Olive oil has been around for centuries and offers many benefits and few side effects. It can be used for cooking, housekeeping and as a personal beauty or health supplement. Daily intake of the right type of olive oil will even help prevent heart disease and can lower your risk of colon cancer.
Olives are pressed to yield olive oil. The oil retains all the vitamins and nutrients of the olive, because it does not need processing. Once oil is pressed from the olive, it can be ingested as is.
Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants. The oil also contains high-density lipoproteins (HDLs) that are vital in controlling low-density lipoproteins (LDLs). LDLs raise your cholesterol level and can be harmful to your health, but HDLs keep these levels in check.
Because olive oil is so vital in controlling cholesterol, it is an excellent food to help prevent heart disease. Swallowing just 2 tbsp. of virgin olive oil each day for one week can noticeably reduce your cholesterol. By lowering your cholesterol, you can also reduce your blood pressure and your risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers have also found that olive oil can be very useful in reducing your risk of colon, breast and skin cancers. A diet supplemented with olive oil can be just as effective as a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
Olive oil may also aid in digestion, relieve constipation, prevent hair loss, moisturize skin and promote healthy nail growth.
Olive oil can also be a useful tool around the home. Olive oil rubbed into stainless steel pans can help prevent streaking or tarnishing on the pots and acts as a natural conditioner for the metal. Olive oil with a bit of vinegar and citrus juice acts as a substitute for wooden furniture polish. If you have a stuck zipper, simply dab olive oil on the teeth and work the zipper down. Adding 1 tsp. olive oil to your cat’s food will also help prevent hairballs and give it a shiny coat.
The only negative effect of olive oil, unless you are allergic to it, is that it can cause mild diarrhea if large amounts are ingested. But this can also be beneficial, as it acts as a natural laxative if you are constipated.
However, if you are taking medications for diabetes or blood pressure, decrease your intake of olive oil. Olive oil reduces blood sugar and blood pressure. If you are taking medications for this and ingesting olive oil at the same time, your blood sugar and pressure may go too low, causing complications.
The Best Type of Olive Oil
Many types of olive oil are available—extra light, light, virgin and extra virgin. The light oils are generally more processed and have less of the original nutrients in them. The virgin oils are oils straight from fresh pressed olives. Extra virgin means the olive was pressed once, and virgin means it was pressed twice. Extra virgin will always have more nutrients and more benefits for your health. Always buy organic olive oil if possible.