Olive oil benefits health in a number of ways. Olive oil contains high levels of antioxidants, which can support immune function, prevent some types of cancer and slow the signs of aging. Olive oil also acts as a strong anti-inflammatory, and can reduce the symptoms of conditions like asthma, arthritis and osteoporosis. In addition, olive oil helps regulate the metabolism of fat and sugar; it can improve insulin resistance and helps prevent the accumulation of belly fat, a key factor in the development of type 2 diabetes.
Heart Health Benefits of Olive Oil
Reducing the amount of saturated and trans fats you consume and replacing them with healthy fats, such as the monounsaturated fats found in olive oil, can help protect your heart health. Monounsaturated fats reduce the levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood, and raise levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, to protect your from hypertension, heart attack and heart disease.
Other Health Benefits of Olive Oil
Olive oil is high in antioxidants, so it’s great for your immune system and may help prevent some types of cancer. Olive oil also contains high levels of phytonutrients and polyphenols, which help reduce the inflammation associated with conditions like asthma, osteoporosis and arthritis.
Olive Oil Reduces Belly Fat
Consuming olive oil regularly as part of a diet that’s low in saturated fats and trans fatty acids can help you lose weight. Olive oil helps to control blood sugar levels by lowering insulin resistance, so it’s helpful for those seeking to control or prevent type 2 diabetes. The polyphenols in olive oil help your body secrete adiponectin, a hormone that regulates the metabolism of sugar and fat and improves insulin sensitivity (your body’s ability to use insulin properly to prevent dangerous spikes in blood sugar levels). Inadequate secretion of adiponection can lead to the accumulation of excess fat on the abdomen, which can be a contributing factor in type 2 diabetes.
Olive oil helps your body metabolize fat and sugar effectively so that fat doesn’t accumulate on the abdomen. If you already have belly fat, and are trying to lose weight, adding olive oil to your diet changes your body’s metabolism so that you’ll begin to burn off accumulated belly fat more quickly.
Adding Olive Oil to Your Diet
It’s easy to add olive oil to your diet. You can use olive oil as a substitute when cooking or baking; use virgin or light olive oil for baking and frying. These oils are more thoroughly processed and, while they still contain plenty of healthy monounsaturated fats, they don’t contain the phytonutrients, polyphenols and antioxidants that give olive oil its distinctive flavor. They’re also cheaper than the high quality extra virgin olive oils available.
When substituting olive oil for vegetable and canola oils, use the same amount of oil. Put olive oil into a spray bottle and use it as a substitute for cooking spray. When substituting olive oil for margarine or butter, use three quarters the amount called for by the recipe.
Add olive oil to vinaigrette salad dressings and homemade mayonnaise. Use it as a dipping sauce for bread in place of butter.