A Closer Look at Olive Oil Health Benefits

bottle of bertolli extra virgin olive oil

Searching for olive oil health benefits?

Of all the healthy oils, olive oil is probably the most popular. It got its origins thousands of years ago in Armenia and Turkistan before reaching the Mediterranean.

Olive oil’s health benefits are due to its unique combination of fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. And with the growing awareness of the health benefits from consuming a Mediterranean Diet, this natural healthy oil is more popular than ever before.

When we take a closer look at the actual ingredients found in olive oils, you will find that they are not like other vegetable oils, such as corn or sunflower seed oils.

ingredient label from bottle of virgin olive oil

Ingredient Label from Virgin Olive Oil

All virgin olive oils will contain the following ingredients:,/p>

  1. Saturated Fats – contains palmitic acid, stearic acid, arachidic acid, behenic acid, myristic acid and lignoceric acid.
  2. Mono-unsaturated Fats – makes up almost 80% of the total fat content in olive oil and contains high amounts of oleic acid, as well as small amounts of palmitoleic acid.
  3. Polyunsaturated Fats – contains the Omega-6 fatty acid, linoleic acid and the Omega-3 fatty acid, linolenic acid.
  4. Vitamin E and K – though not listed on this label of Bertolli olive oil, you may get trace amounts of these vitamins in your olive oil, depending on the brand.

 

6 Health Benefits of Olive Oil

The unique combination of active ingredients found in virgin olive oils can offer many health benefits to us.

Here’s a brief summary of health benefits from virgin olive oils:

1. Protects your body from free radical damage:

  • Your cell membranes contain fatty acids that can be exposed to free radical damage. One of the primary olive oil health benefits is due to substances called polyphenols.

  • These nutrients appear to have antimicrobial action, reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterols, reduce inflammation and improve platelet and cellular function.

  • You can also get polyphenols from the skins of fruits and vegetables, berries and certain teas – all food items recommended to help lower your risk for disease.

  • This oil contains vitamin E, an antioxidant which can reduce your risk for oxidative cell damage.

2. Helps to lower your blood pressure:

  • Studies show the oleic acid in olive oil may help lower high blood pressure, reducing your risk for strokes and heart attack.

3. May help reduce risk for bleeding disorders:

  • The vitamin K plays an important role in helping your blood clot. A deficiency in Vitamin K (though rare) may lead to anemia, bruising, heavy menstrual bleeding and nosebleeds.

  • Vitamin K is also found in leafy green veggies, such as broccoli and spinach, with kale containing the highest amounts.

4. Reduce your risk for Cancer and Stroke

  • A recent study from the Catalan Institute of Oncology from the University of Granada in Spain showed phytochemicals in extra-virgin olive oil can actually protect the body from breast cancer.

  • And a another study in the June 15, 2011 issue of Neurology suggests people that regularly used olive oil for cooking and salad dressing had a 41% lower risk of stroke compared to those that didn’t consume the healthy oil.

5. Use as an Olive Oil Hair Conditioner

  • If you’re looking for an easy and effective way to nourish and moisturize your hair, you can use olive oils as natural hair conditioners.

  • Some people apply olive oil directly to their hair after shampooing – leave it in for a few minutes and then rinse out. Others take it one step further by covering the hair in plastic and leaving the oil in the hair overnight before rinsing the following day.

6. Using Olive Oil for Healthier Skin Care

  • Want to know the beauty secret for many Mediterranean women? Many Italian women have used olive oil as a natural skin moisturizer to soften and prevent wrinkles.

  • But there’s much more to this healthy oil that just that.You can use this oil for natural skin care to prevent chapped lips, effectively remove make-up and soften dry rough patches of skin.

 

Research References:

Olive Oil Health Benefits and Cardiovascular Health. Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology 2009 Oct

Bioavailability and antioxidant effects of olive oil phenolic compounds in humans: a review. Lipids and Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Unit, Institut Municipal d’Investigacio Medica (IMIM), Barcelona, Spain. Ann Ist Super Sanita. 2007;43(4):375-81.

Chemistry and health of olive oil phenolics. Cicerale S, Conlan XA, Sinclair AJ, Keast RS. School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, Victoria, Australia. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2009 Mar;49(3):218-36.

Oleic acid content is responsible for the reduction in blood pressure induced by olive oil. Proceedings of the Nat’l Academy of Sciences of the U S A. 2008 Sep 16;105(37):13811-6. Terés S, Barceló-Coblijn G, Benet M, Alvarez R, Bressani R, Halver JE, Escribá PV.

 

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Author Details
Kevin is a full-time blogger with a passion for functional, whole food nutrition. A former Registered Respiratory Therapist with over 25 years experience in Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine, he also has additional training as a Certified Natural Products Advisor. He enjoys a vibrant lifestyle that includes healthy foods, workouts focusing on core strength with flexibility and longboarding to stay fit and agile.