It seems you can’t open a magazine, read a website, or look for health information these days without seeing something about a new food fad that’s going to change your health forever.
This is a problem because too often when people embrace the new, they reject the old, reliable standbys. And sometimes, the old, reliable standbys have lasted this long for a reason.
Extra virgin olive oil, or EVOO, falls into this category. There are other, sexier oils out there right now getting all the attention — but that’s not necessarily fair, or healthy. Not when you stop and realize just how healthy EVOO really is.
- Keeps your heart healthy. Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, but people living around the Mediterranean Sea aren’t nearly as susceptible to it. Hundreds of studies over the years have taught us why — it’s partly the EVOO in the Mediterranean diet! In spite of what you might’ve heard, you can even cook with EVOO and still get its heart-healthy benefits. A study of over 40,000 people found that frying and sautéing foods in EVOO did not increase rates of heart disease.
- Lowers cholesterol. Along the same lines as reducing heart disease, EVOO can help reduce and maintain healthy cholesterol levels, too. Not only does it lower overall cholesterol, but almost more importantly, it lowers LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, specifically.
- Prevents stroke. A study published in the journal Neurology reported that older people who used EVOO regularly for cooking, dipping, or dressing decreased their risk of stroke by 41% compared to people who didn’t use EVOO at all.
- Makes your skin look great. Sure, EVOO as a moisturizer keeps your skin soft, but so does adding it to your diet. Since EVOO is high in vitamin E, it can help keep skin hydrated, speed healing, and help fight many of the causes of acne and eczema.
- Helps balance blood sugar. The types of fat found in EVOO do not contribute to weight gain and may even help prevent, or at least treat, type 2 diabetes. It stabilizes glucose levels, even after eating a high-sugar/high-carb meal. Plus, since adding some fat to your diet helps fill you up and feel more satisfied, you’re less likely to overindulge in the foods that can throw your blood sugar out of whack.
- Protects brain health. There’s a long line of clinical trials, including a very recent one out of Temple University, that link EVOO to lower risks of dementia, better brain health, and stronger cognitive function. And with each study, we learn a little more. Turns out EVOO is one your brain’s best friends. First, it helps your body prevent the plaque that can build up in your brain and contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Just as importantly, the antioxidants in EVOO protect your brain from the inflammation that can trigger the disease in the first place.
No, extra virgin olive oil isn’t particularly sexy or hot right now, but it’s exceptionally good for your health. And isn’t that what really matters?