The health benefits of extra virgin olive oil

The health benefits of extra virgin olive oil

Everyone considers fruits and vegetables healthy because they can be eaten raw with all their nutrients intact. Certain foods, however, require some preservatives to extend shelf life and decrease costs. The same principle applies to producing olive oil.

That delightful sensation

When you taste extra virgin olive oil, you can note the bitter and spicy flavors that create a tingling sensation in the back of the throat. That’s caused by an antioxidant called polyphenol, which is responsible for EVOO’s health-boosting properties. It is found in most plant-based foods and is known to prevent a variety of diseases.

Some olive oils may be chemically processed, mixed with additives and preservatives, or heat-treated, resulting in a low-to-average quality product that contains low levels of polyphenol. These are the light, pure, or regular varieties you see in supermarkets.

Then there’s extra virgin olive oil, produced naturally with milled olives that aren’t processed until after the oil has been extracted. Olive oil produced by this method is intensely flavorful, aromatic, and has high levels of polyphenol.

The next time you want to dress a bowl of salad, marinade meat, or season your favorite sauce, consider the following health benefits of polyphenol-rich extra virgin olive oil.

It lowers the risk of heart disease

Fats are often considered bad, but not extra virgin olive oil, which is widely regarded as healthy because its monounsaturated fats reduce bad cholesterol. Extra virgin olive oil is also rich in oleocanthal, which contains an anti-inflammatory agent that significantly reduces the risk of stroke.

In addition, many studies show that people who follow the Mediterranean Diet -- which mainly consists of olive oil (its principle source of fat), fruits and vegetables -- have a lower risk of heart attack.

It helps diabetics manage glucose levels

People with diabetes must keep their blood sugar under control and therefore often eat low-carbohydrate diets. Fortunately, the olive oil-rich Mediterranean Diet keeps both cholesterol and blood sugar levels under control, even though it’s not intrinsically low-carb.

What’s more, research on the benefits of olive oil shows that people with diabetes can switch from a low-fat diet to one that’s high in monounsaturated fat to help with weight loss. Plus, they can enjoy a diverse array of foods, including oily fish, poultry, fresh bread, and pasta, and with a drizzle of Sir Richard's Intense EVOO, you're livin' the good life!

It has cancer-preventing properties

We wouldn’t go so far as to suggest that a bottle of our Super Premium Olive Oil can cure cancer, but numerous studies linking the consumption of extra virgin olive oil to cancer prevention have been encouraging.

Studies also indicate a much lower incidence of cancer in Italy, Spain, and Greece, where olive oil is a household staple. And extra virgin olive oil is rich in polyphenols, which research shows protects against certain types of cancers, including breast, colon, ovarian, and prostate cancers.

It eases inflammation caused by arthritis

People with arthritis experience severe pain and swelling from inflamed joints, for which anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen are common remedies. Research suggests that regular consumption of extra virgin olive oil in small amounts helps manage inflammation, too.

This provides arthritis sufferers with a way to reduce symptoms that doesn’t increase their risk for kidney damage or intestinal bleeding like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can.

To make sure you get these health benefits, it’s important to buy the right type of extra virgin olive oil. So before making a purchase, check whether the product has been certified by a trusted authority like the California Olive Oil Council, and that it isn't past its expiration date.

Saltonstall Estate produces premium-quality olive oil such as Sir Richard’s Intense Olive Oil, vacuum-milled to extract the highest levels of polyphenols. Feel free to visit our estate and ask us about the nutrient content of our California-grown and harvested olives. Schedule a tour of our estate or order online today!