When it comes to selecting a cooking oil and the dietary fats to avoid or embrace, it can be difficult to know out of all the different types available, which is the healthiest and tastiest option for your body and culinary needs?
Olive oil has been consumed as part of the Mediterranean diet as the main source of fat for thousands of years. Olive oil benefits have been widely cited as a factor in Spain and Italy both ranking amongst the top six countries in the world for highest life expectancy.
But why is this viscous golden liquid so good for you? And what kind of health and wellbeing rewards can you expect from including olive oil in your diet? Let's find out.
Olive oil health benefits
Research shows that the monounsaturated fats (oleic acid), vitamins and antioxidants that olive oil contains have a wide range of health benefits, including:
Reduced risk of heart disease
As the most common cause of death in the world, heart disease, its causes and prevention have been widely researched.
High blood pressure is one of the strongest risk factors for heart disease. Research has found extra virgin olive oil works to reduce blood pressure. A study by the University of Naples Federico II showed that olive oil reduced the need for blood pressure medication by 48%.
A massive 2014 review by the University of Vienna of thirty-two cohort studies consisting of over 840,000 participants, found those who ate the most olive oil were 9% less likely to have heart issues and 11% less likely to die early compared to others who ate the least olive oil.
The European Food Safety Authority recommends the consumption of 20 grams (around two tablespoons) of extra virgin olive oil daily for the individual to gain the beneficial amount necessary to lower the risk of heart disease and inflammation.
Prevention of stroke
As the second most common cause of death in the world it’s useful to learn that high olive oil consumption plays a protective role against stroke too.
A 2014 study by the Department of Nutritional Epidemiology in Bordeaux looked into the incidence of stroke and the use of olive oil found that participants who consumed the highest amounts of olive oil had a 41% lower risk of stroke.
With such impressive results in the above studies, if cardiovascular diseases run in your family or if you have any of the major risk factors of heart disease you will want to begin using extra virgin olive oil in your meals to boost your overall heart health stat.
Reduced symptoms of arthritis
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, like joint pain, are effectively treated by olive oil, especially when used in conjunction with fish oil, a fantastic source of omega-3 fatty acids.
For example, a Londrina State University study showed statistically significant improvements in participants in handgrip strength, joint pain and morning stiffness after 24 weeks of combined use of olive oil and fish oil supplements.
Management and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes presents as a decreased effectiveness of insulin, the hormone that moves glucose out of the blood and into cells to be used as energy. The phenolic compounds that exist in extra virgin olive oil assist in metabolising glucose and improve the sensitivity of insulin.
A European meta-analysis of 33 different studies looked into the role of olive oil in the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes found that the inclusion of olive oil in a person’s daily diet could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 13% and a diet high in olive oil helped normalise blood glucose in people who already had type 2 diabetes.
A Spanish study into the impact of the Mediterranean diet on the incidence of type 2 diabetes found that subjects who supplemented their Mediterranean diet with either extra virgin olive oil or mixed nuts decreased their risk of type 2 diabetes by more than 50%.
Links to improved bone health
Extra virgin olive oil is rich in polyphenols which has been connected to the prevention of bone loss as you age.
A 2017 Spanish study found that people who consumed the most extra virgin olive oil had a 51% reduced risk of bone fractures.
Links to improved brain health
Just when you think it couldn’t possibly get any better you find out the magical medicinal powers of olive oil extend to your brain.
Yep, that’s right. It is thought that the phenolic components of extra virgin olive oil may help clear out the compounds that cause brain degeneration, linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
One of the key identifiers of Alzheimer’s disease is the buildup of beta-amyloid plaques in brain cells. While research is still in its early stages, a promising study in mice by the University of Louisiana showed that olive-oil-derived oleocanthal helped remove the plaques.
Additionally, a 2013 rat study by the University of Karachi found that the ingredients in olive oil protect the nervous system and could be used as a therapeutic substance for the treatment of depression and anxiety.
Why quality and production matter
Now that we have established the numerous health benefits associated with olive oil consumption we wanted to mention why buying premium quality and fresh olive oil is so important to ensure you get the tastiest and most nutrient-packed olive oil available.
We suggest buying extra virgin olive oil, as according to Dieticians Australia regular olive oil (such as light olive oil and refined blends) has usually been extracted using chemicals and heat and through that process loses important nutrients and antioxidants.
Whereas the production of extra virgin olive oil is completely natural (no use of heat or chemicals) where the juice is squeezed directly from the olive, and because of this is considered the healthiest type of olive oil.
When shopping for your extra virgin olive oil remember that cold pressed is best. Check on the label or product description whether the extra virgin olive oil has been cold pressed (below 30 degrees) preferably within a few hours of the harvest. Cold pressing using the first press of the olives leads to a higher quality, more nutritious and better-tasting product.
Source your olive oil locally and buy Australian grown to ensure optimum freshness of your extra virgin olive oil as imported olive oils have a much longer “farm to your table” time. Imported olive oils have to travel much longer distances than Australian olive oils before they can be purchased and consumed.
All Mount Zero Olive Oil is Australian grown and cold pressed within hours of the harvest to maintain premium quality and taste.
Aussie olive oils are harvested annually between March and June. So, make sure you’re enjoying the freshest and healthiest olive oil available by checking the harvest date on the side of the bottle or box. The more recent the harvest date the better but it’s worth noting that olive oil is at its best within 12 to 14 months from the harvest date.
Dieticians Australia suggests consuming your extra virgin olive oil within four to six weeks after opening for maximum health benefits and maximum flavour.
Shop Mount Zero Olives’ freshest May 2021 harvest here.
We hope through the research discussed you now have a better understanding of the ways olive oil can be beneficial in the treatment and prevention of a number of different health conditions.
From looking out for your joints, heart, brain and blood, something as simple as adding extra virgin olive oil to your meals can have such a wide range of advantages across your lifetime.
So whether you start adding this gold superfood to your salads, roast veggies, pasta, as a butter substitute on bread (or all of the above!), it’s definitely worth getting on board the olive oil train to enjoy not only the delicious taste but the well-established health rewards.
Take a look at these olive oil-rich recipes to get inspired for different ways to incorporate olive oil into your diet.