Excuse the cliche, but unless you have been living in a cave or under a rock for the last 100 years, the health benefits of olive oil are well-known. Olive oil is good for the skin, from being able to slow down the aging process to fixing cracked skin around the heel.
It also works very well with hair, keeping it healthy when used as a treatment before shampooing. However, in this article, we are going to look at the internal health benefits of olive oil.
Table of Contents
Proven Health Benefits of Olive Oil:
1. Prevents breast cancer
The fact that extra virgin olive oil can help prevent breast cancer sounds like the kind of pseudo-scientific statement that comes from a new-age publication. However, science seems to substantiate the claims.
Oleuropein and polyphenols, which are both natural compounds found in olive oil, have properties that may fight against breast cancer. The science is complex and difficult to summarise in the space available. However, both properties show that olive oil inhibits the activity of cancer-causing compounds.
For readers who are interested in following up the research of the two studies can find the Saudi Arabian study here (1) and the Science Daily article quoting the research here (2).
2. Prevents Alzheimer’s
Around the same time as the two studies finding evidence of a link between olive oil and decreased instances of breast cancer were published, another connection was found that suggested the benefits of olive oil could also help combat the effects of Alzheimer’s.
Of the two studies, the first was published in January 2012 and showed that polyphenol, the same compound that helps counteract breast cancer, may also help improve learning and memory in mice (3).
The second study, published by the American Chemical Society (4), found that oleocanthal, a component of polyphenol, reduced Alzheimer’s by between 30% and 40% in people who followed a Mediterranean diet.
3. Prevents diabetes
Olive oil contains mono and polyunsaturated fats and is beneficial in preventing diabetes. Studies have shown that these ‘good’ fats can help your body keep your blood sugar under control.
The studies by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (5) and the Harvard School of Public Health (6) both showed a link between the benefits of olive oil in a healthy Mediterranean diet not only prevents diabetes but may actually reverse diabetes.
4. Strengthens bones
The study that supports the argument was published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website in 2016. The study found that olive oil could help prevent the decrease the mineral density in bones.
Again, it is impossible to summarise the information in the report. If you would like to read the full report: Olives and Bone: A Green Osteoporosis Prevention Option, you can read it here (7).
5. Controls cholesterol
We have already seen that mono and polyunsaturated fats can help control blood sugar levels and thus prevent diabetes. These same fats can help control cholesterol levels in the blood.
In a study named, Olive Oil Polyphenols Enhance High-Density Lipoprotein Function in Humans (8). The results showed that there was “evidence of enhancement in HDL function by polyphenol-rich olive oil”. For those of you who don’t know, HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein and basically means ‘good’ cholesterol.
6. Prevents strokes
The idea that olive oil prevents strokes is a sound one. Two leading causes of strokes are high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The research comes from the University of Bordeaux in France (9).
Researches asked people aged 65 and over how much olive oil they used in their diets. Over the next five years, the researchers followed up using the participants’ medical records and found that those who used olive oil as part of their regular diets had 41% fewer strokes than those that didn’t.
7. Acts as a pain relief
The benefits of olive oil as a relief for pain is well-known. Extra virgin oil contains a compound called oleocanthal, which is an anti-inflammatory agent. And according to a study published in Nature in 2005 (10).
The study showed that a daily intake of olive oil had the same pain-relieving qualities as ibuprofen. While it won’t stop a headache, long term health benefits of olive oil such that it reduces the pain and swelling felt in patients suffering from arthritis.
8. Relieves constipation
Olive oil is an excellent benefit for the digestive tract. The consistency of olive oil stimulates the digestive system, helping the food move more smoothly.
Add monounsaturated fats into the mix, and the food moves smoothly through the colon and bowels, decreasing the chances of constipation.
9. Dilutes ear wax
When ear wax hardens, it can be difficult to budge. Additionally, when trying to remove hardened ear wax, the tissue or cotton bud will often push the ear wax further into the ear.
Olive oil helps to soften the hardened ear wax that has formed, which can then be more easily removed from your ears.
10. Treats Depression
One of the most amazing benefits of olive oil is that it appears to be able to reduce depression. Olive oil increases the amounts of serotonin, which is a chemical in the brain that works similarly to antidepressants.
11. Eliminates kidney stones
Finally, this one comes last as the jury is definitely still out on it. The stories go that if you add lemon juice to olive oil, the tasty liquid can breakdown kidney stones. To be honest, the science here is pretty vague at best, and while it doesn’t sound that scientific, it does sound like there’s some common sense in there.
The idea behind it is that the lemon juice breaks down the kidney stones and that the olive oil coats the fragments of the stone. The olive oil and apparently extra virgin olive oil is the best to use as it’s the thickest, also coats the urethra making the stones slide out without any discomfort.
While not all the above have been scientifically proven, there is no doubt that the health benefits of olive oil are pretty impressive. Make sure you add olive oil to your daily diet today and reap the benefits for years to come.