04 Jun The benefits of extra virgin olive oil: a precious ally for our healt
Extra virgin olive oil is widely acknowledged to possess many health benefits. But exactly what are its properties? Let’s see the most important.
It protects the heart
Extra virgin olive oil has the best balance of fatty compounds. It is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, which help prevent cardiovascular diseases. The most abundant and important of these is oleic acid: studies suggest that it can regulate cholesterol levels and prevent the hardening of arteries, thus reducing the risk of strokes, coronary artery diseases and thrombosis.
It is a natural antioxidant
Extra virgin olive oil is a natural source of vitamin E, sometimes referred to as the beauty vitamin. This compound is a powerful antioxidant, protecting cell membranes from the free radical that cause aging.
Vitamin E possesses a slight vasodilatory effect, as well as being a natural antithrombotic, and studies suggest it can reinforce the walls of the capillaries. Just like oleic acid, vitamin E raises the levels of HdL, the so-called “good” cholesterol, thus decreasing the risk of artery obstruction and cardiovascular diseases.
It is rich in polyphenols
Polyphenols too are powerful antioxidants. These compounds are naturally present in the pulp of the olives, and play a fundamental role in establishing and preserving the organoleptic features of oil: the pungent, bitter notes typical of extra virgin oil can be ascribed to the presence of polyphenols. As well as counteracting aging, these compounds possess antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
It helps prevent skin cancer
Ample scientific evidence links squalene, a compound naturally present in extra virgin olive oil, to the prevention of skin cancer. Olive oil markedly extends human lifespan, and in the two countries where olive oil consumption is highest, namely Italy and Greece, life expectancy is longer than in northern European countries, despite the greater exposure to sun and higher percentage of smokers.
It is suitable for babies and children
Extra virgin olive oil is more digestible than any other type of vegetable oil, butter or animal fats. It is for this reason that it can be safely used when weaning babies.