I knew I liked olive oil, but after visiting Spain and Italy, I developed a newfound interest in it, something so basic. As I think about being an intuitive eater, I am reminded that our bodies enjoy foods that are healthful for them – sometimes we simply need to slow down, pay attention and taste. So take a moment to do so, knowing that olive oil is also helping you in a variety of ways, by providing:
- Anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, which may prevent development of heart disease and stroke (by reducing the damage to the heart by atherosclerosis, or the build up of fatty deposits in the inner walls of arteries)
- Anti-oxidants, i.e. vitamin E, which reduce oxygen free radicals in the body, reducing risk of cancer development
- Polyphenols, whichreduce LDL cholesterol levels, and may lower overall cholesterol levels
- Monounsaturated (good) fat–your body needs fat to carry out daily processes, but not harmful saturated fats and hydrogenated oils–monounsaturated fats are helpful in preventing chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes, whereas other types of fats contribute to their development
- Skin health- UV radiation causes oxidation of skin cells, which accelerates appearance of aging and sun damage–antioxidants in olive oil prevent this process
- A few studies have found that olive oil consumption, instead of hydrogenated oil, trans fat, etc. is associated with alower risk of depression, possibly related to anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties of olive oil that boost overall healthy brain functioning.
- May reduce risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, due to oleocanthanal which breaks down neuron-damaging proteins that contribute to the Alzheimer’s development.
The next time you drizzle some olive oil on your salad, or dab it on some fresh bread, notice its flavors and savor the fact that you’re giving yourself something that is truly making your body smile, inside and out.
Christie Caggiani, RD, LDN, CEDRD is Co-Founder and Registered Dietitian at Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches in Delray Beach, Florida.