Today, an increasing number of people are swearing by the benefits of olive oil. But, is it good for the heart as claimed to be? This article looks at some benefits of Olive oil.
By Smitha Suresh
The olive tree and its fruit have great historical significance with the ancients recognising it as a panacea for all ills. The past few decades have seen an astounding amount of research on its benefits. Olive oil has healing properties and shows a strong capacity to enhance the functioning of our body on a higher plane of health. These benefits can be classified as follows…
1. For children:
Olive oil helps their growth in several ways – by helping to build stronger cell walls resulting in stronger tissues and bones. It promotes cognitive development and enhances neural growth and even helps to reduce ADHD symptoms. Children who regularly consume olive oil are less likely to become obese and develop chronic disease.
2. For the heart:
People with advanced heart disease who consume olive oil cut their risk of death by almost half. This is because extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is high in antioxidants (Polyphenols) and helps our artery walls get rid of clogging build-up. The HDL in our blood is necessary for a healthy heart and with olive oil, it is enabled to keep blood vessels elastic and supple for good blood flow.
3. For digestion:
Olive oil consumption beneficially alters our gut bacteria enhancing those strains which promote gut and brain health and raise immunity. This enables us to digest and absorb nutrients better as well as heal “leaky- gut” syndrome. Olive oil supports the formation of peptides which aid digestion. Studies have shown that it can even reverse fatty liver and is incredibly beneficial for correct liver function. EVOO corrects gastric acid production, relieving acidity and calming the gut and because we tend to eat slowly if olive oil is present, requires less effort from the pancreas. It also helps to regulate our sense of ‘satiety’, meaning we feel full sooner after eating.
4. Reversal of chronic disease:
Olive oil is one of many functional foods that are capable of switching on and off gene expression. If you smoke, drink alcohol, eat processed foods containing chemicals among other things, you are encouraging the expression of genes that code for disease, i.e. Switching ON. Olive oil turns OFF many of these genes so by consuming it, you can help to program your body to stay in a healthy state. Diabetes and even Cancer, in conjunction with other positive dietary and lifestyle changes, can be reversed. It can prevent age-related macular degeneration, a cause of blindness. Olive oil lowers chronic inflammation in the body through its antioxidants.
5. Pain Management:
Women consuming olive oil regularly have reported a reduction in the intensity of menstrual cramps. In fact, it can help with almost any type of pain including Arthritis. Oleocanthal is a compound found only in the purest Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) which contributes to this benefit. Its action has been compared to that of ibuprofen.
6. Prevention and reversal of neurological conditions and depression:
Regular consumption of olive oil has been linked to lower risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s because it generally lowers inflammation and particularly improves the synaptic integrity of neurons and their pathways. Regular consumption also improved memory and learning in rats.
7. External uses:
Olive oils value in massage is high. Especially massage for pain relief. Olive oil mixed with salt is an old remedy for joint pains and it enhances the youthful appearance of skin. In a study, olive oil applied topically on mice with skin tumours showed regression of these to a significant extent.
Most studies used high quality, EVOO with high phenolic content. By definition, EVOO is cold-pressed and not subjected to heat at any point. This is more expensive but worth it as an investment in health. Look for the International Olive Oil Council stamp on the bottle. An airtight dark glass bottle keeps out damaging sun-rays and oxygen.
Between one - four tablespoons per day, unheated (can’t be used for cooking), raw for maximum benefit. It can be mixed with foods like salads and dips.
It is best to use EVOO or even virgin olive oil among other cold-pressed organic oils like coconut, sesame and mustard oils to get a good balance of essential fatty acids overall. An equal amount of detailed research has been done on these three as well and they have healing properties. The bonus being, they can be heated and hence used for cooking.
Olive oil is easily adulterated and the industry is plagued by even major players resorting to this, we need to check whether our purchase is credible with a simple test…Place the bottle in the fridge for a day. Pure olive oil thickens visibly and becomes cloudy. If no change occurs, then it contains adulterant oils.
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