of butter to make them lower in calories and much more heart-friendly.
As wood polish
In addition to all of these amazing benefits, you can also use olive oil to polish wooden furniture and floors, though it feels like a terrible waste to use such a great oil for this sort of item. If you are going to go this route, make sure that you use a minimal grade of petroleum so that you don't break the heats of all the craftspeople who work so hard to press the extra-virgin stuff.