5 Reasons Why Olive Oil is the Ultimate Healthy Fat
Whether in Rome or at home, do as the Romans do: Make olive oil a staple. If you already eat the Mediterranean way, you know that the oil not only tastes good but that it is good for you. It’s an amazing source of antioxidants, capable of dousing inflammation, defending cells from menacing molecules, and more. Here’s the latest on this superhero food.
IT CUTS YOUR CANCER RISK
Olive oil’s cancer-preventing powers are lab legends. Which substances get the credit? Polyphenols, for one — these potent plant antioxidants protect against cancer-causing cell damage. But it also looks like the oil’s monounsaturated fat has anti-cancer effects, which means olive oil packs quite a one-two punch! Some people-proof: Check the lower rates of breast, ovarian and prostate cancer among Southern Europeans — whose diets flow with olive oil — compared to their northern neighbors.
IT HELPS YOUR HEART
There’s virtually nothing better than the big “double O” when it comes to your heart. Olive oil ups good HDL cholesterol, lowers bad LDL, and reduces other harmful blood fats (triglycerides). And that’s not all. It also reduces inflammation, another contributor to cardiovascular disease.
IT KEEPS YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE DOWN
Speaking of your heart, how’s your blood pressure? If it’s not below 120/80, you need to get it there. And yes, olive oil plays a role. It can help enough to reduce the need for daily meds. Those potent polyphenols appear to dilate arteries, which brings blood pressure down. (Always choose extra-virgin olive oil, by the way — its minimal processing preserves the maximum number of antioxidants and heat-sensitive vitamins.)
IT HELPS YOU LOSE WEIGHT
“Great taste, less filling” — that light beer slogan rings true for olive oil. While ounce for ounce, all oils have the same calories, olive oil has a fuller flavor so less is needed for tantalizing taste. Plus research shows that overweight people who eat a diet with some fat — including olive oil — are more likely to shed pounds than those who slash fat. Why? Oil’s rich flavor makes it easier to stick with the program.
IT EASES YOUR ACHING HEAD
If you’re prone to headaches and wary of overdoing ibuprofen, try routinely dressing your salad or crisp-tender veggies in extra-virgin olive oil. It contains oleocanthal, a natural compound that, like ibuprofen, blocks pain-producing and inflammatory substances — but without the risk of stomach upset. While daily oleocanthal doses aren’t the painkiller’s complete equal, they could lower your risk for heart disease, cancer, arthritis and possibly Alzheimer’s. Quite a trade-off.