Health Benefits of Olive Oil

 

Belief systems in many cultures shifts like the wind. A more recent strongly upheld belief is that all fats or oils are bad, causing diets to shift to “no fat”. But is that really a good idea? Let’s take a closer look and see if we may not have swung to far in one direction or another. What we want is to find a balance.  It is unquestionably true that there are bad fats that should be avoided if you are interested in optimal health. Creating optimal health is what brought you here in the first place. This is a perfect start then.

Let’s not dwell on the “bad fats” for to long, but just so you will have an idea of just what you should avoid here is a bit of info. Bad fats are “saturated” or “trans” fats that can increase the risk of heart disease and increase your cholesterol levels. To give you a visual of what these fats look like, they tend to be solid at room temperature. Examples would be butter, the fat on your steak, the skin on chicken, cheese and lard are a few. Saturated and trans fats can be found in ice cream, candy bars, fried foods, commercially packed pastries and such. So you get the idea, not particularly what would we call good food choices.

But are there good fats? Absolutely!

Our body’s must have fats in order to function properly. We need fats for proper brain and nerve function. The Myelin Sheath which wraps nerves is partly made of fat and helps with electrical messaging. Our brain is made of a large percentage of fat. Good fats help maintain healthy skin and other tissues. We need healthy fats in order to not only produce energy but to store energy as well. Fatty acids from fats are crucial for growth development and the proper functioning of cells. Our bodies do not produce these fatty acids on their own, we need to consume them. Good fats also transport fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K throughout our bodies by way of the blood stream. So as you can see there is very good reason to not avoid fats across the board.

Olive oil is one of the “good fats” and is one of our favorites, in fact it is our very favorite oil for cooking. The health benefits of olive oil are enormous. In a published study from the New England Journal of Medicine it was found that consuming more than 4 TBLS of olive oil per day can significantly lower your risk of a heart attack, suffering a stroke or dying of heart disease.

According to the Mayo Clinic olive oil is high in monounsaturated fat or MUFA. MUFAs can lower your cholesterol and help to maintain healthy insulin levels. By the way MUFAs can also be found in avocados, nuts and fatty fish.

Olive oil is also full of a very powerful antioxidant group, polyphenols. Antioxidants help to protect your cells from damage done by free radicals. There is research being done on the effects of polyphenols on bone health, as well as digestive health. They are also looking into how these polyphenols may help prevent cancer. AND, there is research being done on how these polyphenols may improve cognitive function.

Unfortunately, not every olive oil you purchase may have these health benefits. There are companies producing inferior olive oil, produced with chemicals and artificial coloring. In order to receive the most significant health benefits, we recommend that you only use Certified Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

You want an olive oil that has been cold pressed, essentially means it has been physically crushed or squeezed causing it to release its oil. Like with all other oils when it has been modified, having compounds either added or missing you will lose many of the health benefits you were looking for in the first place as you nourish your body.

How you store your olive oil is important too. Look for your Extra Virgin Olive oil to come in a dark bottle, usually green or other container that will keep the light out. Heat and light are the enemy of all oils, including olive oil. Store your olive oil in a cupboard that will maintain room temperature, so above your stove or oven would not be a good place. You can put it in your refrigerator if you like.

You should be able to store your olive oil for about a year. After that it will begin to lose its taste and many of the health benefits. For us, that is never an issue. If a bottle of olive oil lasts more than 4 weeks in our homes, we have either been on vacation or eating out more than usual.

There are also many benefits to olive oil beyond just eating it. While not my favorite oil to use on my body, many love it in beauty products, for conditioning the hair and for moisturizing the skin. It is a much better option than the toxic and chemical filled personal care products you will find at your local pharmacy of beauty counter. Remember, that what goes on you, goes in you.

In Pursuit of Good Health ~ Enjoy!

FDA Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. The recommendations above are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

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