BlogThe Health Benefits of Olive Oil - May 23, 12:32 am
Over 50 years ago, researchers studying Greeks living on the island of Crete made a surprising discovery: heart disease was practically nonexistent there! Heart disease caused only 4% of deaths among middle-aged Cretan men. In comparison, the number in America was more than 10 times higher – at a whopping 46%! Why is that? It’s quite simple…
Greeks, Sicilians, and the inhabitants of other Mediterranean countries are considered to be the healthiest people on the planet. They have low cancer rates, high life expectancies, and very few cases of heart disease. They’re rarely prone to health problems that plague many other countries. It’s because they live on the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes plants, fish, fruits, vegetables, and olive oil.
Olive oil plays a huge part in the Mediterranean diet. Any self-respecting Greek or Sicilian chef would choose olive oil over butter any day of the week. While olive oil and butter have the same amount of calories, both ingredients impact the body in very different ways. Butter is very rich in saturated fat, the kind that makes it difficult for the body to clean out low-destiny lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. When it stays in the body, LDL cholesterol blocks arteries, eventually causing all kinds of heart problems. Olive oil, on the other hand, is a monounsaturated fat. It enables the body to keep the arteries clear, normalize blood clotting, control blood sugar, and rid itself of LDL cholesterol while leaving the beneficial high-density lipoprotein cholesterol alone. Simply replacing butter with olive oil can substantially improve your cardiovascular health in so many different ways.
Not only does olive oil reduce your risk of heart disease, it also helps protect you from cancer. Numerous studies suggested that the polypheonols (natural antioxidants that disable free radicals before they damage the body) in olive oil help prevent digestive tract cancers. Also, evidence shows that the high level of vitamin E in olive oil helps prevent breast cancer by stopping cellular damage. A 1996 study by the researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and the Athens School of Public Health found that women who consumed olive oil more than once a day had 25% lower risks of breast cancer compared to those who used it less often. Other scientific studies showed that people who ingested two tablespoons of virgin olive oil daily for a week had higher levels of antioxidants in their blood.
Olive oil is also promising when it comes to cognitive health. A recent large study in France showed that the older adults with higher olive oil intake had better visual memory and verbal skills. They attributed this to the fact that olive oil helps offset many different types of brain-related problems like unbalanced nervous system activity. Scientists are still looking for further clues on how olive oil benefits the brain.
There are so many different ways you could increase your olive oil intake. Instead of slathering butter on your bread, dip it in olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese. Trade in that bottle of ranch dressing for some olive oil and vinegar. Marinate your steak in olive oil. The possibilities are endless!
Frantoio presses our very own award winning olive oil in house.
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