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8 Amazing Health Benefits of Olive Oil

Written by Helen Quach, BS (Biochemistry) | Reviewed by Nattha Wannissorn, PhD | Last updated:

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Health Benefits of Olive Oil

Olive oil is not only good for cooking but for our health as well. It has many benefits – it helps treat cancer, reduces heart disease risk, alleviates bone problems, and is good for the skin. Read more below to learn about its additional health benefits.

What is Olive Oil?

Olive oil is fat from the olive, a traditional tree crop of Mediterranean Basin. The oil is made by pressing whole olives [1].

Along with its culinary and religious uses, it also has many health benefits. The phenols in the oil contain most of the beneficial properties.

Health Benefits of Olive Oil

1) Fights Against Cancer

One of the main phenols in olive oil, hydroxytyrosol, possesses antitumor effects due to pro-oxidant properties, the capacity to inhibit the growth of cells, and the promotion of cell death. Hydroxytyrosol treatment reduced thyroid cancer cells by promoting programmed cell death in those cells [2].

Higher oil intake may be a protective factor against breast cancer [3].

Another polyphenol, oleuropein, can cause programmed cell death in breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and thyroid cancer [4].

Olive oil diets also influenced the expression of age-related changes. Diets can regulate the different susceptibility to chemical exposure leading to breast cancer [5].

2) Reduces the Risk of Diabetes

The Mediterranean diet uses olive oil as its main source of fat. The ADA recommends using this diet to improve blood sugar control. By following this diet, there is a 20%-23% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes [6].

11 overweight and diabetic patients added olive oil to their diet, which significantly reduced fasting blood sugar. Daily consumption can also improve metabolic control in overweight type 2 diabetes patients [7]

Older adults who were at risk of losing their eyesight due to diabetes were put on a diet containing olive oil. They had a decreased risk of losing their eyesight in comparison to those who did not increase their olive oil intake [8].

3) Reduces Heart Risk Factors

165 patients who were at high risk for heart disease went on a diet that included olive oil. Those patients had decreased blood pressure, total cholesterol, low-density cholesterol, and triglycerides [9].

Tomato sauce enriched with olive oil has a greater effect on heart risk factors than just raw tomato sauce [10].

Olive oil enhances the cholesterol-lowering properties of high-density lipids as well as protecting cells from oxidative stress [11].

In non-smoking women, olive oil decreased blood nitric oxide as well as endothelin-1. This explains the effect of olive oil lowering blood pressure among hypertensive women [12].

Olive oil increases high-density lipid cholesterol. It also reduces the oxidative damage to lipids, decreases inflammation and improves tissue function [13].

4) Helps Treat Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors that increase the risk of heart problems, stroke, and diabetes.

A diet enriched with olive oil enhances the blood antioxidant capabilities [14].

In women, an oil-rich diet reduced the risk of metabolic syndrome as well as heart disease [15].

A combination of olive and fish oil have a synergetic effect on lipid metabolism and oxidative stress in patients [16].

Additionally, it is likely to cause the reversion of this condition [17].

5) Reduces the Effects of Alzheimer’s Disease

Mice that had memory loss had olive oil included in their diet for 8 weeks. Their memory improved, and there was a significant response in the cortex to promote the formation of new cells in the brain. The continuous intake of olive oil may prevent or delay Alzheimer’s [18].

Alzheimer’s is characterized by the accumulation of β-amyloid (Aβ) and tau proteins in the brain. In mice, the oil leads to an up-regulation of Aβ degrading enzymes, which helps prevents Alzheimer’s [19].

6) Alleviates Osteoporosis

It can effectively reduce bone loss in ovariectomized rats [20].

Additionally, it increased osteoblast cell formation and can be a treatment for bone health [21].

Oil with vitamins might be beneficial to include in the diet of women to help for bone protection and against oxidative stress [22].

7) Reduces Depression Symptoms

Depressed patients were given a diet that included olive oil and evaluated over the time period. They showed a decrease in depression scores [23].

Olive is a food that is inversely associated with depression risks and improved depressive symptoms [24].

8) Heals Wounds

Scientists treated mice (who had induced ulcers) with either water or olive oil to help them heal. The oil helped heal pressure ulcers and improved skin health [25].

Linear incisions and circular excisions wound models were created in the buccal mucosa of rats to determine the healing effect of olive oil on the wounds. The oil has healing effects in both incisions and excisions as well as anti-inflammatory effects [26].

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About the Author

Helen Quach

BS (Biochemistry)

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