Olive oil is also known as the elixir of life and has been a symbol of vitality for thousands of years. Rich in vitamin E, oleic acid and other antioxidants, scientists are just discovering what Cretans have always known: olive oil is a key ingredient of good health and long life. Regular intake of this "liquid gold" benefits your body by:
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants (chlorophyll, carotenoids and vitamin E) that prevent LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) from oxidizing. If the cholesterol oxidizes, it forms plaque and builds up on the artery walls, which can eventually result in heart attack or stroke.
Oleic acid, which is found in the monounsaturated fat of olive oil, is thought to reduce the effect of an oncogene (Her-2/heu), which turns host cells in your body into cancer cells.
Her-2/heu oncogene is connected with the rapid growth of breast cancer tumors. But the use of olive oil combined with doctor approved drug therapy has resulted in an increased destruction of cancer cells.
Unlike other fats, olive oil actually helps protect cells in the colon from carcinogens, reducing your risk of colon cancer.
People with type two diabetes can lower their blood sugar levels and decrease insulin requirements by maintaining diets rich in olive oil.
Olive oil rich diets can also prevent belly fat accumulation and insulin resistance.
Your body takes the healthy fats from the olive oil and produces natural anti-inflammatory agents that can reduce the severity of arthritis and asthma.
Extra-virgin olive oil contains a compound that limits the prostaglandin system, the same way that anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen do.
Although its chemical structure is quite different from the anti-inflammatory compounds in drugs like ibuprofen, olive oil's anti-inflammatory component, named "oleocanthal", has a very similar effect.
Four tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil provide enough oleocanthal to produce the equivalent of about 10 per cent of an adult dose recommended for pain relief.
Olive oil reduces the risk of gastric juices travelling up to the esophagus from the stomach. What’s more, it also helps the contents in the stomach to be released slowly into the small intestine, which helps digestion and leads to more nutrient absorption.
Olive oil can reduce the amount of carcinogenic HA's (heterocyclic amines) formed when you cook meat.
Research shows that people whose diet is rich in olive oil are far less likely to develop ulcerative colitis, an extremely painful condition that causes ulcers in the lining of your rectum and colon.
By replacing the fats you use (butter, canola oil, etc.) with monounsaturated ones, like olive oil, you can continue to eat fats without actually getting fat.
If you compare the Mediterranean, where olive oil is the main fat consumed, to the United States, where animal fat, hydrogenated fat and vegetable fats are the norm, you find some interesting data. It turns out that people who use olive oil regularly, especially in place of other fats, have much lower rates of heart disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer, asthma and are much less prone to obesity.