Longevity with Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (EVVO)
The term virgin universally means the oil was processed by the use of mechanical means only, with no chemical treatment or added solvents. This makes the oil retain its nutrients and therefore, its healthful properties. Extra virgin olive oil is the highest grade of olive oil.
Health Benefits of Virgin Olive Oil:
Olive oil is the most prominent feature of the Mediterranean diet regimen, a diet that is considered to be connected with the prevention of chronic degenerative diseases and extending longevity. Of course, olive oil is the only type of fat used in this diet or we may say the “exclusive dietary fat” characteristic of the Mediterranean diet.
Studies on olive oil have always linked it with better overall health as it contains many beneficial organic compounds and nutritional properties, such as polyphenolic compounds, mono unsaturated fatty acids (80% of the total fat), tocopherols, carotenoids and more.
Non-communicable diseases, such as high blood pressure, obesity, heart diseases, diabetes type 2, etc. are on a rise all through the world. These are causing a decline in overall health, early aging and untimely deaths globally.
Some studies have shown that people on diets made from olive oil reported a decrease in blood pressure. Consumption of 10-15 ml of olive oil per day was shown to reduce the BP significantly, improving overall health and reducing risk of heart diseases,
Obesity is on an increase worldwide, which increased by 12% in males and 13% in females in the last 5 years, according to a recent survey in India. Obesity is a major risk factor for development of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, bone problems, cancers, early ageing and even death. Several studies have reported a consumption of olive oil, independent of the type of diet followed, causes reduction in weight and risk of ageing.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer all over the world and is one of the most important causes of death among women especially in developing countries like India. Data from studies has shown evidence that olive oil intake has an inverse relation with risk of developing breast cancer. Some trials concluded that women who consumed an additional 5% of the total day’s calories from EVVO had a reduced incidence of breast cancer development. These women exhibited up to 68% lower risk of developing breast cancer compared to women not consuming this additional quantity of EVVO.
There has been found to be an inverse relation between regular consumption of olive oil and deaths due to heart disease. This was found not to be related to the mono- unsaturated fat content but rather to the polyphenols and other antioxidants found in olive oil.
Historically olive oil has been used not only for cooking, but also as medicine, as a fuel for burning lamps, for skin care, and production of other cosmetics. Let us now enumerate its benefits for skin and hair.
Scientific evidence suggests that eating about 2 tablespoons (23 g) of olive oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to the monounsaturated fat in olive oil and improve life expectancy. To achieve this possible benefit, olive oil is to replace a similar amount of saturated fat and not increase the overall number of calories consumed in a day.
Olive oil also helps to reduce ageing of the skin because of its antioxidant properties. Olive oil also helps in wound healing and acts as a barrier to the microorganism attempting to enter the body via skin. Due to the unique combination of phenolic compounds in olive oil, it has anti-ageing, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-microbial properties.
The fatty acids found in olive oil, that is, oleic and linoleic acid, are both part of cells of the skin. These fatty acids help to maintain the integrity of the skin and also keep it hydrated, thus making it strong and supple at the same time. The occlusive effect of olive oil decreases the loss of water from the skin and improves skin cell production.
Skin rashes and inflammation of the skin, due to any reason, lead to loss of water from the skin. Regular application of olive oil may help restore hydration and reduce inflammation. This must, however, be done under the guidance of an expert and with the approval of the treating physician.
Abrasions and skin injury may sometimes lead to internal tissue damage. Topical application of olive oil has been shown to accelerate wound healing and prevent further damage.
Studies have shown that the deficiency of linoleic acid, (which is abundant in olive oil) results in scaly and itchy skin disorder. Regular consumption and also the topical application of olive oil has been shown to have therapeutic effects and may also serve as helpful add-on to standard therapeutic regimens for most skin disorders.
During the process of ageing the skin becomes thin, loses elasticity, becomes rough, wrinkled and dry and there is impairment of the skin barrier function. The causes could be chronological or environmental. All these happen due to reduction in the antioxidants normally present in healthy skin. Topical application along with regular consumption of olive improves the overall antioxidant levels in the skin and decelerates the ageing process.
Topical application of olive oil has been shown to improve the bioavailability of nutrients present in it, both locally (that is, in skin and hair wherever it is applied) and generally (overall).
Olive oil has emollient properties, so it seals the hair cuticle and traps moisture inside. This makes the hair look shinier and nourished and not dry and frizzy.
Olive oil has photo-protective properties, which means it protects hair from damage by ultra-violet rays. This property of olive oil is due to the presence of hydroxytyrosol, a polyphenol.
Olive oil has been shown to produce promising results in improving symptoms of psoriasis, when used in combination with some other ingredients. A mixture of olive oil, beeswax and honey have shown substantial improvement in the symptoms such as scaling, redness and itching.
Ms Sunita Roy Chowdhury, Senior Nutritionist, Dietician and Nutrition Educator
Healthynudgez and Guiding Stars Open Learning Academy,
Under the banner of SS Guiding Stars Pvt. Ltd.
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