The fat that comes from the fruit of the olive tree offers a host of health benefits that range from heart health to cognitive function, so it’s no surprise that it’s at the center of some of the healthiest eating approaches, such as the Mediterranean diet.
Just what can olive oil do for you? The main monounsaturated fat found in olive oil, oleic acid, has been found to reduce high blood pressure, which means it can protect you against stroke. In fact, several studies have shown that people who consume lots of olive oil have a lower incidence of stroke.
The oil is also an excellent source of vitamin E, which is a potent antioxidant. It contains polyphenols and can help fight the free radicals that damage cells while stemming unwanted inflammation throughout the body. It can also help protect your liver from damage and oxidative stress.
Perhaps some of its most exciting benefits, however, relate to some of the biggest health issues facing our time – specifically cancer and dementia. Reviews of studies have found that people with high intakes of olive oil were 34 per cent less likely to develop any type of cancer – especially breast cancer – than those with the lowest intake of olive oil. The antioxidant action of polyphenols is believed to be behind this benefit.
Studies have also shown that it can improve your brain function, especially in areas like memory and learning. This means it could be a good way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and similar degenerative diseases related to cognition.