When it comes to diet, olive oil is often considered to be one of the healthiest oils.
It’s been a part of the Mediterranean diet for centuries and it’s partly what gives this diet its glowing reputation.
Olive oil is made from the ripe fruits of the olive tree (Olea europaea), traditionally found in the Mediterranean region which is its largest manufacturer.
Nowadays, the olive tree is cultivated all around the world, as more and more people enjoy its fruity taste and are becoming aware of its many health benefits.
But what makes olive oil so healthy?
A review recently published in the journal Foods answers this question.
Olive oil is abundant in health-promoting bioactive compounds.
Depending on the level of processing, olive oil can be refined, virgin, or extra virgin.
Extra virgin olive oil is the least processed, and thus the healthiest - it’s the natural juice of olives with the lowest acidity value.
Olive oil is mostly composed of triglycerides (fats) and minor compounds.
It has a high content of monounsaturated fatty acids, especially oleic acid (65-83%), and some polyunsaturated fatty acids, like linoleic acid.
Olive oil is also rich in antioxidants, giving it an ability to neutralize free radicals that cause oxidative damage in the body.
Let’s see the details.
Olive oil has a good balance between the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which sets it apart from the other kinds of oils.
Its lipid content is unique in that it has high levels of oleic acid, which gives olive oil most of its health benefits.
Oleic acid lowers cholesterol and it can reduce inflammation in the body, as well as the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Olive oil is also rich in polyphenols and carotenoids, which make it a strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial agent.
Olive oil is associated with a lowered risk of diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.
Often dubbed as “liquid gold”, olive oil has not lost its glittering reputation for centuries, and it’s only gaining more attention.
In short, olive oil is one of the best oils you can include in your diet without worrying about it harming your health.
On the contrary, it can be very beneficial.
Resource: Jimenez-Lopez, C.; Carpena, M.; Lourenço-Lopes, C.; Gallardo-Gomez, M.; Lorenzo, J.M.; Barba, F.J.; Prieto, M.A.; Simal-Gandara, J. Bioactive Compounds and Quality of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Foods 2020, 9, 1014. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/foods9081014