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Olive Oil: Nutritional Facts and Health Benefits 

Olive oil is one of the healthiest oils in the world (Image by Pixabay)
Olive oil is one of the healthiest oils in the world (Image by Pixabay)
Tooba Hashmi

Olive oil has become a staple in most kitchens these days, and people have accepted it with open arms because of its numerous health benefits. Extra-virgin olive oil is widely regarded as one of the healthiest oils available and is especially loved by fitness freaks.

Are you considering including it in your diet? Let's dive into the nutritional values and benefits of olive oil so that you can make an educated decision.


What is olive oil?

Olive oil is squeezed and extracted from whole olives, the fruit of the olive tree which is the primary crop in the Mediterranean region. The oil is then utilized in the production of a wide range of products, including cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, soaps, and, of course, food.

There are many varieties of olive oils. How acidic it is and how much it has been processed determines whether it is termed virgin, extra-virgin, or pure. What sets olive oil apart from other oils is that it is obtained from the fruit itself, rather than from a seed, nut, or grain.

Production of Olive Oil

Olive oil is made by grinding olives and using mechanical or chemical methods to extract the oil. Green olives generate more bitter oil, and overripe olives can produce oil with fermentation flaws. Thus, it's important to make sure the olives are ideally matured for good extra virgin olive oil.

Nutritional value of olive oil

You'll find the following components in each tablespoon (tbsp) of extra-virgin olive oil:

  • 120 calories
  • 0 gm protein (g)
  • 14 g fat
  • 2 g saturated fat
  • 10 g MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids)
  • 1.5 g polyunsaturated fat (PUFA)
  • 0 g of carbohydrates
  • 0 g fiber
  • 0 g of sugar

9.86 grams of monounsaturated fat, 1.42 grams of polyunsaturated fat, and 1.86 grams of saturated fat make up one tablespoon of olive oil. Olive oil has 119 calories per tablespoon, making it a calorie-dense food.

Although it is heavy in fat, olive oil is a healthy type of fat that has been linked to improved physiological health. It also contains a number of essential elements, including vitamin E, vitamin K, and trace levels of potassium.


Health benefits of olive oil

Ever wondered why fitness enthusiasts and nutritionists swear by olive oil? Here's why:

Loaded with monounsaturated fats

Saturated fat accounts for 14% of olive oil, while polyunsaturated fats such as omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids account for 11%. Olive oil is high in oleic acid, which is a type of monounsaturated fatty acid. This fatty acid is said to provide a variety of health benefits.

Monounsaturated fats can minimise your risk of heart disease and stroke by lowering harmful cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. They also contain nutrients that aid in the development and maintenance of your body's cells.


Good for cardiovascular health

Polyphenols are plant-based chemicals that we obtain from particular diets. They are high in antioxidants and prove to be a healthy addition to most types of diets.

Polyphenols are abundant in olive oil and help protect the heart from various pulmonary diseases. This is due to polyphenols' ability to prevent blood platelets from clumping together, which is a leading cause of heart attacks. Olive oil contains vitamin K, which aids in improving bone health.


Better memory and brain function

Olive oil consumption has been linked to a reduction in cognitive deterioration, according to research. This is especially crucial as we become older, when our cognitive ability naturally slows and it becomes more difficult to recall specific information.

The progression of neurodegenerative illnesses, such as Alzheimer's disease, is linked to stress. However, the polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil act as powerful antioxidants, which may assist to counteract this effect.


Antibacterial properties

Olive oil polyphenols also have antimicrobial effects. Many elements in olive oil can suppress or destroy dangerous germs. A study found that consuming 30 grams of extra virgin olive oil daily for two weeks can remove Helicobacter pylori infection in people. Helicobacter pylori is a bacterium that can cause stomach ulcers and cancer, and extra virgin olive oil's antibacterial characteristics help prevent that.

Maintaining healthy gut

Everything from digestion to mood to skin appearance is influenced by your gut microbiome, so keeping it healthy is in your best interest. Olive oil aids in the battle against bacterial overgrowth in the stomach.


Takeaway

High-quality extra virgin olive oil boosts your heart, brain, joints, and more because of its potent antioxidants. However, no matter how healthy, it's still fat and should be taken in moderation. If consumed in excess, it might cause weight gain, which in turn might cause other health issues.

Olive oil might also not be for everyone, and if you're unsure about adding it to your diet, it's better to consult a clinical nutritionist before making a decision.


Edited by Sabine Algur

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