Extra vir­gin olive oil con­sti­tutes the main source of fat in the Mediterranean diet. Because it is pro­duced with­out heat or indus­trial refin­ing, all the antiox­i­dants and vit­a­mins in the fruit remain intact. Extra vir­gin olive oil is one rea­son peo­ple fol­low­ing the Mediterranean diet live long and healthy lives. Here are five of the most impor­tant com­pounds that make extra vir­gin olive oil a ver­i­ta­ble cock­tail of health:

1. Antioxidants

Extra vir­gin olive oil is rich in some of nature’s most potent nat­ural antiox­i­dants, phe­no­lic com­pounds, which have been shown to destroy free rad­i­cals, kill can­cer cells, and reduce the risk of heart dis­ease. They are thought to be why the Mediterranean diet is asso­ci­ated with great health, a reduced risk of can­cer and heart dis­ease, and remark­ably increased longevity.

2. Oleocanthal

Oleocanthal is believed respon­si­ble for the burn­ing and tin­gling sen­sa­tion that high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil cause to the throat. An anti-inflam­ma­tory phe­no­lic com­pound with the same prop­er­ties as com­mer­cial pain-killers, oleo­can­thal inhibits the COX1 and COX2 enzymes respon­si­ble for trig­ger­ing pain, inflam­ma­tion, and fever. It can also pre­vent Alzheimer’s dis­ease by help­ing clear beta-amy­loid plaques from the brain, and in vitro, oleo­can­thal has been shown to effec­tively kill can­cer cells.

3. Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs)

Monounsaturated fatty acids are found in abun­dance in nuts, fish, and veg­etable oils, par­tic­u­larly olive oil, which is com­posed of about 75 per­cent MUFAs. MUFAs pro­tect against dis­ease by increas­ing the flu­id­ity and elas­tic­ity of the cell mem­branes. The con­sump­tion of these healthy fats has been shown to reduce the risk of heart dis­ease, dia­betes, ath­er­o­scle­ro­sis, and colon can­cer.

4. Vitamin E

Olive oil is rich in vit­a­min E, a fat-sol­u­ble antiox­i­dant that pro­tects the body against eye and skin prob­lems, can­cer, dia­betes, and neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­eases such as Alzheimer’s. It is widely used in skin creams and lotions because it reduces scar­ring and pro­motes heal­ing, and is excel­lent for the hair as well. A recent study has shown that vit­a­min E also can pro­tect the lungs against air pol­lu­tion.

5. Vitamin K

Another fat-sol­u­ble vit­a­min found in olive oil is vit­a­min K, which is nec­es­sary for coag­u­la­tion and for processes that involve the fix­a­tion of cal­cium in the body. Good lev­els of vit­a­min K have also been shown to pro­tect against insulin resis­tance and sev­eral types of can­cer. A table­spoon of olive oil con­tains about 10 per­cent of the daily dose of vit­a­min K rec­om­mended for an adult.
See more: Olive Oil Health Benefits
Extra vir­gin olive oil is tra­di­tion­ally used in the Mediterranean cui­sine and is one of the rea­sons the diet pro­motes such good health and longevity. It con­tains high lev­els of antiox­i­dants, anti-inflam­ma­tory sub­stances, and fat sol­u­ble vit­a­mins. Research has shown that the com­pounds found in extra vir­gin olive oil can ward off such dis­eases as can­cer, dia­betes, ath­er­o­scle­ro­sis, and Alzheimer’s. On top of being healthy, extra vir­gin olive oil is deli­cious and will add fla­vor to any meal.


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