Health Benefits of Olive Oil

One of the health benefits of olive oil that encourages me to use more of this healthy oil is prevention against chronic inflammation. If it can prevent inflammation, it can prevent majority of the life-threatening diseases that run in my and my husband's family. Why? Medical studies have discovered that chronic inflammation is the root cause of cancer, heart diseases and diabetes.

I have started using olive oil in 2004. It was the year I decided to live more healthily and to go for healthier food choices for my family. Olive oil is now a staple in my pantry. I used to not know about the extra virgin and virgin varieties. Now I know my oils. The extra virgin and the virgin varieties provide superior health benefits and taste so much better.

How Extra Virgin or Virgin Olive Oil Prevents Cancer

As I said above, health benefits of olive oil include prevention of different cancers especially the colorectal, prostate and breast types.

I believe this is a very important breakthrough because these cancers are passed on within a family (something you are at a higher risk for). These cancers are also closely related to what you eat. So, if you're vulnerable to these types, adding olive oil to your diet benefits you more.

What exactly do the virgin and extra virgin varieties provide in terms of health benefits?

1. It protects your DNA and RNA cells from damage caused by free radicals or oxidation.

2. It helps create a balance between omega 6 and 3 fatty acids. Too much omega 6 (which comes from foods that cause cancer such as meat and other saturated fats) can stimulate cancer cells to prosper and grow.

3. The extra virgin and virgin varieties can kill helicobacter pylori, a bacteria that causes gastric ulcer. Gastric ulcer can lead to cancerous cells in your stomach.

This is based on a study done on olive oil by Dr. Concepcion Romero and her team at the University Hospital of Valme in Spain and published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

The findings from the study is definitely a breakthrough because the bacteria is already becoming resistant to antibiotics.

4. It can help heal gastric ulcer.

This is one of the health benefits of olive oil that was discovered by researchers in a Russian study done on patients with gastric ulcer. (Taits NS, cited in de la Lastra A, et al.,Current Pharmaceutical Design)

5. It prevents inflammatory breast cancer.

The virgin and extra-virgin varieties are rich in oleic acid. Oleic acid is found to decrease high levels of Her-2/neu protein, which is one of the risk factors for inflammatory breast cancer. This is also a positive discovery as IBC is getting to be common among young women.

Related Article: Inflammatory Breast Cancer Symptoms

6. It stimulates your body to produce compounds that can fight cancerous cells.

Just as your body can produce cancer cells, it can also produce "killers" to control them. The extra-virgin and virgin varieties can even induce cancerous cells to self-destruct and die and those tumors that survive become less aggressive.

7. It boosts the action of chemo drugs.

If you're diagnosed with the disease and you're undergoing chemotherapy, make it a part of your daily diet. It pushes Herceptin (a chemo drug) to be more effective against breast cancer cells . These health benefits are results of a study published in the Annals of Oncology.

8. It protects from precancerous colon or rectal polyps.

This is a step forward against colon cancer because polyps are risk factors for it.

When meat is cooked at very high temperature it excretes a carcinogenic substance known as heterocyclic amines (HAs) but when extra-virgin or virgin olive oil is used, it is able to minimize the amount of HAs.

I also read that cases of colorectal cancer are very low among those who live in Mediterranean countries and whose daily meals are composed of Mediterranean diet foods. The healthy oil is one of the basic ingredients in the Mediterranean diet. In fact, it is their only source of fat.

Its health benefits are effective against constipation because of its mild laxative properties.

9. It is being considered as prevention against ALL leukemia.

Various studies are currently being done on how the oil can work against aggressive cancers like Acute Lymphatic Leukemia which affects kids mostly.

Olive Oil's Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Yes, olive oil is one of the anti-inflammatory foods. But first, let's find out how inflammation happens and how it may cause harm.

Meat and saturated fats are sources of Omega 6 fatty acids. When your body breaks down Omega 6, it produces inflammatory compounds. These compounds are not harmful in small amounts but when you consume a lot of Omega 6, the result will also be a lot of inflammatory compounds. They can lead to inflammation.

When your body systems are always exposed to chronic inflammation, it opens the door to cancer, arthritis and diabetes to develop.

It has been found out from studies that when extra virgin or virgin olive oil is part of your daily diet, health benefits of olive oil are . . .

  • It is able to stop Omega 6 from turning into inflammatory compounds, or
  • It can render these compounds weak and harmless.

Olive Oil's Nutritional Facts

The extra virgin or virgin variety is very rich in:

1. monounsaturated fats especially oleic acid

2. polyphenols which release anti-inflammatory compounds

3. antioxidants such as oleuropein, tyrosol, tocopherol or Vitamin E and beta-carotene.

Health benefits of olive oil are also experienced by your heart. Two tablespoons of extra virgin or virgin oil daily protect your heart from strokes, heart attacks, bad cholesterol and LDL.

Did you know?

Spain is the biggest producer of olive oil.

Storing it in the fridge can protect its health benefits and antioxidant properties.

Light can destroy its health benefits so it should be packaged in dark containers and be kept away from light.

Heating it can reduce its polyphenolic nutrients.

It has a short shelf life thus you should only buy it in small bottles.

For more info, see International Olive Oil Council.

How to Choose Your Olive Oil

There are two things I always consider which I suggest that you also do: the taste and how healthy it is.

Health benefits of olive oil depend on how it is made. The best olive oil is extracted from sun-ripened olives.

The extra virgin kind is the least processed because it comes from the first press. It has the best taste (I would say the sweetest!). Having the highest amount of antioxidants is a plus, of course.

So, I like my olive oil to be extra virgin or at least, virgin. I want the best olive oils for myself and my family because they provide more health benefits. They may cost a little more but since they contain more polyphenols and monounsaturated fats compared to just the plain variety, they are definitely worth your health. So, don't scrimp, ok?

Other Uses for Olive Oil

It gives other health benefits on your skin and hair. It is a good moisturizer for the skin and it works as hair treatment. However, you can use the cheaper variety if you will use it just to moisturize and treat your dry skin and hair. You can scrimp on this. Or you can use sunflower oil.

Where to Buy Your Oil

The different varieties are available in all grocery stores. There are also different brands but not all have the same quality. Quality is an important factor in choosing one. The health benefits of olive oil depend on how it is produced.

Here's one of my favorites: Olio and Olive's Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

They have a great selection of extra virgin olive oils which are imported from Italy.

Related Pages You Might Like:

Benefits of An Anti-Inflammatory Diet | Health Benefits of Mediterranean Diet | What are Organic Foods | Advantages of Raw Vegan Diet | Health Benefits of Flax Seeds

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