Despite having long been considered the healthiest oil on the planet, in recent years, olive oil has come under fire. As with almost every other healthy food, new studies are attempting to debunk olive oil’s abundance of health claims.
Understanding this can be frustratingly confusing for consumers, we’ve decided to address this lingering question once and for all. Join us as we take an in-depth look at the numerous, proven reasons olive oil continues to stand as the healthiest oil you can incorporate in your diet.
One of the main arguments that skeptics like to use in making a case against olive oil is that monounsaturated fats can still contribute to atherosclerosis. While it’s certainly true that monounsaturated fats can lead to arterial and heart problems when consumed in large amounts, any fat consumed in large amounts will do exactly the same.
What makes the monounsaturated fats in olive oil so healthy is the beneficial properties that other fats are lacking. Oleic acid, the primary monounsaturated fat found in olive oil has been shown in multiple studies to help reduce inflammation in the body.
Additionally, monounsaturated fats are well known to raise HDL cholesterol and lower LDL cholesterol, helping to mitigate the risk of heart disease and stroke. Lastly, monounsaturated fats are naturally resistant to heat, making olive oil the perfect oil to cook with, especially when compared to alternative oils.
Another way that skeptics try to take a swing at olive oil is by proclaiming that all plant-based foods are packed with polyphenols and sterols, and therefore you should avoid incorporating olive oil in your diet. While it’s certainly true that most plant-based foods have naturally high levels of polyphenols and sterols so long as they undergo minimal to no processing, that doesn’t mean they can or should replace olive oil in your diet.
Because extra virgin olive oil is the least processed of the various types of olive oil you can buy, it preserves all of its natural antioxidants and beneficial compounds. By comparison, since most other oils are heavily processed, they have little to no beneficial properties or antioxidants.
The antioxidants found in extra virgin olive oil offer a variety of health benefits that have been proven by multiple studies. In fact, the phenolic compounds in combination with vitamin E have been shown to help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and atherosclerosis.
Scientists have long known that chronic inflammation in the body can contribute to the development of a variety of different diseases. Because recent studies have also found that high fat diets increase inflammatory markers in the body, many olive oil skeptics have jumped to the conclusion that consuming olive oil in your diet must do the same thing.
As it turns out, olive oil has multiple anti-inflammatory properties that are well documented with research. Tying into point number two, antioxidants take center stage once again, largely contributing to olive oil’s anti-inflammatory effects.
One phenolic compound in particular, oleocanthal, has been shown to work similarly to one of the most common OTC medications, ibuprofen. Though more research still needs to be done, another study found evidence suggesting that the antioxidants in olive oil actually inhibit genes and proteins that are known to drive inflammation.
If that’s still not enough evidence, further studies have found that oleic acid, the primary monounsaturated fat in olive oil, actually reduces CRP (C-reactive protein), an important inflammatory marker in the body. Together, all of the studies and evidence are largely in support of olive oil’s anti-inflammatory properties.
The latest study that olive oil skeptics have been using to make a case in their defense relates to vasoconstriction that occurs after eating a meal high in fat. Despite the study showing evidence that olive oil and other fats can cause arterial constriction for a limited amount of time, they were unable to prove that vasoconstriction was causing any damage to the arteries.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are hundreds of studies continuing to find supportive evidence that olive oil actually helps prevent heart disease, not cause it. As the leading cause of death in the world, studies have time and time again found that individuals following the Mediterranean diet (of which olive oil is one of the primary ingredients) have drastically reduced rates of heart disease.
Even more convincingly and in direct opposition of Dr. Vogel’s recent findings, dozens of studies have shown that olive oil not only lowers inflammation, but that it prevents LDL cholesterol from becoming oxidized, may prevent blood clotting, and decreases blood pressure while improving endothelial function.
In further support of olive oil’s protective properties, another study found that olive oil was able to reduce the need for blood pressure medication by an impressive 48%, one of the worst risk factors for heart disease.
Having only just scratched the surface of olive oil’s numerous health benefits, the overwhelming amount of evidence and research in support of these claims leave little room for doubt. Here at D’Olivo, we’ve made it our mission and passion to introduce any and everyone we come in contact with to the deliciously holistic world of olive oil.
That is why we firmly believe that olive oil is and will continue to be the healthiest oil you can incorporate into your diet. There are lots of great options, both regular and flavored olive oils, to choose from that will make any dish delicious.