Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Heart-Protective and So Much More

Posted by Olivia on Monday, August 29th, 2011

Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Heart-Protective and So Much More

Researchers have seen for years the protective benefits that olive oil consumption has on a person’s heart, and in recent years they’re seeing thebenefits it lends to the rest of the body against chronic diseases. It boils down to the type of fats inside olive oil, and what it is about extra virgin olive oil that makes it so healthy.

Olive oil is mostly a monounsaturated fat, the type of fat that’s been shown to lower total cholesterol, lower LDL (and bad) cholesterol, and normalize blood clotting. These fats have also shown to help regulate blood sugar levels and be of help to those with diabetes.

Furthermore, olive oil is rich in oleic acid, a type of monounsaturated fatty acid. In a quality extra virgin olive oil, the makeup up oleic acid is anywhere from 55 to 83% of the oil. This particular fatty acid, combined with the antioxidants found in fresh extra virgin olive oil, that are thought to make this oil stand above the others in its superior heart-protecting qualities.

The oleic acids are one part of the virtues of olive oil. Now we get on to the “extra virgin” part. The first press of an olive oil, crushed without excessive heat or chemicals, is a superbly nutritious (and delicious!) oil rich in antioxidants. These antioxidants, called polyphenols, are what give an extra virgin olive oil its spice, peppery kick, and robust flavor and aroma. It’s these same antioxidants that add to the disease-reducing powers of olive oil. They’ve been shown to fight cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and protect the heart from coronary damage. Polyphenols and oleic acids combined make for one nutritious olive oil.

The Mayo Clinic recommends eating a Mediterranean diet to live longer and with reduced disease risks. Among other things, the recommendations include replacing other fats in the diet with olive oil. Need help on doing that? Read about butter substitutions here.

The health benefits extend even beyond heart protection. In recent years, it’s been cited to:

·         Prevent strokes

·         Reduce type 2 diabetes

·         Fight against osteoporosis

·         Protect against depression

·         Protect against breast cancer

 

Enjoy your extra virgin olive oil, to your health!


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