Why is extra virgin olive oil the healthiest fat in the world?

Fats in the diet are very controversial.

You will see people discussing animal fats, seed oils and almost everything in the middle.

But one of the few fats that most people in agreement The extra virgin olive oil is healthy.

This oil, which is part of the Mediterranean diet, is a traditional fat that has been a staple food for some of the healthiest populations in the world.

Actually, there is a lot of research behind the effects of olive oil on health.

These studies show that fatty acids and antioxidants have some powerful health benefits, such as a reduced risk of heart disease.

What is olive oil and how is it made?

Olive oil is oil that is extracted from olives, the fruits of the olive tree.

The process is incredibly simple … just press the olives and the oil comes out.

But there is still a major problem with olive oil … It is not always what you think it is. Some lower quality versions can be extracted with chemicals, or can even be diluted with other cheaper oils.

Therefore, buying the right. kind Olive oil is incredibly important.

The best type is extra virgin olive oil. It is extracted using natural methods and is standardized for purity and certain sensory qualities such as taste and smell.

Olive oil that is really extra virgin has a distinctive flavor and is high in phenolic antioxidants, the main reason why (real) olive oil is so beneficial.

Then we have regular, refined or "light" olive oils, which are often extracted with solvents, treated with heat or even diluted with cheaper oils such as soybean and canola oils.

For this reason, the only The type I recommend is extra virgin olive oil.

But keep in mind that there is a lot of fraud in the olive oil market and that it is essential to buy from a reputable seller. Even the oil labeled "extra virgin" may have been adulterated with cheaper oils.

If you want to read more about olive oil fraud and what you can do to find real extra virgin olive oil, read this article.

Bottom line: The true "extra virgin" olive oil is 100% natural and very rich in antioxidants. Many of the lower quality olive oils have been processed and adulterated with cheaper oils.

Nutrient Composition of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil is quite nutritious.

It contains modest amounts of vitamins E and K and many beneficial fatty acids.

This is the nutrient content of 100 grams of olive oil (1):

  • Saturated fat: 13.8%
  • Monosaturated fat: 73% (mostly 18-carbon oleic acid).
  • Omega-6: 9.7%
  • Omega 3: 0.76%.
  • Vitamin E: 72% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin K: 75% of the RDA.

But where the extra virgin olive oil Really Shine is in its antioxidant content.

These substances are biologically active and some of them can help fight serious diseases (2, 3).

Some of the main antioxidants are the oleocanthal anti-inflammatory, as well as oleuropein, a substance that protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation (4, 5).

Some people have criticized olive oil for having a high ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 (more than 10: 1), but keep in mind that the total amount of polyunsaturated fats is still relatively low, so this does not It should be a cause for concern.

Bottom line: Olive oil is very high in monounsaturated fats and contains a modest amount of vitamins E and K. The real extra virgin olive oil is full of antioxidants, some of which have powerful health benefits.

Extra virgin olive oil contains anti-inflammatory substances

It is believed that chronic inflammation is one of the main drivers of many diseases.

This includes heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, Alzheimer's and arthritis.

It has been speculated that one of the mechanisms behind the benefits of olive oil is its ability to fight inflammation.

There is some evidence that oleic acid, the most prominent fatty acid in olive oil, can reduce inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein (6, 7).

But the main anti-inflammatory effects seem to be mediated by antioxidants in olive oil, mainly oleocanthal, which has been shown to work like ibuprofen, a popular anti-inflammatory drug (8, 9).

Researchers estimate that the amount of oleocanthal in 50 ml (approximately 3.4 tablespoons) of extra virgin olive oil has an effect similar to 10% of the adult dose of ibuprofen for pain relief (10).

There is also a study that shows that substances in olive oil can reduce the expression of genes and proteins that mediate inflammation (11).

Keep in mind that low-level chronic inflammation is usually mild and takes years or decades to harm.

Eating a lot of extra virgin olive oil can help prevent this from happening, which reduces the risk of several inflammatory diseases … especially heart disease.

Bottom line: Olive oil contains oleic and oleocanthic acid, nutrients that can fight inflammation. This may be the main reason for the health benefits of olive oil.

Extra virgin olive oil seems to be protective against cardiovascular diseases

Cardiovascular diseases (heart disease and stroke) are the most common causes of death in the world (12).

