Top Health Benefits of Olive Oil

The numerous health benefits of olive oil run almost as deep as its history. It may appear simple, but in fact, is one of the most complex oils used today. In order to reap the wide range of health benefits, we must take time to understand the creation process and the different types.

History

The exact origin of olive oil remains unknown, but evidence of the existence of olives dates back farther than 6,000 years ago. As one of the oldest cultivated trees, it first grew in Crete, Greece in 3500BC. At that time, the tree spread to the Mediterranean basin, which includes African shores and Southern Europe. In 2000BC, olives were found inside Egyptian tombs; additionally, that date is when cultivation began to play a major role in the Crete economy. Crete began the first olive export to Greece, Asia Minor, and Northern Africa. Olives were a luxury in Greece and it became not only a food item, but was highly regarded as a beauty treatment.

Types of Oil

Most countries utilize the International Olive Oil Council to define quality and standards; however, the United States does not adhere to these standards. Instead, the United States follows the USDA’s 1948 Classification System, which includes the following qualities: extra-virgin, virgin, refined, pure, olive pomace, refined olive pomace, and lite. Please read the following for descriptions of the most common types:

Extra-virgin oil is the highest quality due to its high mineral and vitamin content. In order for olive oil to be considered extra-virgin, the oil must be produced by extraction methods that contain no chemicals or hot water, be first cold-pressed, have an acidity level of less than 1 percent, and have perfect taste.

Virgin olive oil, like extra-virgin, is first-cold pressed and produced without chemicals or hot water; however, virgin oil may contain an acidity level up to 3.3 percent. The flavor can vary and the taste is less mild than extra-virgin varieties.

Refined olive oil is created by refining virgin oil. The acidity level is greater than 3.3 percent; the finished product is tasteless and the odor is unpleasant.

Pure olive oil is a mix of virgin and refined. It has the same acidity level as virgin and can withstand high heat. The nutritional content is lower than virgin oil, which make it inexpensive compared to high quality oils. Pure oil is commonly used as all-purpose oil.

Light and extra-light are types of oils that contrary to the name do not contain less calories, but are a blend of refined oils that are made from the lowest quality oils created through chemical processing.

Health Benefits

Olive oil is composed of monounsaturated fat, which is considered a healthy fat. Introducing monounsaturated fats into your diet is healthier than ingesting saturated and trans fats. Monounsaturated fats offer a plethora of health benefits, when used in moderation. The following is a list of all of the wonderful health benefits it can impart.

It has the capability to lower blood pressure due to containing beneficial antioxidants, which are most prevalent in extra-virgin oil. The antioxidants, called polyphenol, are believed to be the primary source to help lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure. To receive maximum benefits, men should consume four tablespoons and women should consume three tablespoons, daily.

Research shows that monounsaturated fats, as found in olive oil, contain oleic acid and is capable of reducing the instance of cancer. Oleic acid is capable of reducing the effect of the cancer forming gene, called oncogene. Olive oil is noted to positively help breast, prostate, and colon cancer.

Olive oil is able to control blood sugar specifically by lowering blood glucose levels. Diabetics, or border-line diabetics, are instructed to follow a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet. Olive oil can help control blood sugar even if diabetics switch to a high fat diet, considering most of that fat comes from olive oil.

Monounsaturated fats that are found in plant oils are best at controlling good and bad cholesterol. Consumption can help your body rid itself of bad cholesterol, known as LDL cholesterol. Additionally, this oil does not negatively effect the levels of good cholesterol, known as HDL cholesterol. In fact, it can even raise the levels of HLD cholesterol providing a double benefit.

Researchers state that the extra-virgin variety contains an anti-inflammatory ingredient. The ingredient, oleocanthal, helps it to act as a pain reducer, much like over-the-counter aspirin. It will not show immediate results, but can provide pain reducing benefits if consistently ingested over a period of time.

How to Cook with Olive Oil

Now that the health benefits have been explained, let’s discuss some of the common methods of how to cook with this oil.

High quality, extra-virgin oils should be reserved for use in dressings, dips, and vinaigrettes. Replace oil for butter in baked potatoes, or brush onto cooked vegetables or fish. Sprinkle rosemary, basil, cracked black pepper, and sea salt on top of extra-virgin oil for a delicious bread dip.

If you are to saut or fry, choose a combination oil which is a mix of extra-virgin and regular olive oil. Use olive oil grade for deep-frying which works wonderful due to its high smoke point of 410 degrees Fahrenheit.

One additional way to incorporate olive oil into your diet: use it for non-stick oil when a recipe calls for butter or spray oil. Drizzle onto your pan and spread evenly with a paper towel to ensure complete coverage.

Who Should Avoid Olive Oil

Allergies are uncommon, but should not be ignored. In most cases, an allergy is a mild occurrence and the symptoms will go away in a short amount of time. On the other hand, a person can experience a more severe allergic reaction, which can lead to anaphylactic shock. A person who suspects an allergy should take note of the following symptoms: stomach or chest pain, rash, migraine, or red, itchy eyes. These allergies are rare and as a key part of theMediterraneandiet, the health benefits of olive oil are well recognized and enjoyed by millions.

