Three health benefits of eating olive oil


Replacing other forms of fat, like butter, margarine and mayonnaise, with olive oil, could help you live longer, as well as prevent dementia. — AFP

From acne to itching, dryness and wrinkles, olive oil is known to be great for the skin.

But this staple of Mediterranean and Cretan diets is also brimming with health benefits.

Olive oil has been the subject of one scientific study after another, highlighting its positive effects on the brain, heart and longevity.

All the more reason to include it in your diet.

With antioxidants, monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, the composition of olive oil – although it may vary according to climate or olive variety – is rich in (mostly) health-promoting fats, according to the latest scientific research on the subject.

While you don’t have to eat it morning, noon and night, olive oil is well worth including in a healthy diet.

And this is not only to help maintain heart and brain health, but also to combat premature death.

Here are three good reasons to make olive oil part of your daily diet.

> Reducing dementia risk

Presented at Nutrition 2023, the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition, a new study highlights the virtues of olive oil for brain health.

After analysing dietary questionnaires and the death records of more than 90,000 Americans over three decades, researchers suggested that consuming more than half a tablespoon of olive oil daily was associated with a 28% lower risk of fatal dementia, compared with little or no consumption.

More than 55 million people worldwide suffer from dementia, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Our study reinforces dietary guidelines recommending vegetable oils such as olive oil and suggests that these recommendations not only support heart health, but potentially brain health as well.

“Opting for olive oil, a natural product, instead of fats such as margarine and commercial mayonnaise, is a safe choice and may reduce the risk of fatal dementia,” said Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health postdoctoral fellow Dr Anne-Julie Tessier in a news release.

The scientist points out, however, that this is observational research, which does not prove that olive oil is directly responsible for reducing the risk of fatal dementia.

Still, the findings do lend weight to the idea that olive oil can help support a healthy diet.

> Preserving heart health

Olive oil may be beneficial in protecting the heart from certain diseases, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in 2022.

This study approached the subject from a slightly different angle.

More than 60,000 women and over 31,000 men free of cardiovascular (heart) disease at the start of the research were followed for 28 years, with a questionnaire on their diet every four years.

The study showed that consumption of more than 7g of olive oil a day – again, the equivalent to more than half a tablespoon – was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular death (-19%), cancer death (-17%), and also of death from neurodegenerative disease (-29%), compared with occasional or no consumption.

“Our findings support current dietary recommendations to increase the intake of olive oil and other unsaturated vegetable oils,” said study lead author and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health adjunct associate professor Dr Marta Guasch-Ferré.

“Clinicians should be counselling patients to replace certain fats, such as margarine and butter, with olive oil to improve their health.”

This research also found that people who consumed more olive oil were more likely to be physically active, less likely to smoke, and ate more fruit and vegetables.

> Supporting longevity

The same study came to the conclusion that a high consumption of olive oil – meaning more than half a tablespoon a day – could help people live longer.

This may be especially true if the olive oil in question replaces other forms of fat, such as butter, margarine or mayonnaise.

In conclusion to their research, the scientists point out that olive oil’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties could make a major contribution to maintaining good health. – AFP Relaxnews

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Olive oil , diet , nutrition


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