You use it to make salad dressing, to dip crusty bread in, and as a base for your pasta sauces. But do you know about all of the benefits of olive oil?
Olive oil nutrition facts
If you’ve ever wondered if olive oil is good for you, the answer is: Absolutely! Mediterranean diet enthusiasts have known it all along.
It may be hard to think of something called oil as a health food, but that is exactly what olive oil and the ever-popular extra virgin olive oil is. By taking a look at the olive oil nutrition facts, you’ll see part of the reason why this tasty treat is so healthy:
One table spoon (tsp) of olive oil has 40 calories, all of which come from fat. The same goes for extra virgin olive oil.
On the surface, it looks like a culinary nightmare!
However, the fat in olive oil and extra virgin olive oil is called monounsaturated fatty acids —also known as healthy fat.
While you want to stay away from the unhealthy fat —like saturated and trans fats— the monounsaturated fatty acids are actually good for you!
Benefits of olive oil explained
But what exactly do healthy monounsaturated fatty acids do?
Over the past few years, research has proven that the healthy fat can:
- Lower your cholesterol
- Normalize your blood clotting abilities
- Steady your insulin levels, which controls your blood sugar
More olive oil benefits
The healthy fat found in olive oil can also help reduce your risk of developing cancer. It may sound like a broad claim, but here’s how it works:
- If your system has too many oxygen molecules floating around, they all start looking for things to attach to. Among other things, they will try to attach to molecules from the fat that’s inside your system. Unfortunately, the
unhealthy fat molecules aren’t strong enough to fight off the oxygen, and the result is a distorted oxygen molecule called a free radical.
- Free radicals travel around your system, looking for things to attack. Depending on what they attack —and how much damage they can do— free radicals can cause cancer.
- The healthy fats (like the ones you find in olive oil) are stronger than their unhealthy counterparts. These fat molecules have a greater ability to fight off the oxygen molecules and destroy them before they turn into free radicals. The fewer free radicals you have in your system, the lower your chances of developing cancer.
That healthy fat does something else important once it’s inside your body — it makes your body produce natural anti-inflammatory chemicals that are similar to the ingredients that you find in over-the-counter pain relievers like Ibuprofen. As a result, those natural anti-inflammatory chemicals can lessen the severity of your arthritis or joint pain.
The anti-inflammatory benefits of olive oil can be found far away from your joints, too — in your lungs, to be exact!
People who suffer from asthma have too much inflammation in their lungs. Because the area is so inflamed, it is impossible for air to pass through properly — or at all. But, by taking advantage of the natural anti-inflammatory chemicals that come after eating olive oil, you can actually lessen the severity of your asthma!
But it’s not all about fat.
In fact, some of the benefits of olive oil come from its smooth consistency. Olive oil is especially helpful to your digestive tract. It is smooth enough to protect the lining inside of your digestive tract, and it has also been proven to prevent constipation — meaning that you won’t have to deal with that uncomfortable bloating and painful cramping.
Olive oil and your skin
What about on the outside of your body? Is olive oil good for your skin?
After all, that’s what all of the beauty magazines seem to say! Luckily, those magazines are onto something. One of the benefits of olive oil is that it helps you body maintain high levels of Vitamin E, and Vitamin E has huge, scientifically-proven anti-aging properties. And, if you use some olive oil in place of your moisturizer, your skin will immediately feel softer and suppler.
How’s that for benefits? It’s certainly more than you could have imagined when you looked at the olive oil nutrition facts!
But eating olive oil isn’t all about treating ailments.
The benefits of olive oil can be so strong that, many times, they can actually prevent health issues from developing in the first place. It may not be a substitute for modern medicines, but the olive oil benefits certainly cannot be ignored!
How to store olive oil
But to take advantage of all of the benefits of olive oil, you have to store it the right way. Keep it in a dark cabinet at room temperature or as a last resource in your refrigerator, but only if a bottle lasts you too long because you are not cooking with olive oil regularly. Too much heat and light will zap some of its power.
And, don’t keep your olive oil any longer than a year. In fact, it’s best if you can use your olive oil in less than 6 months. That’s because the benefits of olive oil start to fade as it sits, so start cooking!