Just what can olive oil do for you? The main monounsaturated fat found in olive oil, oleic acid, has been found to reduce high blood pressure, which means it can protect you against stroke. In fact, several studies have shown that people who consume lots of olive oil have a lower incidence of stroke.
The oil is also an excellent source of vitamin E, which is a potent antioxidant. It contains polyphenols and can help fight the free radicals that damage cells while stemming unwanted inflammation throughout the body. It can also help protect your liver from damage and oxidative stress.
Perhaps some of its most exciting benefits, however, relate to some of the biggest health issues facing our time – specifically cancer and dementia. Reviews of studies have found that people with high intakes of olive oil were 34 per cent less likely to develop any type of cancer – especially breast cancer – than those with the lowest intake of olive oil. The antioxidant action of polyphenols is believed to be behind this benefit.
Studies have also shown that it can improve your brain function, especially in areas like memory and learning. This means it could be a good way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and similar degenerative diseases related to cognition.
It’s also a useful tool in the fight against heart disease. In areas where olive oil is a culinary staple, the population shows lower rates of stroke and heart disease compared to other regions. It helps to promote good cholesterol and can even help to manage your levels of blood sugar, thereby lowering your risk of diabetes.
It is also great for your skin thanks to its high vitamin E content. You can use olive oil to treat dry skin and inflammation, and it can even help prevent psoriasis. It also offers benefits to your hair, making it a simple and affordable way to keep your tresses moisturized and looking healthy. You can apply it directly to your skin as a moisturizer and brush it through your hair, or consider mixing it with ingredients like sugar to create a scrub for dry skin.
Experts say that eating one tablespoon of this oil per day is ideal. However, it is important to be aware that this amount of oil contains 100 calories, which is something to keep in mind if you’re watching your caloric intake. If that’s the case, you might want to use olive oil as a replacement for other fats you normally use. For example, you might start tossing your popcorn with olive oil instead of butter.
For maximum health benefits, you should choose extra virgin olive oil. It may cost more, but it is the purest variety thanks to its lack of processing. It’s best to enjoy it raw – for example, by drizzling it over vegetables or salad.
Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that you need to adhere to a healthy diet overall. Adding a tablespoon of olive oil to a diet of junk, sugar and fast food isn’t the way to good health, and exercise remains an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Nevertheless, it’s a small change you can make to your diet that can have a very big impact on your health.
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