The numerous health benefits of olive oil have been known by Mediterranean cultures for thousands
of years. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, prescribed olive oil for curing ulcers, cholera, muscular pain, nausea, skin disorders and gum inflammation. In biblical times, olive oil was used in the treatment of leprosy. The ancient Egyptians and Romans infused olive oil with flowers and herbs as an ointment for cuts, bruises, sores and other injuries.
Modern researchers have verified these ancient remedies and have discovered many more. The health possibilities of extra virgin olive oil seem to be endless, as shown by the list below. For a more in-depth understanding of these health benefits, we recommend that you search the many excellent websites available on the Internet.
HEART DISEASE- Since as early as the 1950s, research such as the Seven Countries Study conducted by the American Professor Ancel Keys has linked a low incidents of heart disease to the Mediterranean diet. The primary fat in this diet is olive oil which contains high levels of mono- and polyunsaturated fats that lower levels of LDLs (associated with high cholesterol) without reducing HDL levels (associated with low cholesterol). Olive oil contains no trans fatty acids and is high in beneficial Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE AND STROKES- Clinical data shows that olive oil can have anti-inflammatory and vasodilatory effects which help the heart and blood vessels. Olive oil contains large quantities of polyphenols (oleic acid) which improves the elasticity of of arterial walls and reduces vascular stress, thus aiding in high blood pressure and the possibility of having a stroke. CANCER- Olive oil is high in antioxidants, substances that neutralize chemicals that enter our bodies through our diet and environment and damage our cells. Studies show that these antioxidants, particularly those found in olive oil, are effective against skin cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer and breast cancer. In a European study, polyphenols found in olive oil were shown to reduce leukemia cells. DIABETES- Since olive oil supports HDL levels, lowers triglycerides and helps monitor blood sugar, it can discourage the onset of diabetes. ARTHRITIS- A Mediterranean diet in which most fat comes from olive oil is associated with a reduction of inflammation, increased physical function and improved vitality in those with rheumatoid arthritis. PAIN- Olive oil contains a natural chemical called oleocanthal which a U.S. study found inhibits inflammation and reduces pain similar to the drug ibuprofen. LONGEVITY- The powerful antioxidants in olive oil slow down the deterioration of our cells and decrease skin aging. It is also said that olive oil counteracts memory loss, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. OTHER REMEDIES- Other common medicinal uses of olive oil include regenerating skin cells, ingesting as a laxative, moisturizing the skin, treating the scalp and minimizing the effects of sunburn.
The evidence of olive oil’s health benefits is overwhelming. Olive oil protects us from the harmful effects of our polluted environment and a poor quality diet. And it is important to remember that we will only fully realize these benefits if we are using “extra virgin olive oil”, which is extracted from olives using strictly mechanical means, instead of lower grades of olive oil which are made using heat and chemicals that damage its nutritious qualities.