5 ways olive oil keeps you healthy

Greeks know how to eat well. Their typical diet includes lots of fruits, vegetables, and grains - and fat. But not just any fat. Unlike the standard American diet, where most of the fat comes from animal products, the Mediterranean diet uses olive oil as its main source of fat.

Olive oil, made by pressing ripe olives, is 77 percent monounsaturated fat, the good kind that helps rather than hurts your body. It’s also rich in Vitamin E and has several compounds scientists believe resist cancer. This flavorful oil fights heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes, and as a mild laxative, olive oil may also help with gallbladder problems. Now here’s what you don’t get with olive oil: cholesterol, salt, or gluten. And it has very little saturated or “bad” fat that can raise cholesterol and cause all sorts of health problems.


* TRUMPS HEART DISEASE - In spite of their high-fat diet, the Greeks hardly ever develop heart disease or hardening of the arteries, called arteriosclerosis. This is partly because their diet includes foods rich in fiber like grains, fruits, and vegetables. However another important part is the monounsaturated fat from olive oil.

Unlike people, not all fats or cholesterols are created equal. Monounsaturated fat, the kind you find in olive oil, gives you the biggest benefit because it cuts down on the bad cholesterol without harming the good cholesterol. And experts think olive oil decreases your blood’s stickiness - making it less likely to clot. This lowers your blood pressure and your risk for stroke. Remember high blood pressure contributes to heart disease because your heart has to work harder than it should.

* HALTS THOSE HUNGER PANGS - The type of fat you eat at lunch could affect how hungry you are at dinner. Anyone battling extra pounds know the growl in your belly is hard to ignore. But if you are 20 to 30 percent over the average weight for your age, sex, and height, it is vitally important you take back control of your weight. Not only are you a prime candidate for high blood pressure and diabetes, but some cancers, as well.

Researchers at Penn State university found oils rich in monounsaturated fat, like olive oil, fill you up more than others. In their study, people who ate mashed potatoes prepared with olive oil were less hungry later in the day than people who ate the same food cooked with polyunsaturated oils.

* TAKES AIM AGAINST ARTHRITIS - The next time you bring home a bag of produce, stir-fry it in olive oil and you may ward off rheumatoid arthritis. Perhaps it’s the monounsaturated fat that stops inflammation in your joints, or it might be the antioxidants that lock up dangerous free radicals. Whatever the reason, those who are the least olive oil in a clinical study were more than twice as likely to develop this painful condition. The combination of fresh vegetables and olive oil seemed to be especially beneficial.

* KEEPS CANCER AT BAY - Free radicals roam throughout your body causing potential damage, including cancer. Fortunately, olive oil contains antioxidants, which keep free radicals in check. Studies show that adding olive oil to your diet may reduce your risk of breast, colorectal, prostate, and esophageal cancers.

* DEFENDS AGAINST DIABETES - Because olive oil can slash the amount of LDL and total cholesterol as well as triglycerides, or fats, in your blood, it helps reduce your risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. It also seems to lower your blood sugar, or glucose, levels. High blood sugar is a key symptom of diabetes. Once again, the benefit comes from monounsaturated fat. However, if you are diabetic, avoid too much of a good thing. A high-fat diet can lead to obesity and other health risks.


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