Olive oil benefits and its powerful phytochemicals
Olive oil benefits are attributed to healthy fats and phytochemicals. It is rich source of monounsaturated fat, while containing relativly low amounts of polyunsaturated and saturated fats.
When it comes to phytochemicals, besides oleuropein, it contains tyrosol, hydroxytyrosol, lignans, anthocyanidins, apigenin and other flavonoids.
However, which grade of oil you are using, can make a big difference. Extra virgin olive oil is the least processed because of which it contains the highest amounts of healthy fats and heart strengthening phytochemicals.
It is one of the reasons why mediterranean diet is so effective for lowering the risk and treating heart disease.
OLIVE OIL BENEFITS FOR TREATING HEART DISEASE
Although fats tend to increase cholesterol, healthy fats such as the ones found in olive oil can actually reduce cholesterol, when consumed in appropriate amounts.
Oleic acid from olives may reduce total and LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol thereby improving HDL to LDL ratio. By changing signaling patterns in the cell, it can lower high blood pressure.
On the other hand, thanks to oleuropein and its metabolite hydroxytyrosol, the oil can prevent oxidation of LDL cholesterol, neutralize free radicals and increase antioxidant defense, by supporting healthy adaptations at cellular level.
When you add other powerful polyphenols found in extra virgin olive oil such as oleocanthal, luteolin and lignans, anti-inflammatory effect of olive oil, skyrockets.
Regular consuption of olive oil has shown to reduce the level of chemicals associated with inflammation such as thromboxane, leukotriene and COX.
As inflammation reaction stabilizes, the risk of blood clots, atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease and heart attack goes down, especially when combined with healthy fats found in olive oil.
OLIVE OIL BENEFITS FOR PREVENTING CANCER
Oleuropein is able to improve the function of immune system, thanks to which olive oil can lower the risk of cancer, especially in combination with its anti-inflammatory properties.
Since phytochemicals have strong antioxidant characteristics, olives can reduce and even prevent oxidative damage to DNA. It seems to be the most effective against skin and prostate cancer as well as against cancer of digestive and respiratory system.
If you rub extra virgin olive oil onto your skin, during and after sunbathing, you can reduce the risk from skin melanoma. It is an old custom, here in Croatia.
OLIVE OIL BENEFITS FOR PREVENTING DEMENTIA
Besides fighting free radicals, phenols in olive oil may also neutralize toxic brain chemicals which scientists associate with memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Since it can reduce cholesterol, stabilize blood clotting mechanisms and prevent oxidation of LDL cholesterol, the oil is able to significantly decrease the risk of stroke thereby preventing brain damage.
Few studies have been preformed which confirmed protective effect of olive oil. People that have been using olive oil on regular basis for cooking and as a dressing, had 40 % lower risk of stroke and 20 % lower risk of dementia, compared to those who never used olive oil.
The oil can also be used to heal cracked lips, as a hair and skin tonic or for preventing gallstones. Despite olive oil benefits, moderation is the key since even the healthy fats are high in calories.
In order to get all these benefits and reduce the risk of heart disease, you have to consume about 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil, at least every other day. Although you can use it for cooking, it is better not to, since sufficient amount of heat can destroy its phytochemicals. Instead, pour it over your meals and salads.
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