Olive oil is a popular oil used in both cooking and for health and beauty. There are numerous benefits of adding olive oil to your diet or to your skin and hair beauty regime.
A source of beneficial vitamins and minerals
Olive oil contains beneficial vitamins and nutrients as well as antioxidants.
Olive oil contains vitamin E and vitamin K which are significant for cardiovascular health. Vitamin E is essential for the formation of red blood cells.
Vitamin K is important for normal blood clotting in the body and blood coagulation. Vitamin K also supports healthy bones and may help prevent hip fractures.
Olive oil contains small amounts of the minerals iron, calcium, potassium and sodium. These minerals serve the body in many ways. They support the cardiovascular system and aid red blood cells in their role of carrying oxygen to all cells in the body.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) actually recommend eating two tablespoons or 23g of olive oil a day to reduce your risk of heart disease.
Gentle on the digestive system
Olive oil is gentle on the digestive system and is beneficial for intestinal health. It may also help in preventing gallstones and to soothe ulcers.
Recent studies have shown that the recommended daily allowance of olive oil, as suggested by the USFDA can actually lower chances of developing gallstones.
The ingredients in olive oil help reduce cholesterol in the blood and gallbladder. Research has found that the reports of gallstones amongst people who live in areas where olive oil use is high is low.
Maintains healthy skin
Olive oil can be used as a moisturiser to maintain healthy skin. It is known for improving the elasticity of the skin and its regenerative properties. When used as a moisturiser, olive oil deeply penetrates the skin without clogging pores.
It is recommended when using olive oil on skin that that Extra Virgin Organic Olive Oil be used as is of the highest quality, and has higher levels of vitamin E and phenols.
Olive oil provides antioxidants and good fats to fight free radicals and facilitate skin healing. Hydroxytyrosol, a rare compound found in olive oil, is instrumental in preventing free radical damage to the skin. The linoleic acid contained in olive oil is particularly good for moisturising the skin.
The three main antioxidants in olive oil are vitamin E, polyphenols and polysterols, and when applied on to skin, may help protect from premature skin aging. The vitamin E in it not only improves the elasticity and smoothness of the skin but also protects the skin against ultraviolet light damage.
By combining olive oil with natural sea salt, it can be used as a skin exfoliator. The gentle abrasiveness of the sea salt and deep penetration of the oil, eliminates dead skin cells and leaves the skin looking refreshed and bright.
Olive oil is also helpful in reducing under eye wrinkles and can be used as an eye make up remover.
When blended with melted beeswax, olive oil can be used as a lip balm for chapped lips. Olive oil placed directly on the lips can also do the same. Olive oil is also used regularly to moisturise cuticles.
Olive oil is also used for depilatory purposes. It can be used for a close shave when applied before shaving and as an aftershave balm to soothe the skin.
A few drops of olive oil can even be added to a warm bath to lock in moisture to the skin.
Olive oil is beneficial for massaging a dry flaky scalp or dandruff. It can also help with frizzy hair and to treat split ends. To use it in this way, the oil must be slightly warmed.
Olive oil can also be used to treat lice. Because the oil is thick, when it gets into the breathing mechanism of the lice the bug actually dies. The oil also does an excellent job of loosening the nits from the hair shaft. Although olive oil cannot kill the nits (eggs) as nothing can penetrate the hard shell of the nit, once the baby bug ages and breaks out of this shell the louse can now be suffocated by the olive oil.
By introducing olive oil in to your diet it can benefit insulin levels and control blood sugars, and hence potentially lower the risk of type two diabetes. A lot of studies and research conducted say that a diet rich in olive oil prevents diabetes as it reduces the glucose levels as well as the ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood. There are simple ways to add olive oil into your diet for instance as a salad dressing.
Olive oil is also rich in monounsaturated fats which help lower the risk of heart disease and strokes.
Decreases Risk of Cancer
Olive oil can decrease the risk of breast cancer and other cancers. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory components in olives as well as the anti-cancer compounds make them helpful for decreasing cancer activity. Oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid, also plays a significant role in cancer prevention.
A study conducted in Sweden found that of those women whose diets were richer in monounsaturated fats as opposed to polyunsaturated fats showed a less frequent incidence of breast cancer.
Olive oil aids with weight management as research has proven that switching to monounsaturated fat from diets that consisted of trans fats resulted in subsequent weight loss. It also reduces belly fat.
Shabi Choudhri is a writer and health advocate who specialises in Mind, Body & Soul. She enjoys going to the movies, and sitting in a room filled with candles and crystals whilst emanating love and light.