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The Benefits of Olive Oil for Your Health

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If you enjoy salads drizzled with dressing, tasty pasta dishes, or olives with fresh bread, chances are you will already have a powerful health booster hidden somewhere in your kitchen cupboard. Rich in antioxidants and monounsaturated fats, olive oil has a multitude of benefits for the body, whether it is consumed or even used topically to add moisture and shine to the skin and hair. 

Can you drink olive oil?

You may hear about influencers and celebrities promoting the benefits of drinking olive oil shots. While this can seem like a convenient way to get your daily “dose” of olive oil, there are certain precautions to take when doing this. 

Regardless of whether they are saturated, all fats can contribute to weight gain and related issues such as high cholesterol or type 2 diabetes. Health experts advise that consuming in moderation is best, and including olive oil in your diet can work just as well as drinking the recommended two tablespoons a day.

What are the benefits?

Olive oil is the main source of fat in the Mediterranean diet, which includes a range of foods known for boosting heart health and longevity. While you would have to include other foods in the mediterranean diet to get similar benefits, olive oil has its own range of potential benefits. 

  • Gut health. Phenols in olive oil could help promote intestinal immunity and a healthier gut, but IBS sufferers should watch out for excess fat intake, which can trigger the gastro-colic reflex and cause loose stools. 
  • Constipation. It’s worth noting that there are many factors that impact an individual person’s digestive system, from stress to food intolerances, but olive oil may help relieve constipation.
  • Cancer. While more research into the anti-carcinogenic effects of olive oil is needed , there are some promising signs that oleic acid (the main fat in olive oil) could help reduce the risk of some cancers, such as colorectal and breast cancer.
  • Inflammation. The antioxidants found in olive oil can help to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. Some studies suggest it may even be helpful for those with rheumatoid arthritis. 
  • Skin health. The antioxidants in olive oil also include vitamin E, which can help boost collagen production while slowing skin damage. Additionally, the antibacterial properties in olive oil may help to reduce eczema and acne flares, but this is when applied topically (to the skin).

Do your research

Additional studies suggest olive oil may also have additional benefits such as regulating blood sugar and helping to increase bone density as well as helping to prevent strokes while improving heart health. 

While some reported benefits are science-backed, others (such as claims that olive oil reduces bloating) may be anecdotal, so before introducing an ingredient to your diet for medicinal purposes it is always wise to do your due diligence and speak with your doctor. 

Recommended dosage

According to the Food and Drug Association and the European Food Safety Authority, two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil per day is enough to help reduce the risk of heart problems and inflammation.

When you consider how much you put in food when cooking or making salad dressing, adding this amount to your diet each day can be relatively easy, plus you get the health-giving benefits of healthy dishes you can make while using it.

Julian Carter, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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