So, what makes olive oils better for us than other types of oil?
In my quest to understand the health benefits of olive oil, I compiled some interesting facts about olive oils.
For starters, here are the different types of olive oils.
Of course, one of the most common (and healthiest) of all the olive oils is Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
In case you’re wondering the different grades of olive oil, here’s the scoop:
Olive oil is pressed from the ripe olives after they are harvested. Oil from the first pressing is classified as virgin. Extra virgin simply means an oil from the first pressing that is particularly low in acid — less than 1%. It is considered the finest oil, and is likely to have the fruitiest and most pronounced flavor. Virgin olive oil may have as much as 4% acid. Fino or fine olive oil is a blend of extra virgin and virgin olive oils, with an acid content not above 3%. Source
Now onto the health benefits of olive oils:
#1 Olive oils protect against heart disease.
There is a high percentage of monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidative substances in olive oil which help to keep your heart healthy. In fact, olive oils are great at controlling your body’s level of LDL’s (bad cholesterol) while increasing HDL’s (good cholesterol).
#2 Olive oil is a cancer inhibitor.
One study found that oleic acid (a monounsaturated fatty acid in olive oil) has the ability to shrink the affect of an oncogene — which is a gene that has the ability to turn a host cell into a cancer cell. Ingesting olive oil, along with drug therapy, actually helped destroy some cancers.
#3 Olive oil helps prevent ulcers and gastritis.
Behaving as a mild laxative, olive oil can actually help to keep your digestive system healthy. It also keeps down the production of HCL. (Increased HCL influences the formation of ulcers and other stomach problems.)
#4 Olive oils help to regulate blood sugars, which is important in preventing diabetes.
Some studies have shown that those with diabetes who added olive oils to their diet actually were able to lower the blood glucose levels so well that they required less insulin.
#5 Olive oils are good for your body’s plasma.
Specifically, when olive oil is combined with tomato products it increases the antioxidant activity of your plasma. When comparing the effect of consumption of tomato products with extra-virgin olive oil versus sunflower oil, the tomato/olive oil combination generated increased plasma antioxidant activity by around 20%.
#6 Olive oil helps to prevent gallstone formation.
Gallstones are formed when bile that is stored in your gallbladder hardens to the consistency of stones. Olive oil actually animates bile secretion and helps the gallbladder to empty on a regular basis.
#7 Olive oils control inflammation.
Inflammation is your immune system’s way of protecting your body from injury and infection. However, too much inflammation can be painful and can actually harm the body. Olive oils can lessen the effects of the inflammation.
#8 Olive oils can help you lose weight.
One study found that those who substituted monounsaturated fats (like those found in olive oils) for saturated fats, but didn’t do anything else, actually still lost some weight or maintained the weight they were at. When combined with exercise and a healthier diet, weight loss was assured.
Those are the main health benefits of including olive oils in your diet. As you can see, there are many!
Extra virgin olive is the best to use because it is the purest form and has the highest concentration of monounsaturated fats. The lesser forms (such as pure olive oil or even cold-pressed olive oil) don’t have as high of concentration and, therefore, may not give you as much benefit.