Extra virgin olive oil, rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, is a major component of the Mediterranean diet. Mediterraneans that routinely indulge in EVOO live longer and have a lower risk of cancer, heart disease and other illnesses than many North Americans and Northern Europeans.
The phytonutrient in olive oil, oleocanthal, mimics the effect of ibuprofen in reducing inflammation, which can decrease the risk of breast cancer and its recurrence. Squalene and lignans are among the other olive oil components being studied for their possible effects on cancer.
Olive oil lowers the levels of total blood cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol and triglycerides. At the same time it does not alter the levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol (and may even raise them), which helps fend off the formation of fatty patches, thus stimulating the elimination of LDLs.
Recent studies indicate that regular consumption of olive oil can help decrease both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
It has been demonstrated that a diet rich in olive oil, low in saturated fats, moderately rich in carbohydrates and soluble fiber from fruit, vegetables, pulses and grains is the most effective approach for diabetics. It helps lower “bad” low-density lipoproteins while improving blood sugar control and enhancing insulin sensitivity.
Although high in calories, olive oil has shown to help reduce levels of obesity.
Although the reasons are still not fully clear, recent studies have proven that people with diets containing high levels of olive oil are less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis.
A high consumption of olive oil appears to improve bone mineralization and calcification. It helps calcium absorption and so plays an important role preventing and reducing pain from osteoporosis.
Loading up on EVOO allows the circulatory benefits of EVOO to flow through your body. Olive oil improves blood circulation to all areas of the body, which improves all aspects of life.
Studies have shown that indulging in EVOO helps reduce (and in some cases protects against) the decline in cognitive ability that comes with some diseases like Alzheimers.
For many working professionals, job stress is just an every day fact of life. Obviously you can't stop working, but there are little tricks out there to help with stress - and replacing trans fat consumption with EVOO is one of them.
According to research from the University of Navarra and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (cited by the Olive Oil Times), diets high in EVOO can improve mental health. The aim of the Spanish study was to find out what parts of a diet impact stroke, heart disease and other ailments. The researchers followed 12,059 Navarra university graduates for six years, recording whatever information they could about their volunteers' diets and medical histories. One of interesting findings was that none of the graduates were suffering from depression at the start of the study - but 657 were by the end. Obviously, the researchers were curious as to why. Through combing through their data, they uncovered that those subjects who ate a lot of trans fat increased their risk of depression by 48% compared to those who didn't. Another interesting finding was that diets containing large amounts of olive oil and poly-saturated fats correlated with low rates of depression.
Those findings line up with another Spanish study which found that those who adhered to a Mediterranean style diet containing high amounts of olive oil, fruit, beans and veggies reduced their risk of depression by 30%.
Tons of studies out there (like this one from WebMD) have shown that eating too much trans fat can cause depression. If you're looking to lighten up, try going EVOO instead. You might be surprised at how great you feel after a while.
Believe it or not, studies have shown that a Mediterranean (Med) diet with EVOO is a better weight loss diet than a low-fat diet. An article recently published by the OliveOilTimes cited a study that monitored those who were on a low-fat diet, a Med + EVOO diet, and a Med + nuts diet for 5 years. The results were striking.
For those looking to lose that little bit extra, EVOO may be worth a try (just don't measure it by the length of your waistband).