Nutrition Articles

Five BIG Reasons Olive Oil Is One of The Healthiest Foods on The Planet

by Poliquin Group™ Editorial Staff
2/14/2012 4:22:45 PM
Olive oil is one of the healthiest cooking oils available because it is packed with nutrients and antioxidants.
High-quality extra virgin olive oil will help you live a longer healthier life.
But olive oil fraud is a widespread problem that affects between 60 and 90 percent of olive oil on the market, meaning you may not be getting what you pay for!

A recent report from the University of California at Davis Olive Institute found that  more than half the olive oil on the market is poor quality and not actually “extra virgin.” Rather, it may be doctored with cheaper oils such as soybean or hazelnut, or it may be poor quality and made from overripe or rotting olives. This “sham” olive oil won’t provide health benefits and may actually do you harm!

Here are the top five reasons to make sure your olive oil is really extra virgin. 

1)    The Olive is A Fruit Making Its Oil Unique
The olive is a fruit, making olive oil a unique fat because it is not derived from a vegetable or an animal. It is considered a stone fruit, like a plum or cherry, and is made using a simple hydraulic press, similar to fresh-squeezed fruit juices rather than industrial fats. In contrast, most vegetable oils are extracted in a refinery using solvents, heat, and intense pressure.

Olive oil that is extracted carefully and retains the “extra virgin” qualities is packed with antioxidants in the form of polyphenols and sterols, and vitamins such as E and K.
Olive oil also contains one of the highest levels of CoQ10, an antioxidant that is known to be highly effective at protecting the heart and fighting chronic inflammation. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated and omega-6 fats. It contains a very small amount of the omega-3 fat alpha linolenic acid. 

2)    The Health Benefits of Olive Oil Are Well Known
Studies show that a Mediterranean diet that is rich in extra virgin olive oil may help prevent heart disease, lower blood pressure, improve glucose metabolism, and counter inflammation and oxidative stress. Additionally, olive oil has been shown to have protective effects against age-related cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease , and breast and prostate cancers.
For example, a new study in the journal Neurological Research found that oleuropein, which is one of the antioxidants in olive oil, can decrease inflammation in the brain and spinal cord after a traumatic injury by inhibiting the production of oxidative stress biomarkers. Researchers consider this antioxidant to have neuroprotective effects.

3)    Olive Oil Improves Insulin Health and Prevents Diabetes
A new study found that giving type 2 diabetics a diet rich in fat from olive oil rather than one high in saturated animal fats will improve insulin sensitivity, lower oxidative stress, and result in less C-reactive protein. This evidence shows diets with a greater proportion of olive oil may prevent atherosclerosis, heart disease, and diabetes. It also has implications for fighting obesity and supporting metabolism.

Similar results were seen when researchers compared the effects of extra virgin olive oil, sunflower oil, and canola oil in a breakfast muffin on inflammatory status and insulin health. The olive oil muffin produced the lowest insulin response and lowest level of bioactive inflammatory compounds compared to the other two oil-based muffins.

4)    Olive Oil Thought To Prevent Breast and Prostate Cancer
The list of health benefits linked to the olive go on and on, but it’s worth mentioning that scientists are very interested in how olive oil can help prevent breast and prostate cancer by minimizing oxidative stress, altering hormonal status in a favorable way, and modifying the structure and function of cell membranes.
Additionally, the antioxidants in olives have been shown to modulate cell signaling and regulate gene expression to support immunity and prevent the development of cancer.

5)    Think of Extra Virgin Olive Oil As A Supplement: Put The Best In Your Body
A high quality olive oil is essential to get these health benefits, and just as you know the value of sourcing and paying for top quality supplements, extra virgin olive oil appears to be a similar item. Get the best to get the benefits, and it’s essential that you find a producer you trust.
A few ways to ensure you have authentic olive oil are the following: 
  • develop a taste for authentic high-qualtiy olive oil by taking a class in flavor variations.
  • buy brands that are certified by an organization you trust such as the California Olive Oil Council.
  • do a refrigerator test--if you put your olive oil in the refrigerator and it doesn't solidify, it is probably blended with other oils.
One last bit of advice for sourcing authentic extra virgin olive oil is if you purchase a bottle, get it home and have any doubts due to taste or the refrigerator test mentioned above, return it. Whether you want to make a fuss is an individual choice, but there’s no reason to pay for poor quality, adulterated oil that will do more harm than good.