In addition to being delicious and versatile, olive oil is a distinctly healthy product for consumers and our environment.
Scientific research has indicated olive oil can assist in the fight against heart disease, cancer, diabetes and, most recently, Alzheimers. And, olives can be an important crop for the environment, particularly in areas with limited water resources.
As a food, olive oil is an essential component of the Mediterranean diet with health benefits from its antioxidants, as well as the type of fat for which it is a source.
Extra virgin olive oil has been shown to be effective against some types of cancers, “possibly on account of its antioxidant properties attributable both to oleic acid itself and to the presence of other nutrients, such as vitamin E and polyphenols.” 1
Olive oil is also known as one of the best sources of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), which have been found to lower total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and may help normalize blood clotting. And some research shows MUFAs may also benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful for type 2 diabetes. 2
“Oleocanthal, a phenolic component of extra-virgin olive oil, has been recently linked to reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).” 3
For our changing environment, with concerns about water resources in many regions and countries, olives can also be a responsible planting alternative. Olives are “considered drought tolerant and trees can survive on shallow soils with little supplemental water beyond winter rainfall.” 4 In fact, olive trees can thrive in fairly dry climates, requiring only limited amounts of water compared with other fruit trees.
1 British Journal of Cancer (2014) 111, 981–986. doi:10.1038/bjc.2014.329 www.bjcancer.com Published online 17 June 2014
2 Dr. Donald D. Hensrud, Div. of Endocrinology, Diabetes, Metabolism, & Nutrition at Mayo Clinic.
3 ACS Chem. Neurosci., 2013, 4 (6), pp 973–982 DOI: 10.1021/cn400024q Publication Date (Web): February 15, 2013
4 Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California