Olive oil health benefits

You don’t have to look too far to fine a lot of articles touting olive oil health benefits.  From the Mayo clinic, to WebMD, and there’s even an Olive Wellness Institute.  These and seemingly thousands of other sites loudly proclaim the health benefits of olive oil so there must be something to it, right?  Who are we to argue? Consider the fact that countries around the world that show the longest lifespans of their citizens often also show a diet rich in olive oils.  Iceland and Sardinia have the statistically longest lifespans and are also among the heaviest olive oil consumers.

One thing to note is that the type of olive oils you consume matter.  Don’t buy the cheap stuff.  Studies show that the higher the grade, the more benefit you’ll derive.  Keep in mind that the top grade olive oil is called “Premium extra virgin”.  “Extra virgin” is still excellent so give consideration to either of those two grades when making your olive oil decisions.  And make sure there are no added oils or flavors to it.  No GMO, no “herb flavors”, etc.  Just olive oil.

What does a tablespoon of olive oil look like?  Well it’s high in fat, of course, but good fat!  There are no sugars, proteins, or carbs.  You’ll get 119 calories and 14 grams of fat, 9.8 of which are monosaturated (heart healthy).   You’ll also get 8 micrograms of vitamin K and 2 milligrams of vitamin E, both of which is about 10% of your recommended daily allowance

Since it’s been written so many times and so easy to find, instead of going into deep detail here, instead I’m going to provide a quick-hit list of how olive oil can benefit you or your loved ones.  Bear in mind that many (most?) of the below items say “may” rather than “will” simply because testing is ongoing.  There are no hard and fast rules but the tests being performed strongly indicated the below are true. Still, read these as “may” rather than “will” for the most part.  Ready, here goes:

  • Strong source of healthy fats and antioxidants
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Prevents hardening of the arteries
  • Helps you live longer
  • May improve bone health
  • May protect against stroke
  • May protect against some forms of cancer
  • May help reduce risk of heart disease
  • Helps with weight loss and prevents obesity
  • May fight age related cognitive decline, so supports your brain’s health
  • May prevent mood swings and depression
  • May help lower your risk of diabetes
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Improves digestion
  • May help prevent gallstones
  • May help prevent cataracts and vision loss

Quite a list.  If even half those are true, why are we not consuming far more olive oil?

Studies show that between 1 and 4 tablespoons each day is what you should shoot for to obtain the best health benefits.  Many people in other parts of the world start their day by drinking a small glass of straight olive oil. These people will probably outlive you and me.  There’s a happy medium there between guzzling a pint of olive oil and taking 4 tablespoons each day.  If you take two tablespoons in the morning, one around lunch time and one in the evening, you’ll reap the benefits and I can just about guarantee you’ll eat less.  That’s an appreciable amount of fat calories so you will feel fuller throughout the day.