Olive oil, a major constituent of the Mediterranean cuisine, has quickly gained popularity as one of the healthiest oils in the world.
The oil comes in various grades ranging from regular, virgin and extra virgin, has a sharp, slightly peppery and fruity flavour and is really easy to include in a variety of recipes. You can saute vegetables in olive oil or drizzle some of the oil on a salad. However, it is best not to fry anything in olive oil as that may change its flavour.
Olive oil is loaded with antioxidants and monounsaturated fatty acids, providing it with a myriad of health benefits. It helps fight free radical damage and improves organ function and is considered to be good for the heart. Free radicals are singlet oxygen or hydroxyl molecules that are formed as a result of metabolic function in the body and are neutralized by the body’s natural antioxidants. However, ageing, stress and other lifestyle factors lead to accumulation of free radicals, which can gradually affect body functions.
Here are five health benefits of olive oil that you should know.
1. Improves heart health
Research studies show that olive oil is highly beneficial for the heart. It reduces inflammation, increases HDL (good cholesterol) and lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in the body. The polyphenols present in the oil prevent LDL oxidation, which may otherwise lead to atherosclerosis and, in turn, increase the risk of stroke and heart attack. Olive oil is also effective in reducing blood pressure and is shown to help reduce the need for blood pressure medications in some studies. However, olive oil is not a substitute for medication; you should take your medications as prescribed by your doctor.
2. Improves brain function
Regular consumption of olive oil has been shown to be helpful in improving brain function and cognition (your ability to understand and remember things). Research shows that olive oil aids in reducing the risk of plaque formation in the brain and hence Alzheimer’s. It is also suggested to be helpful in slowing down Alzheimer’s progression.
3. Helps manage blood sugar levels
Mediterranian diet intake is associated with a significantly lower risk of developing diabetes. Experts say that olive oil promotes the uptake of glucose from the bloodstream and helps reduce total blood sugar levels. Additionally, the anti-inflammatory properties of olive oil may also help reduce the severity of diabetes.
4. Improves skin health
Olive oil is loaded with vitamin A, E, D and K and antioxidants like squalene, which make it an excellent addition to your skincare routine. The oil can nourish and moisturise your skin and also fight the signs of premature ageing, including fine lines, dark spots and wrinkles, providing you with glowing and younger-looking skin.
5. Reduces stomach issues
Drinking one tablespoon of olive oil every morning is believed to aid in moistening the gut and facilitating the passage of stool. Studies show that the oil has antimicrobial properties and is effective against Helicobacter pylori, the causative agent of peptic ulcers. Regular consumption of olive oil is also suggested to reduce the risk of stomach cancer.
For more information, read our article on Olive oil.
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