Many observational studies show that death from these diseases is low in certain areas of the world, especially in the countries around the Mediterranean Sea (13).

This observation originally stimulated interest in the Mediterranean diet, which is supposed to mimic the way people eat in these countries (14).

Studies on the Mediterranean diet show that it can help prevent heart disease. In one major study, it reduced heart attacks, strokes and death by 30% (15).

Extra virgin olive oil protects against heart disease through numerous mechanisms (16):

  • Reduction of inflammation: As mentioned earlier, olive oil protects against inflammation, a key driver of heart disease (17, 18).
  • LDL cholesterol: Olive oil protects LDL particles from oxidative damage, a key step in the process of heart disease (19).
  • Improves endothelial function: Olive oil improves the function of the endothelium, which is the lining of blood vessels (20, 21).
  • Blood clotting: Some studies suggest that olive oil may help prevent unwanted blood coagulation, key features of heart attacks and strokes (22, 23).
  • Low blood pressure: A study in patients with high blood pressure found that olive oil significantly reduced blood pressure and reduced the need for medications for blood pressure by 48% (24).

Given the known biological effects of olive oil, it is not surprising to see that people who consume most of it have a significantly lower chance of dying from heart attacks and strokes (25, 26).

This really is just the tip of the iceberg. Dozens (if not hundreds) of studies in both animals and humans have shown that olive oil has important benefits for the heart.

Personally, I think the evidence is strong enough to recommend that people who have heart disease or have a high risk of getting it (for example, family history) should make sure to include a lot of extra virgin olive oil in your diets.

Bottom line: Olive oil can be one of the healthiest foods you can eat for heart health. It reduces blood pressure, protects LDL particles from oxidation, reduces inflammation and can help prevent unwanted blood clotting.

Other health benefits of extra virgin olive oil

Although studied primarily for its effects on heart health, the consumption of olive oil has also been associated with a number of health benefits.

Olive oil and cancer

Cancer is a common cause of death, characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells in the body.

Studies have shown that people in Mediterranean countries have a fairly low risk of cancer and some have speculated that olive oil has something to do with it (27).

A possible contributor to cancer is oxidative damage due to free radicals, but extra virgin olive oil has a high content of antioxidants that reduce oxidative damage (28, 29).

Oleic acid in olive oil is also highly resistant to oxidation and has been shown to have beneficial effects on genes related to cancer (30, 31).

Many studies in test tubes have shown that compounds in olive oil can help fight cancer at the molecular level (32, 33, 34).

Whether olive oil actually helps prevent cancer has not yet been studied in human-controlled trials.

Olive oil and Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer's disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease in the world and one of the main causes of dementia.

A characteristic of Alzheimer's disease is an accumulation of matted proteins called beta-amyloid plaques, in certain neurons of the brain.

A study in mice showed that a substance in olive oil can help eliminate these brain plaques (35).

A controlled trial with humans showed that a Mediterranean diet enriched with olive oil had favorable effects on brain function and reduced the risk of cognitive deterioration (36).

Bottom line: There is preliminary evidence that olive oil may help fight cancer and Alzheimer's disease, although this should be confirmed in controlled trials in humans.

Can you cook with it?

During cooking, fatty acids can oxidize. That is, they react with oxygen and get damaged.

It is especially the double bonds in the fatty acid molecules that are responsible for this.

For this reason, saturated fats (without double bonds) are resistant to high heat, while polytechnic schoolUnsaturated fats (many double bonds) are sensitive and damaged.

It turns out that olive oil, which contains mostly monkeyThe unsaturated fatty acids (only one double bond), are actually quite resistant to heat.

In one study, researchers heated extra virgin olive oil to 180 degrees Celsius (356 degrees Fahrenheit) for 36 hours. The oil was highly resistant to damage (37).

Another study used olive oil for frying, and it took between 24 and 27 hours to reach levels of damage that were considered harmful (38).

In general, olive oil seems to be very safe … even for cooking at a fairly high heat.

Bring the message home

Olive oil is super healthy.

For people with heart disease or with a high risk of getting it in the future, olive oil is definitely a "superfood".

However … it is extremely important to get the right things. That is, extra virgin olive oil that has not been diluted with cheaper oils.

The benefits of this wonderful fat are some of the few things that most people in nutrition agree with. Now that's something you do not see often.

Reference: https: //www.healthline.com/nutrition/extra-virgin-olive-oil


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