Olive oil is a vegetable oil obtained from the extraction and processing of seeds from the fruits of the Olea europaea plant. It is native to the Middle East and was first introduced to Europe in Andalusia in the 7th century thanks to the Phoenicians.
Due to its nutritional properties and its exquisite flavor, the main use of olive oil is for culinary purposes. However, studies have also confirmed benefits for the skin as well as potential uses as an anti-inflammatory agent, it could even help prevent certain types of neurodegenerative diseases.
Properties, benefits and uses
Some benefits of olive oil are attributed to the presence of oleic acid. This molecule is considered capable of preventing cardiovascular diseases, repairing the skin, and has potential properties as a treatment for some types of infections. (1)
The nutritional properties and benefits of using olive oil are:
1. High in vitamin E content
Olive oil is one of the highest oils in vitamin E. Compared to other oils such as sunflower oil, olive oil has a content of up to almost double of this essential micronutrient. (4)
2. Increase good cholesterol (HDL)
Olive oil is a food high in healthy fats. There are several studies that have confirmed that one of the benefits of including this food every day is to increase good cholesterol and therefore improve total cholesterol levels. As for lowering bad cholesterol, studies are not yet conclusive. (3,4)
3. Low glycemic index
Like any other oil, olive oil has a low glycemic index. For this reason, this food is allowed for people with disorders in carbohydrate metabolism such as type 2 diabetes.
4. Improve skin health
One of the properties of olive oil is to improve the health of the skin. Oleic acid is able to reduce the inflammation typical of infections, eczema and other skin disorders. (1)
5. Hormonal balance
Monounsaturated fatty acids are essential for the synthesis of sex hormones such as testosterone and estrogens. Including olive oil in meals is a way to stimulate the natural production of these hormones. (5)
6. Memory and cognitive functions
Although there are still studies to confirm the benefits of olive oil on the nervous system. Some studies suggest that it may improve cognitive functions and prevent Alzheimer’s in the long term. (5.6)
7. As an anti-inflammatory
Oleocanthal, a molecule with unique properties of olive oil, can not only act as a neuroprotective, but also as an anti-inflammatory. In fact, studies suggest that extracts of this molecule can be used as a treatment for inflammation-related diseases of the body. (6)
Is it ideal to fry with olive oil?
Olive oil can be used both for frying and added raw. The main problem with frying is the significant loss of some nutritional properties such as vitamin E. By frying and bringing the oil to high temperatures (> 180 ° C), up to 50% of the vitamin E can be destroyed in a matter of 30 minutes.
The vitamin E withstands temperatures up to about 170 ° C. Furthermore, it can be slowly degraded by the action of the sun and air. Some oils like olive oil can lose up to 20-30% of their vitamin E content in a few weeks. (7)
To get the benefits of olive oil, it must be stored in a cool, dry place in dark glass containers protected against UV rays.
Olive oil and Mediterranean diet
Olive oil is one of the main ingredients in the Mediterranean diet. This diet is one of the best in terms of nutritional properties, in addition to its long-term health benefits.
Some of the benefits of the Mediterranean diet are directly related to the use of olive oil. For example, research from more than 10 European countries found an association between a reduction in obesity rates and people who followed this diet. (8)
Olive oil is a vegetable oil used for gastronomic purposes for more than 6000 years. There are at least four types: virgin, extra virgin, lampante and refined.
Recent studies have confirmed medicinal properties of some of its compounds such as oleocanthal. A potential raw material for treatments of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
To obtain the benefits of olive oil and avoid the loss of vitamin E, it is recommended not to fry it, store it in a dry, dark container and away from light.
- An Overview of the Modulatory Effects of Oleic Acid in Health and Disease. Source
- Olive oil and cardiovascular health. Source
- New formulation of olive Oil and vitamine E – Source
- Effect of Argan and Olive Oil Consumption on the Hormonal Profile of Androgens Among Healthy Adult Moroccan Men Source
- Olive-Oil-Derived Oleocanthal Enhances β-Amyloid Clearance as a Potential Neuroprotective Mechanism against Alzheimer’s Disease: In Vitro and in Vivo Studies. Source
- Effects of Temperature and UV Light on Degradation of -Tocopherol in Free and Dissolved Form. Source
- The health benefits of Mediterranean diet. Source