Top Health Benefits of Carrots

The health benefits of carrots can be traced back to when it was originally cultivated in the Middle Eastern, central Asian countries and parts of Europe thousands of years ago. These original carrots did not resemble the carrots we see today. There were purple, red and yellow colored carrots. During the 15th and 16th centuries in Europe, carrots were widely cultivated and were initially brought to North America around this time.

In the commercial marketplace today, China produces approximately one-third of all the carrots that are bought and sold all over the world. Russia is second and the United States is a close third. Currently American adults consume approximately 12 pounds of carrots yearly.

The name “carrot” is derived from the word “karoton”, which is Greek. The first three letters -kar designate a horn-like shape, referring to the part of the carrot that is underground and generally eaten.

The Nutrient Value of the Raw Carrot

The Food Chart that details the percentage of daily value of a single serving of carrots shows that each serving provides an excellent, very good or good %DV of the necessary nutrients and confirms the health benefits of carrots. Because of this, carrots are considered one of the world’s healthiest foods. Carrots contain over 80 nutrients. One cup (122.00 grams) of raw carrots has 52.46 calories.

Health Benefits of Carrots

The carrot a root vegetable that is renowned for its rich supply of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant nutrient that gained its name from the carrot because of the large quantities the carrot contains.

A carrot contains many other nutrients as well. The carrot offers a multitude of other nutrients that benefit the cardiovascular system, have anti-cancer properties and assist the immune system.

Antioxidant Benefits in the Carrot

All the different varieties of the carrot contain very valuable amounts of nutrients with antioxidant values. The more traditional antioxidant vitamin C and the phytonutrient antioxidant beta-carotene are just a couple of the many antioxidants the carrot contains.

The amount of phytonutrient antioxidants varies depending on the variety of carrot. For example, the purple and red carrots are well-known for their abundance of the antioxidant anthocyanin. The orange carrots are loaded with beta-carotene, accounting for 65% of their entire carotenoid content. Half of the yellow carrots carotenoids are from lutein. It does not matter which variety is chosen, each contains excellent antioxidant benefits.

The Cardiovascular Benefits of the Carrot

It is not a surprise that numerous studies have shown that the health benefits of carrots extend to cardiovascular benefits. Much of this is due to their rich antioxidant content. The cardiovascular system is in need of constant protection from free radical damage. This is especially true for the arteries because they are responsible for transporting highly oxygenated blood throughout the body.

In a study that was recently done in the Netherlands, participants were monitored over a period of ten years. This study has provided us with some riveting new information concerning carrots and the role they play in preventing cardiovascular disease (CVD).

During this study the participants’ fruit and vegetable intake was categorized according to color. The focus of this study was on four colors: orange/yellow, green, white and red/purple.

The orange/yellow variety of fruits and vegetables was found to be more protective against CVD than the other colors. The deeper the shade of orange/yellow the more protection the food offered.

In the dark orange/yellow group of foods, carrots were found to be the one main risk-reducing food concerning CVD. The participants who did not eat very many carrots had the smallest amount of risk reduction for CVD. Even so, they still received some reduced risk of CVD from their carrot intake.

Participants, who consumed 25 more grams, which is almost one-quarter cup of carrots, had a significant decrease in their risk of CVD. The participants who consumed 50 to 75 grams more demonstrated an even higher reduction in their risk of CVD. This study surely demonstrates how easily the risk of CVD can be reduced. The best-researched polyacetylenes found in the carrot are falcarindiol and falcarinol. Preliminary research has shown that the polyacetylenes that are found in the carrot have anti-aggregatory properties and anti-inflammatory properties. The anti-aggregatory properties assist in preventing the red blood cells from excessively clumping together.

The Carrot and Vision Health

Growing up our parents always told us to eat our carrots because they were good for our eyes. However, there are not many studies documenting the benefit of carrot consumption on human eye health. The majority of studies have focused on the carotenoid levels in the bloodstream and the carotenoids activity themselves, not the foods, like carrots, that contain them. Even so, there have been smaller scale studies done on humans that show benefits to the health of the eye with the consumption of carrots.

For example, one study showed that women who consumed carrots no less than twice weekly have a lower rate of glaucoma (optic nerve damage generally associated with excessive eye pressure) than women who only consumed carrots on occasion.

Geranyl acetate is one of the photonutrients present in the carrot seed and has been shown to reduce the risk of cataracts in animal studies.

The Anti-Cancer Benefits of Carrots

The majority of the research on the cancer fighting benefits of the carrot was in the area of colon cancer. Some participants in the studies actually drank carrot juice. Other research studied the various human cancer cells in the lab.

Much more research is necessary; however, the results of the studies that have been done to date have been very encouraging. Lab studies indicate that carrot extracts have the ability to inhibit the growth of the cancer cells of the colon. The polyacetylenes that are found in the carrot, especially falcarinol, have been particularly linked to inhibiting the growth of these cells.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas