What are the Benefits of Olive Oil?

Olive oil has been used medicinally for centuries. In Ancient Greece, Hippocrates called olive oil “the great healer” and prescribed olive oil for various general ailments. Now, modern scientific and technological advancements have allowed researchers to understand exactly what health benefits you can expect by consuming olive oil daily. We’ve compiled the most compelling studies that link olive oil consumption to specific health conditions so you can learn how to improve your health, and what to look for when purchasing olive oil for these purposes.

 

Improve brain function

Simply switching to higher-quality oil sources can have a protective effect on brain health, even at doses as low as two tablespoons a day. Researchers found that elderly study participants that completely replaced all the various vegetable oils in their diet (such as safflower, canola or low-quality olive oil) to high-quality extra virgin olive oil had improved cognitive function just one year later1. Similarly, mice fed with EVOO for six months displayed less Alzheimer’s disease-causing protein aggregates in their brain, resulting in improved memory and cognitive function2.

 

Combat diabetes

Incorporating high-phenolic EVOO into your daily routine may represent an effective method to defend against diabetes. Earlier this year, researchers found that olive oils high in phenolic compounds can be used for the maintenance of diabetes3. They extracted the medically active phenolic compounds from high-quality olive oil and found that these EVOO extracts were more effective at inhibiting diabetes-related enzymes than Acarbose, a common drug prescribed to diabetics.

 

Control inflammation

High-quality EVOO has a repertoire of medically-active compounds that keep inflammation in check and protect against developing chronic inflammatory diseases. Various phenolic compounds, such as oleuropein, oleocanthal and hydroxytyrosol, and triterpenic compounds, such as oleanolic acid and maslinic acid, have been credited with the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune-boosting properties of medicinal EVOO. In fact, a recent human study demonstrated the importance of consuming olive oil that is high in both phenols and triterpenes for reducing inflammation and DNA oxidation4.

 

Fend off cancer

Regular EVOO consumption has been linked to decreased risk of developing cancer5. In fact, people in the Mediterranean basin have decreased rates of cancer and decreased cancer mortality6, possibly due to higher EVOO consumption than the rest of the world. Studies have linked the polyphenols found in EVOO to its cancer-fighting abilities; these polyphenols can kill cancer cells, but not non-cancerous cells7, eliminating many of the side effects seen with classic chemotherapies, and can reverse acquired resistance to standard-of-care breast cancer treatments8.

 

Boost heart health

Supplementing your diet with high-phenolic olive oil has been shown to improve your cardiovascular health. High-phenolic olive oil, but not low-phenolic olive oil, has been shown to improve both blood pressure and endothelial function9. And just three weeks of consuming two tablespoons a day of high-phenolic olive oil improved cholesterol levels, whereas low-phenolic olive oil consumption actually worsened cholesterol levels10. The negative effect of low-phenolic olive oil strengthens the importance of using high-quality EVOO.

 

Want to know more about how much olive oil you will need to consume to reap these benefits? Learn more here.

 

Still hungry for more? Get the full scoop on the stories in this post at these links:

1Effect of the replacement of dietary vegetable oils with a low dose of extravirgin olive oil in the Mediterranean Diet on cognitive functions in the elderly.
2Extra virgin olive oil improves synaptic activity, short-term plasticity, memory, and neuropathology in a tauopathy model.
3The involvement of phenolic-rich extracts from Galician autochthonous extra-virgin olive oils against the α-glucosidase and α-amylase inhibition
4Effects of Virgin Olive Oils Differing in Their Bioactive Compound Contents on Biomarkers of Oxidative Stress and Inflammation in Healthy Adults: A Randomized Double-Blind Controlled Trial
5Mediterranean Diet and Invasive Breast Cancer Risk Among Women at High Cardiovascular Risk in the PREDIMED Trial: A Randomized Clinical Trial.
6Adherence to Mediterranean Diet and Risk of Cancer: An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.
7(-)-Oleocanthal and (-)-oleocanthal-rich olive oils induce lysosomal membrane permeabilization in cancer cells
8Olive oil's bitter principle reverses acquired autoresistance to trastuzumab (Herceptin) in HER2-overexpressing breast cancer cells.
9Olive Oil Polyphenols Decrease Blood Pressure and Improve Endothelial Function in Young Women with Mild Hypertension
10Olive Oil Polyphenols Decrease LDL Concentrations and LDL Atherogenicity in Men in a Randomized Controlled Trial.
 

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