Olive oil is synonymous with health and one of the few foods which almost everyone agrees on when it comes to nutrition! Here's all you need to know about one of the world's healthiest fats.
Where does olive oil come from?
Olive oil - as its name would suggest - is oil derived from the fruit of the olive tree. It is obtained by pressing whole olives to separate their liquid oil from the stone and flesh of the fruit.
The earliest physical evidence of olive oil being utilised as a food dates back to 3500BC. However, research suggests that the first production of olive oil happened even before that, in around 4000BC.
Fast forward to the modern day and olive trees are grown throughout the Mediterranean to produce and export olive oil around the world. This is one food which has really withstood the test of time!
What is the hype around olive oil?
Olive oil is one of the very few foods which many different lifestyle templates can all agree on - it's good for us, all of us! Whether you're Keto, Paleo, Veggie, Vegan, Low Carb, Pescatarian or none of the above - olive oil has a well deserved place on your shopping list.
Olive oil is one of the most popular oils with thanks to its flavour, versatility and - perhaps most important of all - it's unique health benefits.
Nutritional profile of olive oil
1 tablespoon of olive oil provides:
- Of which saturates: 1.9g
- Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA): 9.9g
- Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA): 1.4g
- Of which sugar: 0g
Olive oil is a great fat
Olive oil is a pure fat and so does not contain any protein or carbohydrates. Therefore, its amazing benefits come courtesy of its unique and healthful fatty acid profile.
Most of the fat in olive oil is monounsaturated (MUFA). This kind of fat has a beneficial effect on heart health, helping to raise levels of good cholesterol, lower levels of bad cholesterol and reduce circulating blood triglycerides.
Olive oil is also a great source of Vitamin E and polyphenols, both of which have great antioxidant activity.
Because of its mild and pleasant flavour, you can also drizzle olive oil onto salads and use it as a base for healthy dressings.
5 Incredible health benefits of olive oil
Many of the health benefits of olive oil can be attributed to its incredible nutrient density, providing a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, polyphenols and micronutrients in a very small package.
Here are 5 ways you can benefit by including more olive oil in your diet.
1. Olive oil is anti-inflammatory
Research has shown that olive oil intake can help to reduce inflammation in the body. This is important not only because inflammation is the root cause of many modern chronic health conditions, but also because the vast majority of seed/vegetable oils are pro-inflammatory.
Studies have shown that the high content of oleic acid in olive oil (65-85%) has potent anti-inflammatory effects. This is due to the effect of oleic acid on levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) - a marker for inflammation.
Learn more about the impact of vegetable & seed oils on inflammation in our article:
2. Olive oil is good for cardiovascular health
Olive oil, and interestingly extra virgin olive oil in particular, has been shown to help with high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. These are both risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
One study found that higher olive oil intake was associated with a 15% reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease. Olive oil is also one of the key foods which has been shown to have a beneficial effect on heart health as part of the Mediterranean diet. Showcasing that not all fat is bad, it's just understanding what the right types of fat to consume!
3. Olive oil reduces the risk of chronic disease
We know that diet and lifestyle factors are huge driving forces behind the surge of chronic disease in modern times, but research is ongoing as to which factors in particular are exacerbating this.
Whilst more comprehensive research is needed, early studies have shown an interesting link between polyphenols found in olive oil and a reduction in the risk of chronic disease. These compounds occur naturally in olive oil and have been shown to help modulate immune activity, with potential to prevent the onset of some chronic conditions.
4. Olive oil can help to boost our mood
Healthy fats found in abundance in olive oil have been shown to reduce the risk of depression and even lessen the severity of depressive symptoms.
Associations between olive oil and improved mood are thought to be attributed to the impact of healthy fats on the brain.
Our brains are made up of around 60% fat, so getting enough healthy fatty acids from the diet is a great way to support mental health and wellbeing.
5. Olive oil is good for brain health
The benefits of olive oil for brain health have also been shown to reduce the risk of neurodegenerative conditions.
Research has shown that polyphenols in olive oil can help to delay the onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease, helping to reduce the risk of Dementia.
Which olive oil is best
There are many different types of olive oil including extra virgin, virgin, refined, pure and olive pomace oil. They all differ in how they are extracted and also how they are processed (if at all).
Extra virgin olive oil is considered to be the holy grail of olive oil. It is the least processed and is unrefined - meaning it has not been extracted with heat or chemicals and there is no filtering involved.
Being minimally processed allows extra virgin olive oil to retain its natural vitamins and antioxidants, as well as the strongest flavour. You may also see light olive oil, which can be Extra Virgin standard but then filtered to remove sediment. When opting for Olive Oil, ensure that the oil has not been hexane or solvent extracted.
Hunter & Gather 100% Olive Oil Dressings & Limited Edition Mayo
When it comes to healthy fats, we just can't help ourselves! Turning them into amazingly nutritious and delicious foods for you to enjoy is something we just can't resist!
So, when dreaming up the next Keto and Paleo products to join our real food range, olive oil was at the top of our list.
A drizzle, dunk or dollop of each is all you need to get the amazing health benefits of olive oil - in an incredibly tasty vessel! Like all of our food family, our new olive oil items are 100% free from seed oils, refined sugar and grains...