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The many health benefits of olive oil

The Mediterranean Diet – perceived by many medical experts as one of the most healthy diet plans around – is based around olive oil. This knowledge is nothing new, since Hippocrates – the father of modern medicine – extolled the health properties of olive oil around 400 years before the birth of Christ. If you don’t fully understand the health benefits of switching to olive oil, here are just some of them to get you thinking.

Good for the heart

Olive oil is a monounsaturated oil high in plant-based polyphenols, which are known to reduce blood pressure. Also, olive oil lowers levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol. Just two tablespoons of olive oil a day can significantly reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

Fights cancer

The polyphenols and anti-oxidants in olive oil are believed to protect against some cancers, particularly breast cancer and colon cancer. Recent research from Spain also suggests the active ingredients in olive oil may shrink malignant tumours. Extra virgin olive oil best in this case, as it’s the least processed, and contains more of the cancer-fighting compounds than lower grade oils.

Good for the skin

Inside the body, olive oil helps repair damaged skin cells and stimulate new cell growth, due to the presence of the antioxidant vitamins A and E. It can also be used topically as a natural moisturiser, either alone or as an ingredient in home-made beauty products. Olive oil makes a great massage oil, either alone or combined with essential oils. It encourages improved circulation and leaves the skin fresh and glowing.

Good for diabetics

Olive oil helps to stabilise blood sugar levels, thus avoiding the peaks and troughs which can cause problems for diabetic patients. It also guards against insulin resistance, so it can help in the management of diabetes.

Anti-inflammatory

The monounsaturated fats present in olive oil can be used by the body to produce anti-inflammatory enzymes to relieve the symptoms of arthritis, asthma and other chronic conditions where inflammation is a problem. This offers a measure of natural pain relief by settling inflammation and increasing joint mobility.

Aids weight loss

Olive oil’s monounsaturated fats can help break down excess fat stored in body cells, and also prevent belly fat forming or increasing. This enhanced fat metabolism can help speed up weight loss as part of a healthy eating plan.

Remember that olive oil, for all its health benefits, is still a form or fat and is therefore high in calories. Make the switch from saturated or vegetable fats to olive oil, don’t just add it to your existing diet, and keep an eye on quantities. Two tablespoons a day will provide all the health benefits mentioned here and more, but much more than that could lead to weight gain in the long term. Too much of a good thing can easily become a bad thing!

Published April 29th by Sandra Piddock
Posted to Expat Blog

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