Five Health Benefits Of Olive Oil

Scientists have been interested in learning why people living in a few relatively isolated areas of the world live significantly longer and healthier lives than the general population.  These areas where the population lives longer and healthier are called blue zones.  One of these isolated areas is an island in Greece named Ikaria.  Here people have much lower instances of life-threatening illness such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease. 

The people of Ikaria often live past the age of one hundred.  For centuries these people have existed on a Mediterranean style diet. (A Mediterranean style diet consists of a high consumption of vegetables and olive oil, fruits, legumes and whole grains and a moderate consumption of protein.)   Olive oil is one of their food staples.  It contains monounsaturated fats which is one of the good fats and provides several health benefits.  This is unlike the saturated and trans fats which are not healthy for you.

Five widely recognized benefits of olive oil include:

  1.  Olive oil helps reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol
  1.  Olive oil aids in controlling blood pressure
  1.  Olive oil protects against some forms of cancer
  1.  Olive oil acts as an antioxidant
  1.  Olive oil helps maintain healthy brain functions

Olive oil is very high in oleic acid.  This is a monounsaturated fatty acid.  Numerous studies have indicated that monounsaturated fats are very effective at lowering total blood cholesterol.  It will lower the LDL (bad cholesterol) blood levels.   However, fortunately the fats found in olive oil do not reduce the HDL (good cholesterol) levels.  Lower levels of cholesterol can result in less risk of clogged arteries which can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease.

Many studies conducted in the blue zones of the world have produced some important findings.  The test results suggest that regular consumption of olive may reduce problems related to the digestive and respiratory tracts.  There appears to be a link between olive oil and the reduction of some types of cancer, including breast and colorectal cancers.

Olive oil also contains polyphenols which are compounds found in natural plant food sources that have antioxidant properties.  Polyphenols may change the chemistry of the bad (LDL) cholesterol which can hinder the process that leads to atherosclerosis.

A newer study indicates that consumption of olive oil may be effective in reducing the instances of dementia.  Studies indicate that participants who regularly consumed monounsaturated fats produced a higher pattern of success in cognitive abilities spread over time.

Keep in mind that olive oil is not devoid of calories.  If used in moderation, perhaps two tablespoons per day, the evidence of health benefits appears to be pretty convincing.  Another final benefit of olive oil which has not been mentioned is that it tastes delicious.  Live a healthy lifestyle and enjoy your olive oil.