Today, olive oil is one of the most often used and recommended oils in the kitchen, but olive oil has been used and revered for centuries, dating back to antiquity. Olive oil was prized for the Greeks in ancient times and was an important commodity in their culture and economy.
Olive oil is, unsurprisingly, extracted from olives. There are three primary types of olive oil; extra virgin, virgin, and refined. Extra virgin olive oil is the least refined before it is bottled and has the most intense flavor of the three varieties. Refined olive oil has a more mellow flavor, but the refining process can give refined olive oil a higher smoke point, which can be beneficial for high heat cooking.
Extra virgin olive oil, however, is going to be richest in the nutrients that are beneficial for health. The more refined the olive oil, the fewer health benefits it is likely to promote.
Today we know that olive oil is not only delicious and useful in the kitchen, but consuming extra virgin olive oil is associated with a number of health benefits. Compounds in extra virgin olive oil are known to do a few things:
- Olive oil is known to promote heart health. It does this in a few ways. Compounds in olive oil are known to help lower blood pressure and prevent hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). Regularly consuming olive oil in lieu of other oils is known to promote healthy cholesterol levels. Eating olive oil is associated with a lower risk of stroke and heart attack.
- Olive oil is rich in antioxidants that are known to fight inflammation. This has benefits for all of us, but particularly those who suffer chronic pain, such as arthritis sufferers might benefit from including olive oil in their diet. Over the long term, olive oil’s anti-inflammatory properties can also be preventative for many different types of diseases.
- Olive oil consumption is associated with a reduced risk of multiple cancers, including prevention of breast and colorectal cancer.
- Olive oil is thought to have many benefits for the brain, including supporting health memory and brain function, and mood boosting properties.
- Olive oil has many other associated benefits, including supporting the immune system, bone health, supporting healthy blood sugar levels, and assisting with weight loss.
One often overlooked property of olive oil is its ability to support healthy gut microbiome. These are the beneficial bacteria that perform many important tasks in our body. Namely, when these colonies of bacteria are healthy, they help keep pathogenic fungi and yeasts at bay. Olive oil also contains some anti-fungal an anti-yeast properties too.
Consuming olive oil raw is one of the best ways to get the associated benefits. This can be on salads or over vegetables. Cooking with olive oil is a good option too, particularly if your are using it lieu of oils that are not on The Kaufmann Diet, such as peanut oil, vegetable oil, or corn oil.
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