"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Olive oil is on the rise. Is it the final word superfood?

July 27, 2023 – If you could possibly take a single pill that may lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, neurological diseases like dementia and Parkinson's, and early death typically, would you do it? Bad news: There isn't any drug that may do all of this stuff. But if the headlines are to be believed, one food can: extra virgin olive oil. It might be the final word superfood.

“There really is no other food that offers as many benefits,” says Dr. Mary Flynn, an associate professor at Brown University who has studied olive oil for greater than 20 years. “There is no drug.”

Just this week, a brand new study from Harvard University found that folks who eat greater than half a tablespoon a day have a 28 percent lower risk of dying from dementia than individuals who rarely eat it.

After a long time of headline-grabbing research, the olive oil train has many passengers. On TikTok, there are videos about Drink olive oil daily have received greater than 1 billion views. Several corporations now offer “medical quality” Olive oil, which incorporates the next content of helpful compounds. Actresses Brie Larson and Chloe Grace Moretz use it to cleanse their faces, and Jennifer Lopez owes her age-defying glow to olive oil, not Botox. Earlier this yr, Starbucks introduced a line of Coffee drinks made with extra virgin olive oil.

How much of that is hype and the way much is backed by research?

Olive oil and health: The big picture

For 6 a long time, for the reason that first Seven-country study Since attention was drawn to the Mediterranean weight-reduction plan and its generous use of olive oil, researchers have been studying the health advantages of this golden liquid. And there are lots of.

A 2022 evaluation of previous studies involving lots of of hundreds of individuals found that every additional 5 grams of intake day by day—that's just over a teaspoon—can reduce your overall risk of death by 4%.

Extra virgin olive oil is wealthy in polyphenols, a robust group of antioxidants that fight inflammation.

“Inflammation is the foundation of every disease,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, a registered dietitian on the Cleveland Clinic. “So if we look at inflammation as the foundation, we can see that olive oil can help relieve many different ailments.”

Researchers haven't been in a position to determine the precise mechanism of motion of those polyphenols, but they've consistently found similar effects in many alternative areas.

“As a scientist, I'm curious: what is the mechanism? How does it all work?” says Dr. Tassos Kyriakides, assistant professor on the Yale School of Public Health and certainly one of the organizers of the annual “Olive Oil and Health” symposium at Yale. “But in the big picture: does it really matter whether it gives someone a healthy outcome in the end? Does someone living in a village in Sicily care about How this thing will help me be as fit as ever at 95?”

Olive oil and your heart

The Seven Countries Study looked specifically at heart problems. Sixty-five years later, the concept that olive oil is sweet for the center is accepted as fact since it is wealthy in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and polyphenols. The European Food Safety Authority allows extra virgin olive oil with a certain polyphenol content to make heart-healthy health claims on the label.

“This is a big, big statement based on a lot of accumulated evidence,” says Kyriakides.

Kristin Koval, a 53-year-old author from Boulder, Colorado, began eating olive oil day by day 3 or 4 years ago. Her family has a history of heart problems attributable to genetically low levels of HDL, the “good” cholesterol.

“There really isn't a good medication to raise the levels, and I don't like taking medication unless I have to,” she said. “I've read about some foods that help. I couldn't eat salmon or sardines every day, but olive oil is something you can incorporate into your daily routine, so I did.”

Since she began taking it, her HDL levels have increased. For the past two years, they've been in the traditional range. “My doctor is happy, and so am I.”

Olive oil and your brain

This latest Harvard study on olive oil and dementia-related deaths builds on previous findings. Anne-Julie Tessier, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow on the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, presented the outcomes on the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition. She said they began the study because there's a lot evidence that the Mediterranean weight-reduction plan helps with cognitive function, cognitive decline and dementia risk.

“Olive oil accounts for a significant proportion of calories in the diet, so it was very interesting to look specifically at fatal dementia,” she said. Replacing only one teaspoon of margarine or mayonnaise with the identical amount of olive oil per day reduced the chance by 8 to 14 percent.

