Extra-virgin olive oil has long been touted as one of the healthier oils to consume, but what exactly makes it so healthy?
To Cook or Not to Cook with Olive Oil
Though it has been rumored to become unhealthy when cooking at high temperatures, there have been studies that say otherwise. Although, heating olive oil at higher temperatures for extended periods of time may reduce the health benefits of its health-boosting ingredient oleocanthal, according to one study.
It’s a Possible Cancer-Fighter
A recent study has advanced research regarding oleocanthal and its potential ability to fight off cancer cells.
Oleocanthal ruptures a part of the cancerous cell, which causes it to die through release of its own enzymes, the study found. Paul Breslin, professor of nutritional sciences in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University, and David Foster and Onica LeGendre of Hunter College, were the first to find out how oleocanthal kills cancerous cells, which is by rupturing vesicles storing the cell’s waste.
The researchers discovered that the cancer cells were dying within 30 minutes to an hour after applying oleocanthal as opposed to the usual 16 to 24 hours it takes for cell death.
It May Help Your Heart
According to a study found in the journal Pharmacological Research, people who regularly consume olive oil are at lower risk for high blood pressure, stroke, and high cholesterol and triglyceride levels than those who don’t. Olive oil is considered one of the main sources of fat in the Mediterranean diet, a diet which has been associated with a lower risk of death from cardiovascular diseases.
Frying with olive oil doesn’t increase the risk of heart disease, according to a survey of more than 40,000 adults during an 11-year period. This study shows that not all fried foods are automatically bad for the heart, but it’s the method of how they are fried that needs to be taken into consideration.
It May Reduce Your Risk for Depression
People who consumed more trans fats were more likely to develop depression, according to this study. While there may be a link between trans fats and depression, healthier fats, such as mono and polyunsaturated fats and olive oil, may help lower the risk of depression.
It’s not a magical cure, but even a slightly reduced risk of depression that olive oil might provide could be worth adding it to your diet.
It May Even Help for Alzheimer’s
The Alzheimer’s Association says that more than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease and it’s the sixth leading cause of death in the country.
Much is still unknown about the disease, but one of its main features is a buildup of a protein plaque, called beta-amyloid, in the brain. A study in mice showed oleocanthal extracted from extra-virgin olive oil helped clear out this kind of plaque from the brain in the test subjects. Of course this needs further testing, but the early results are promising.