Olive oil has been called the most-studied vegetable oil in history. Dozens of studies have investigated its possible benefits for health, and a ton of research has shown that olive oil comes with impressive health benefits.
Now, recent reports from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology revealed that individuals who ingest seven grams (or around 1/2 tablespoon) of healthy olive oil each day saw benefits associated with a lower risk of various health issues including cardiovascular disease mortality as well as cancer mortality.
On quick glance, it seems that adding olive oil to your favorite foods is a low-effort way to get some good fats and antioxidants that your body loves. In this article, we'll explore the beneficial properties of olive oil and offer tips on how to add this nutrient-dense oil to your diet.
What is Olive Oil?
Olive oil is a type of vegetable oil that is extracted from olives, the fruit of the olive tree.
It is a type of monounsaturated fat, which means that it has one double bond in its molecular structure. This molecular structure makes olive oil more resistant to oxidation than other types of vegetable oils.
Olive oil is a popular cooking oil that serves as a go-to for sautéing and is also used in salad dressings, dips, and spreads. It is available in both extra-virgin and virgin varieties. Extra-virgin olive oil is the highest quality olive oil and has the most antioxidants, which means it takes longer to spoil.
What Are the Health Benefits of Olive Oil?
The health benefits of olive oil are vast and include reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and other chronic diseases. Some of the key benefits of olive oil include:
- Potential to reduce inflammation. Olive oil is packed with antioxidants, which protect the body from oxidative stress and inflammation.
- Possibly cancer-protective. Olive oil has been shown to reduce the risk of some types of cancer, including breast cancer.
- May protect the brain. Long-term use of olive oil has been shown to preserve cognitive function.
- Potentially protective against Altzheimer’s disease. Phenols in olive oil have known antioxidant activity which could help protect from brain degeneration.
Of course, diet, lifestyle, and environment contribute to the above conditions and olive oil isn’t a replacement for healthy practices. But, olive oil can be a great addition to your wellness regimen.
What New Research Reveals
The new study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has revealed that individuals who consume more than the average amount of olive oil daily saw reduced risks associated with heart disease, stroke, and other issues.
In the study, researchers looked at over 60,000 women and 31,000 men that showed no risk of cardiovascular disease or cancer starting in 1990.
From there, the study participants were asked to track their olive oil consumption on a regular basis.
The results found that participants typically ingested olive oil in three main ways:
- In olive oil that was used for salads and salad dressings
- Olive oil that was added to recipes for bread or other foods
- Baking and frying uses of olive oil
After analyzing the data, the researchers found that participants who consumed more than the average amount of olive oil revealed the following over time:
- 19% reduced risk for cardiovascular mortality
- 17% reduced risk of mortality due to cancer
- 29% lower risk of mortality from neurodegenerative issues
- 18% reduced risk of respiratory-related mortality
This astounding research shows that consuming olive oil in moderation can have significant benefits for overall health.
4 Ways to Add Olive Oil to Your Diet
There are many ways to add olive oil to your diet to reap its health benefits. Here are just a few tips to help you get started:
- Olive oil as the foundation for salad dressings. Try using olive oil as your main salad dressing base. Add a touch of balsamic vinegar or lemon juice, garlic, herbs, and 1-2 monk fruit drops to sweeten.
- Bread and olive oil. Try adding olive oil to your favorite homemade bread recipes, or use olive oil with a sprinkle of herbs and sea salt as a dipping oil.
- Olive oil in cooking. Olive oil is a go-to culinary oil and can be used for sautéing or low-and-slow roasting. It is not recommended for frying, because the high heat will burn the oil.
- Use as a finishing oil. High-quality olive oil is a fantastic finishing oil to pasta and soup dishes.
Those who take steps today to start adding olive oil to their diet can look forward to enjoying its many health benefits for years to come. These additions as part of an overall healthy lifestyle can help keep you on the path to a quality life for decades to come.