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Extra-Virgin Olive Oil and Its Benefits: How It Can Help You

Updated on July 29, 2015

Olive Oil Benefits

Olive oil is an amazing and useful monounsaturated fat that is made my pressing olives. People all over the world use olive oil, but it is used in higher quantities in the Mediterranean where olive trees are a native crop staple. People from this region of the world are associated with having longer, healthier lives with lower risks of certain diseases. Olive oil has many uses outside of the traditional use of cooking. Olive oil is used in makeup, skincare, medications, and soaps. It is also a fuel for oil lamps.

Olive oil can be purchased in several forms: extra-virgin, virgin, pure, and extra light. The difference between each of these forms is the amount of processing that the olive oil undergoes. The best olive oil is extra-virgin olive oil because it is created from the first press of the olives and it is the least processed.

How is Olive Oil Made?

Olive oil is created by crushing cleaned olives between metal blades to turn the olives in to a mashed consistency. The mashed up olives are stirred to release the drops of oil. It is then placed in a centrifuge and spun to extricate the oil and water from the rest of the mixture. After it is taken from the centrifuge, the water is removed and the liquid that remains is olive oil.

As stated above, there are several types of olive oil.

Extra-virgin olive oil is the purest form of olive oil available and it also has the most health benefits. Less than half of the olive oil produced is extra-virgin olive oil. The rest becomes one of the other varieties of olive oil.

Virgin olive oil is produced when the same olives used to create the extra-virgin olive oil are mashed up between the metal blades a second time to extract the remaining liquid from the olives. It is then put through the same process as before.

Pure olive oil is produced when extra-virgin olive oil is mixed with virgin olive oil and then put through a refining process. This method is used to enhance the flavor of a poor quality extraction of the oil from the olive.

What do you mostly use olive oil for?

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Cooking with Olive Oil

Olive oil is most commonly used in cooking. Olive oil can be used as a base for salad dressings, backed goods, it can be drizzled on top of many food items before serving for added flavor, it can also be used in grilling and sautéing amongst other uses. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil can be used daily. 2-3 tablespoons a day will provide the body with all of the beneficial health effects associated with this natural antioxidant. As an antioxidant, olive oil helps to maintain free-radicals by binding with them and neutralizing their harmful effects on the body.

  • Monounsaturated fats like olive oil, are healthier than saturated and trans fats

  • Extra-virgin olive oil has more antioxidants than processed olive oils.

  • Regular consumption of olive oil helps to lower the risk of heart disease because it helps to control cholesterol.

Health Benefits Associated with Olive Oil

Olive oil is attributed to decrease the risk of contracting several diseases. Monounsaturated fats like olive oil, are healthier than saturated and trans fats. To get the reap the best health benefits from olive oil, be sure to use only extra-virgin olive oil in your cooking because it has more antioxidants than processed olive oils. Regular consumption of olive oil helps to lower the risk of heart disease because it helps to control cholesterol. Persons with high cholesterol are at risk for clogged arteries that lead to strokes or heart attacks. When there is too much cholesterol, arteries become narrower and it becomes more difficult for oxygen to reach the heart. This narrowing of the arteries is what is referred to as heart disease. Mediterranean people who have diets that consist of the daily intake of olive oil are less likely to contract this disease, this is because olive oil is their main source of fat and it is more healthful than other types of fat commonly used in other parts of the world.

High Blood Pressure

People who consume daily olive oil are also less likely to have high blood pressure. Hypertension can also lead to heart disease, stroke, or heart attacks. High blood pressure is commonly found in populations with a high salt intake. Reducing salt intake and adding olive oil to your daily diet will decrease your risk of hypertension significantly.

Cardiovascular Diseases

Olive oil improves cardiovascular health and greatly reduces the likelihood of suffering from conditions that are associated with and lead to heart disease. It has been proven to lower the risk of stroke in the elderly by at least 40%.

Depression

Depression can also be managed by olive oil consumption. By removing saturated and trans fats from the diet and replacing them with monounsaturated fats like olive oil, you will lower your risk of depression by nearly 50%.

Cancers

Olive oil has been shown to help prevent damage to DNA and actually reduces the activity of the oncogene that promotes the growth of malign tumors in the breast. Breast tumors found in women with a daily intake of olive oil have a higher rate of being benign.

Colon cancer has a direct correlation with diets that are high in fats. Much like with breast cancer, olive oil is shown to have the opposite effect of harmful saturated and trans fats and actually works to prevent the development of tumors and growths in the colon.

