The health benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil don’t stop there, however. New positive attributes of EVOO are being discovered regularly. Did you know that it helps boost your immune system, thus protecting against viruses? It’s true! In addition to that, it’s also been found to be very effective in warding off the following diseases:
High Blood Pressure: In recent studies, systolic & diastolic blood pressure has been lowered thanks to the regular consumption of olive oil.
Heart Disease: Heart disease is caused by a buildup of cholesterol, but the consumption of olive oil helps to lower these cholesterol levels- thus decreasing one’s risk for heart disease.
Cancer: There is a phytonutrient, oleocanthal, that is found in olive oil which can reduce inflammation by mimicking the effects of ibuprofen. This has actually been seen to decrease the risk of breast cancer (and its recurrence)! There are currently a few other olive oil components that are being studied for their possible effects on cancer; these components include squalene and lignans.
Diabetes: A diet rich in olive oil has shown to help lower “bad” low-density lipoproteins while improving blood sugar control and enhancing insulin sensitivity. As part of a diet low in saturated fats and moderate in carbohydrates & soluble fiber from fruits, veggies, and grains, olive oil is a healthy addition.
Oxidative Stress: It is well known that olive oil is rich in antioxidants (vitamin E especially) which have long been rumored to minimize one’s risk of cancer. Olive oil is actually very high in monounsaturated fats, the kind that do not oxidize in the body, while also being low in polyunsaturated fats, the kind that do oxidize in the body. This makes olive oil a wonderful addition to a healthy diet.
Osteoporosis: A diet high in olive oil has been shown to improve bone mineralization and calcification. It actually improves calcium absorption, thus playing an important role in aiding current sufferers and in the prevention of the onset of osteoporosis in others.
The polyphenols (antioxidants) that are found naturally in olive oil play a prominent role in the various health benefits attributed to olive oil. Of course, not all olive oils contain the same polyphenol content, which is determined by a number of factors. These factors include:
Olive Varietal: They variety of olive used to produce the oil determins the polyphenol count of the oil itself. For example, Koreneiki olives have a very high polyphenol count and Arbequina’s have a very low count.
Time of Picking: Oil produced from unripe (green) olives will be richer in polyphenols than oil produced from the same olives that have been allowed to reach maturity.
Environmental Factors: Things such as altitude, irrigation, and cultivation all have an impact on polyphenol counts.
Extraction Conditions: Polyphenols are lost when techniques meant to enhance yield are utilized. Things such as adding water, heating the paste, and increasing malaxation time mean your oil will contain less polyphenols.
Storage Containers: The longer an oil sits the less polyphenols it will have. Storing your olive oil in the right container will extend your oil’s life and keep the polyphenols from oxidizing too quickly.