When discussing oils, olive oil receives a lot of praise and recognition and is known to maintain superiority over its counterparts. If you're wondering whether olive oil is really worth the hype, this article will help you better understand its numerous benefits for good health.
When speaking about oils and fats, one may instantly conjure adjectives like ‘fattening’ or ‘unhealthy’. However, while oil is usually under the scanner for its increased consumption leading to several lifestyle disorders, not all oils are culprits in this deteriorating state of wellbeing. For example, olive oil is good for health and confers several benefits when consumed in the right amount.
Olive Oil Nutrition
- Calories: Olive oil is a good source of energy, required for daily activities as well as to maintain optimum health
- Monounsaturated fat (MUFA): Olive oil is an excellent source of MUFA, that helps reduce bad cholesterol in the blood
- Polyunsaturated fat (PUFA): Olive oil also contains PUFA, the good kind of fats
- Saturated fat: Olive oil contains a small amount of saturated fat, the type of fat that needs to be consumed in moderation
- Vitamin E: Vit E is a commendable antioxidant that protects our cells
Types of Olive Oil
There are three common types of olive oil, namely:
Virgin olive oil:Fresh olives are crushed to mechanically extract this type of olive oil without using chemicals or exposing the fruit to heat. It retains most of the health benefits because its active compounds like polyphenols are not lost in the manufacturing process. The oil thus produced preserves the original flavour. Virgin olive oil is also known as first-press, cold-pressed, or cold-extracted olive oil.
Refined olive oil:This is a low-quality olive oil that is refined, leading to the loss of most of the fatty acids and other impurities in the oil. It also results in the loss of beneficial compounds like polyphenols and the end product lacks taste, colour and odour without much difference from the refined vegetable oils.
Olive pomace oil:The pulp that is left behind after extracting virgin olive oil is subjected to solvents and heat to yield olive pomace oil.
It must be noted that, contrary to popular belief, olive oil for cooking applications is a safe and superior choice. In fact, some of the olive oil’s beneficial components are even transferred to the food while cooking!
Health Benefits of Olive Oil
Excellent source of good fats:Olive oil’s benefits are attributed to its high MUFA content. Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) are a type of healthy fat that helps to maintain a suitable balance of blood lipid profiles. Olive oil is made up of about 83% oleic acid which may help decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases. When swapped for saturated fats in the diet, oleic acid increases HDL cholesterol, which is a good type of fat and reduces its undesirable analogue, Low-Density Lipoprotein cholesterol. It also moderates the range of blood pressure, and takes part in maintaining glucose levels.
Powerful antioxidant:Olive oil contains phenolic compounds like oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol, which are components that act as antioxidants. Another antioxidant in olive oil, hydroxytyrosol, is known to be anti-inflammatory and may have an indirect role to play in reducing the size of fat cells, hinting at a role in weight management. Oleocanthal is also an active compound in olive oil that confers therapeutic effects.
Helps maintain a happy heart:Our body reacts to inflammation, such as tissue injury, by going into defence mode and trying to reverse the trauma. But inflammation for an extended period of time is undesirable as it can contribute to the development of several diseases, such as cardiovascular disorders. Olive oil influences the markers of inflammation in the blood, promising a calming effect. Limited data also suggests that daily consumption of about 2 tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil may decrease the risk of coronary heart disease. This is because of the high MUFA content in olive oil.
Good for skin and hair:Olive oil benefits for skin is due to its antioxidant activity. This oil containing essential fatty acids, is known to be nourishing and moisturising. Treating the skin with olive oil does not indicate any side effects, nor does it leave burned patches. On the contrary, it can soothe inflammation and also influence the immune system, exhibiting a protective effect on the body and reducing signs of aging. Besides, the oleuropein content is attributed to playing a role in stimulating new hair follicles. Olive oil benefits for hair are proven by science and may also be utilised to deal with hair loss.
Does wonders to our overall system:A Mediterranean-style diet that is high in olive oil is good for health. It is protective towards the heart, good for the gut as it enhances the healthy microorganisms thriving in it and is necessary for brain outcome, cognition and may also reduce the risk of depression. Since olive oil isn’t a good source of free fatty acids, it helps to prevent cell death and undesirable inflammation that is usually is a cause of insulin resistance leading to diabetes. The use of olive oil may also inhibit the progression of tumors.
Use of Olive Oil
Olive oil can also be used in soup preparations. For example, in the Italian Minestrone Soup Recipe, it can be used to sauté the garlic and onions before adding the macaroni. As a good source of healthy fats, olive oil makes the soup more nutritious and delicious.
This Chinese dish has a loyal fan-following. When olive oil is used to prepare noodles like zucchini noodles, it can add a healthy twist to it and ensure taste meets nutrition.
Since only a small quantity of pure oil is yielded from its manufacturing process, virgin olive oil is costlier than others. However, olive oil health benefits are immense and this is the variety with the maximum polyphenolic content known to administer several advantages when ingested. It is worth including a few teaspoons in everyday meals as olive oil is one of the best forms of oil that can be used in salads as well as to cook regular dishes!