Olive oil has also shown to be a protectant against ovarian, prostate, and skin cancers. A study in Italy showed that women with hire olive oil intake had the lowest rate of ovarian cancer. For men, the mediteranean diet, in general, seems to lower the risk of prostate cancer. As for skin cancer, the sun is one of the causes of damaging free-radicals. The antioxidant power of extra-virgin olive oil can help to soothe sunburns and help minimize sun damage.

Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas is inflamed or swollen. Pancreatitis can occur suddenly or it can be a recurring issue. Oxides are a known irritant to the body and are a cause of inflammatory responses. Olive oil’s antioxidant powers help protect the pancreas from becoming inflamed.

Liver

The antioxidants in olive oil help protect the liver from free-radicals that cause stress, or damage to cells, in the liver.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Intake of oleic acid, which is an element of olive oil, has been shown to lower instances of colitis up to an astounding 90%! The oleic acid works to block the harmful chemicals that cause the bowels to become inflamed.

Alternative Uses for Olive Oil

Aside from the many wonderful health benefits received from a diet with a high intake of olive oil, there are many other alternative uses for olive oil. Olive oil is used in cosmetics, medications, and skincare products such as soap. In addition, olive oil can be used to help with daily household tasks or to fix minor problems.

Cosmetics and Skincare

Olive oil is a common ingredient found in skincare products. It is used in skincare to maintain the elasticity of the skin and it also helps to hydrate/moisturize the skin. It can also be used on nails and cuticles to moisturize before a manicure. Olive oil can be added to shampoos and conditioners as an added treatment for dry, brittle, and damaged hair. You can use the same extra-virgin olive oil that you use for cooking and add it to baths, add it to your skincare products, or use it on your skin as it is. It can also be used when shaving to protect and moisturize the skin.

Medications/Pharmecitucals

Olive oil can be used to treat several minor irritations and ailments. It can be used as a spray to remove excessive wax from the ear canal. It has proven useful in treating skin conditions such as psoriasis and exzema and can prevent stretch marks as well as reduce the appearance of stretch marks. It can be applied to scrapes and scratches to soothe and heal. It can be used on insect stings and bites as well. In addition, olive leaf, simply the leaves from an olive tree, is used to treat different types of infections, both bacterial and viral, of the respiratory system and several other conditions ranging from tuberculosis to menegitis.

Household Uses of Olive Oil

There are hundreds of uses for olive oil around the house. The list below is hardly exhaustive, but will give you an idea of how useful olive oil is, even without ingesting it.

  • Polish wood by combining it with vinegar and citrus for scent.
  • Free a zipper that has gotten stuck
  • Exfoliates dead skin when combined with sugar to form a scrub
  • Removes paint from the skin
  • Lice treatment
  • A teaspoon before bed eases snoring
  • Eliminate the annoying squeak produced by a door
  • Create a lip scrub to aid chapped lips by adding sugar
  • Removes stubborn eye makeup
  • Heals cracked heels
  • Treat acne
  • Use in homemade cosmetics for lips, eyes, and cheeks
  • Facial masks
  • Diaper rash
  • Keep kitchen utensils free from sticky ingredients by coating them before use
  • Remove stickers
  • Remove gum from surfaces

Review

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all of the benefits of olive oil. Olive oil, especially extra-virgin olive oil has so many amazing health benefits and has been scientifically proven to drastically reduce many diseases. The meditaranen people who use olive oil in their foods daily have much lower instances of heart disease, certain cancers, and an overall healthier cardiovascular system.

The uses of this miracle monounsaturated fat are unlimited and go beyond the benefits of including it in the diet. It has been shown to improve skin by moisturizing it, making it more elastic, and by healing cracking, broken, and stretched skin. It can be found in cosmetics and skincare or used to create beauty solutions in your home such as: hair conditioner, body and lip scrubs, and on your nails as a cuticle oil. Lastly, it can be used to help with polishing and cleaning tasks and as a paint remover.

Conclusion

This miracle oil derived from the olive tree is truly an amazingly beneficial and highly dynamic fat that you will want to include in your diet. Olive oil is an immensely useful ingredient to always have on hand in the home. Use two to three tablespoons of olive oil in your everyday cooking to receive all of the benefits listed here and more.

Disclaimer - All information was gathered through personal research. I am a writer and teacher - not a medical professional.

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