If olive oil isn’t yet part of your diet, you might want to consider adding it. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats are the healthy fats that could help protect you from heart disease. Olive oil is particularly high in a healthy fat called oleic acid. And olive oil is also rich in phenols. Phenols are thought to be good for the heart.
Researchers have also discovered that olive oil is high in antioxidants. Those are the powerful compounds that fight damaging free radicals. Olive oil is well tolerated by most people. It is easy on the stomach. In fact, olive oil could have a beneficial effect on ulcers and gastritis.
But the health benefits don’t stop there. Now, a research team out of Arizona State University has determined that olive oil could help reduce inflammation. The researchers recruited 90 people aged 55 to 75 for a study. Participants were divided into two groups. One group received 400 mg of freeze-dried olive vegetation water while the other group acted as placebo. The researchers discovered that C- reactive protein (CRP) levels decreased by about 50% in the olive extract group, while CRP levels in the placebo group actually increased. CRP is produced in the liver and is a marker for inflammation.
When buying olive oil, look for high quality extra virgin oil. This is the oil that comes from the first “pressing” of the olive and is extracted without using heat (a cold press) or chemicals. The theory goes that the less olive oil is handled, the closer it is to its natural state and hence the better the oil.
If you are at the grocery store and you see a label that says “light olive oil,” keep in mind that this olive oil is likely a little extra virgin olive oil added to refined olive oil. It is a lesser grade oil that does not have the same health benefits as virgin olive oil.
When storing olive oil, remember that light and heat are the #1 enemies of oil. Keep your olive oil in a cool and dark place, and make sure it is tightly sealed. Olive oil is like other oils and can easily go rancid when exposed to air, light or high temperatures.