Decoding A Superfood: The Health Benefits Of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Tiny but powerful, the olive is full of health properties.

Tiny but powerful! The might olive is chock-full of healthy properties.

At Gourmet Food Store we concentrate mostly on the sensory aspects of food: how it tastes, of course, but also how it feels and looks. We love food because it tastes amazing, but we can’t forget that it’s also meant to nourish our bodies, fuel them, and keep them in tip-top condition. Sometimes, these foods not only are good for you, they also TASTE good! And that is the case of todays’ feature ingredient, that precious, versatile golden liquid, ubiquitous in modern cooking: olive oil. This delicious liquid is what we call a “superfood”. Superfoods are nutrition powerhouses; nourishing the body, giving it tons of energy, but also helping it fight a myriad of diseases and infections.

New health properties of this olive oil are discovered every day, but we rounded up what we thought were the most noteworthy. Find out how olive oil can reduce your risk of heart attack, stave off memory loss, help you lower your cholesterol, and more!  Read on, and next time you drizzle olive oil on your salad, you can pat yourself in the back!

Extra virgin olive oil, health in a bottle.

Two tablespoons a day, keeps the doctor away! Extra virgin olive oil, health in a bottle.

TOP FIVE HEALTH BENEFITS OF OLIVE OIL

Cholesterol Buster
Olive oil is one of the best sources of monounsaturated fats, which play a huge role in bringing down levels of “bad cholesterol” – called Low Density Lipoprotein or LDL. This is the nasty type of cholesterol, the one that causes plaque and blocks arteries. Replacing unhealthy fats with olive oil has been shown to markedly reduce the incidence of LDL, and therefore reducing your chance of cardiovascular diseases.

Blood Pressure Dropper
Several long-range medical studies in Spain and Greece (where olive oil is massively consumed by all age groups) have demonstrated that increased olive oil intakes reduced the incidence of hypertension in both men and women. This is attributed mostly to the polyphenols in olive oil and it’s high oleic content.

Cancer Fighter
A Greek study in 2011 reviewed 19 studies published between 1990 and 2011, to determine what the incidence of cancer was in those patients who followed olive-oil rich diets. The study included a whopping total of 36,000 participants. The results were mind-boggling: those patients with higher olive oil consumption had a lower risk of developing almost ANY type of cancer, and particularly low chances of getting breast and digestive cancer. You can read the full study here: http://www.lipidworld.com/content/10/1/127

Antioxidant Booster
Oxidation is basically aging, the breaking down of red blood cells by free radicals, and antioxidants help prevent that cell breakdown. Antioxidants slow that oxidation process, as they help the body fend off heart disease and memory loss as it ages. Those little polyphenol compounds found in olive oil we’ve been telling you about? Yep, one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants!

Antioxidant Booster
Several studies are now proving that monounsaturated acids, found in high levels in olive oil, are closely associated with improved cognitive function and memory. What does this mean, in layman’s terms? The healthy fats in olive oil help prevent memory loss (the ones that comes with age at least), and also decrease the incidence of age-related brain diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s. According to Harvard University Epidemiologist, Olivia Okereke, “Substituting the good fat in place of the bad fat is a fairly simple dietary modification that could help prevent decline in memory”.

THE DOS & DON’TS OF OLIVE OIL

What kind should I buy?
Extra virgin olive oil (EEOV) has HIGHEST levels of polyphenols, while processed olive oil has none. So always buy high quality extra virgin.

How do I use it?
Keep in mind that high heat cooking will reduce/destroy the polyphenol content of your olive oil, so you’ll lose the health benefits. Try to use it raw when possible.

How do I store it?
Direct light will reduce polyphenol levels in olive oil, so make sure you look for opaque containers, and not clear glass ones.

How much should I use?
While there’s no magic formula as to how much olive oil you should eat, studies seem to indicate that 2 tablespoons a day should be enough to garner its health benefits.

Sources:

Oliveoilsource.com
Oliveoiltimes.com
Helpingyoucare.com
Lipidworld.com/content/10/1/127