Why use olive oil?
In this guide, we will address and answer the query, “Why use olive oil?” We will also provide you with relevant information like the composition of olive oil, the health benefits associated with it, and how to incorporate it into your diet.
Why use olive oil?
Using olive oil is a good call because it has many healthy properties that can be beneficial to improve your health. Through the rest of this article we will explore the health benefits of olive oil, but in summary, it can helps to (1,2):
- Reducing cholesterol levels in the body, and preventing cardiovascular diseases.
- Olive oil also reduces inflammation due to the anti-inflammatory effect of all antioxidants contained in it.
- The antioxidants found in olive oil can prevent chronic diseases like cancer.
- It can help for weight management and controlling both glucose and insulin in people with type 2 diabetes.
- Finally but not least important, it could enhance the flavor of your dishes!
What are the major and minor constituents of olive oil?
Olive oil is a good source of monounsaturated fats (around 66-80%) mainly oleic acid. Olive oil also has Linoleic acid (omega–6) as the principal polyunsaturated fatty acid of about 11% (3).
In the case of saturated fatty acid, the most abundant is Palmitic acid, being in a concentration of i 7-20% of the total fatty acids in olive oil (3).Other minor constituents of olive oil include Vitamins E and K, and other antioxidants such as polyphenols and carotenoids (1,3).
Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant for skin health and it also strengthens your immune system against infectious diseases. On the other hand, vitamin K has special roles in coagulation, cicatrization, and good bone health (4,5).
Regarding antioxidants, these are substances that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals, unstable molecules that the body produces and can damage tissues, cells, and even your DNA (1,6).
What are the health benefits of olive oil?
Olive oil can provide you with excellent health benefits like preventing cardiovascular diseases, regulating the metabolism of glucose, weight management, and even prevention of cancer. Another popular usage is to alleviate constipation (1,6,7).
How is olive oil beneficial to heart health?
The cardio-protective effects of olive oil are related to their content in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants (1,8).
Monounsaturated fatty acids reduce the amounts of “bad cholesterol” (Low Density Lipoproteins [LDL]) and could increase the “good cholesterol” (High Density Lipoproteins [HDL]) (1,8).
The regulation of LDL and HDL prevents the mobilization of cholesterol to arteries, development of atheroma, and thus, reducing the risks of cardiovascular events (1,8).
Moreover, the anti-inflammatory properties of both monounsaturated fats and antioxidants can reduce the inflammation of vessels and arteries (1,8).
How is olive oil beneficial to the skin?
The anti-inflammatory properties of the antioxidants in olive oil can help to protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals, and other immune-mediated diseases like psoriasis (1).
Another application for skin is with cosmetics. The fatty acids in olive oil can help to keep the skin moisturized and can also help to reduce the appearance of wrinkles (9).
Some people also use olive oil as a natural treatment for acne. The antioxidants in olive oil can help to kill the bacteria that cause acne and can also help to reduce inflammation (1,9).
Finally, the potent antioxidants like carotenoids and vitamin E can exert a positive effect on preventing skin cancer. Olive oil is rich in lutein and astaxanthin, which exert their antioxidant and anticancer activities specifically on the skin (1,6).
How is olive oil beneficial to prevent other chronic diseases?
Olive oil is loaded with antioxidants which stabilize or reduce free radicals in your body. It is important to note that these free radicals can alter your DNA, causing chronic changes in your cells and promoting diseases such as cancer (1).
According to scientific literature, olive oil is associated with a lower risk of prostate, skin, and breast cancer, mainly thanks to the concentration of antioxidants (1).
However, olive oil can also help regulate glucose, insulin, and for weight management. Fats normally increase your satiety after eating because they reduce your gastric emptying (10).
Therefore, if your stomach remains full for more time, you will feel less need for eating and you can achieve your weight goals easily (10).
In the case of glucose and insulin regulation, there is no clear mechanism; but scientists argue that the weight management and anti-inflammatory activity of olive oil antioxidants are responsible for this healthy effect (1).
Finally, Omega-3 fatty acids contained in olive oil have neuroprotective effects, therefore, they can prevent diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. There is no clear mechanism of action yet, but it seems like Omega-3 helps restore brain and cognitive functions (1).
What are the side effects of olive oil?
Oil has high calories and causes weight gain if not consumed in moderate quantities. One teaspoon can contain 120 calories and therefore needs to be taken in small portions (10).
Olive oil can also be a potential allergen. For people affected, excess olive intake can cause dermatitis (11).
How to incorporate olive oil in your diet?
You can use olive oil as a topping for meats, pizza, and pasta; you can use it to elaborate healthier salad dressings like vinaigrette or mayonnaise; or you can simply use it for cooking (2,3,12).
Olive oil is generally stable at cooking temperatures (<180 °C); however, above 180 °C like when you deep fry some food, you can cause the degradation of the major part of antioxidants and healthy components (12).
If you are considering using olive oil for cooking, please visit this article to know more about what happens with olive oil when it is used for cooking.
According to some studies, you should use just 50 ml of olive oil daily to obtain the health benefits of this valuable food (7).
Does olive oil go bad?
Olive oil does not spoil but it can become rancid. Rancidity is the deterioration of food quality that is caused by the oxidation of lipids, which leads to a change in the taste, odor, and color of the food (13).
Rancidity occurs when the oil is exposed to certain conditions such as exposure to oxygen, exposure to light high, or a high moisture environment. Rancidity can be prevented by using airtight containers, storing your olive oil in a cool, dry, and dark place (13).
Other FAQs about Oils that you may be interested in.
In this guide, we addressed and answered the query, “Why use olive oil?” We also provided you with relevant information like the composition of olive oil, the health benefits associated with it, and how to incorporate it into your diet.
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- Folayan AJ, Anawe PAL, Aladejare AE, Ayeni AO. Experimental investigation of the effect of fatty acids configuration, chain length, branching and degree of unsaturation on biodiesel fuel properties obtained from lauric oils, high-oleic and high-linoleic vegetable oil biomass. Energy Reports, 2019;5, 793-806.
- Mota AH, Silva CO, Nicolai M, Baby A, Palma L, Rijo P, et al. Design and evaluation of novel topical formulation with olive oil as natural functional active. Pharm Dev Technol, 2017;23(8):1–12.
- Munekata PES, Pérez-Álvarez JÁ, Pateiro M, Viuda-Matos M, Fernández-López J, Lorenzo JM. Satiety from healthier and functional foods. Trends Food Sci Technol, 2021;113:397–410.
- Vicente FS, Eceizabarrena ML, Paredes ÁR, Nogales LJ. Allergy to olive fruit: lipid transfer protein syndrome. Current Allergy & Clinical Immunology, 2021;34(2):82-86.
- Lozano-Castellon J, de Alvarenga JFR, Vallverdu-Queralt A, Lamuela-Raventos RM. Cooking with extra-virgin olive oil: A mixture of food components to prevent oxidation and degradation. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 2022;123:28-36.
- Iqdiam BM, Welt BA, Goodrich-Schneider R, Sims CA, Baker IV GL, Marshall MR. Influence of headspace oxygen on quality and shelf life of extra virgin olive oil during storage. Food Packaging and Shelf Life, 2020;23:100433.