Kyriakides has also researched the effect of olive oil on the brain. A small study produced promising results: day by day consumption significantly improved dementia symptoms in individuals with mild cognitive impairment.

Olive oil and cancer, diabetes and more

While olive oil’s effects on cardiovascular and brain health have received many of the attention, researchers have discovered quite a few other advantages:

  • Cancer: An evaluation of 45 studies found that folks who consumed essentially the most extra virgin olive oil had a 31% lower risk of cancer than those that consumed the least.
  • Diabetes: Research has shown that consuming extra virgin olive oil can lower fasting blood sugar and insulin resistance. One study found that consuming 25 grams per day (slightly below two tablespoons) reduced the chance of type 2 diabetes by 22%
  • Pain relief: Oleocanthal, a polyphenol present in extra virgin olive oil, has anti-inflammatory properties just like those of ibuprofen. Kyriakides sees himself as living proof of this: Since he began using extra virgin olive oil exclusively 9 years ago – yes, even for Bake – he has not taken ibuprofen or other common painkillers even once, not even after participating in triathlons.
  • Skin care: The research is less clear here—nobody has proven that olive oil can clear pimples, for instance—however the celebrities could also be on to something. Olive oil's phenolic compounds have stronger antioxidant properties than vitamin E, which has long been utilized in skincare, and its anti-inflammatory effects also seem to assist.
  • Intestinal health: The researchers are still on the very starting, but the outcomes are promising. “The gut microbiome will see a lot of research activity in the future,” said Kyriakides. “Everything that has to do with the immune system is processed there. A healthy environment leads to a healthy system, which then affects everything else.”

How to decide on and use olive oil in your health

To get these health advantages, you'll want to use extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). It comes from the primary pressing of the fruit and is made without heat or chemical extractions – consider it because the freshly squeezed juice of the olive. Because it's so fresh, it incorporates the very best levels of polyphenols.

There isn't any universally accepted dosage, but most clinical studies aim to copy the quantity of the typical Mediterranean weight-reduction plan: two to 4 tablespoons per day. That adds as much as quite rather a lot. In Greece, for instance, the typical person consumes two liters per 30 days! Here within the US, the typical is only a paltry one liter per Year.

“If we all drank two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil a day, we would drink one liter a month,” says Kyriakides. “That's a huge difference.”

And in keeping with Flynn, you might see some positive effects after just three weeks.

Now that you understand what to search for, use the following pointers to decide on one with loads of these helpful polyphenols:

  • You can actually buy polyphenol-rich olive oil on the supermarket. Expensive doesn't necessarily mean one of the best, but low-cost almost actually means you're not getting the advantages. “Think about the labor involved in harvesting olives, producing the oil, bottling it and shipping it for sale,” says Flynn. “With all that, a standard 500ml bottle can cost as much as $10 for American oil, and more like $12-15 from Europe.”
  • For the very best quality oil from the USA, have a look at the ingredients list. It should say “California Olive Oil”. This state has set higher standards for EVOO than the US Department of Agriculture and the International Olive Council, which is chargeable for Europe and the Mediterranean region.
  • One feature that helps you discover a high-quality bottle: the harvest date is printed on the label. The more energizing, the higher.
  • In addition to time, light and temperature may also affect the standard of EVOO. Buy it in metal cans or dark bottles and store it in a cool, dry place. If you should have some next to the stove, use a small jug and refill it as needed.
  • Phenols have flavor! If you'd describe your olive oil as mild, it's probably not EVOO.
  • If the considered drinking a shot of olive oil like in those TikTok videos makes you cringe, don't worry. There are not any studies which have shown that taking it straight provides more advantages. In fact, some vegetables have to be cooked in oil to get their nutrients. If you sauté or roast them in EVOO, you get double the profit.

Can you devour an excessive amount of extra virgin olive oil? In terms of calories, possibly – each tablespoon incorporates 120 of them. But by way of health damage, the reply appears to be no.

“Extra virgin olive oil has no negative effects,” says Flynn. “In fact, you may get even more benefits by consuming more extra virgin olive oil.”