Olive Oil Can Improve Your Health: Here’s How

Olive oil has long been considered one of the healthiest fats, and new research is continuing to support this idea. In particular, a recent study found different qualities of extra-virgin olive oil can provide a variety of health benefits. And Healthline says extra-virgin varieties boast both better flavor and more nutrients than other types of olive oil.

One of the reasons the condiment gets so much glory is because it’s predominantly a monounsaturated fat, which may help with a wide array of health issues. If you’ve had your doubts about the powers of this tasty condiment, then listen up. Here are five ways olive oil can improve your health.

1. It may help with bone and digestive health

man holding his stomach with hands in a heart shape

Olive oil can help with digestive health. | iStock.com

Olive oil is rich in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage, in part due to their anti-inflammatory properties. And the health benefits of olive oil don’t stop there. According to CNN, scientists have been exploring the effects that such polyphenols have on bone and digestive health. The Olive Oil Times notes this fat in large amounts can help improve bone mineralization and calcification. As odd as it sounds, olive oil may ward off osteoporosis.

2. Decreased risk of heart disease

doctor in a white coat holding a symbol to indicate heart health

Olive oil can help your heart. | iStock.com

While olive oil has long been associated with a decreased risk of heart disease, further research has shown even more detailed explanation of olive oil’s cardioprotective effect. One of the key polyphenols in olive oil — hydroxytyrosol (HT) — works at a genetic level to help the blood vessels strong, according to The World’s Healthiest Foods. Furthermore, HT helps protect the blood vessel cells by triggering changes at a genetic level.

3. Decreased risk of cancer

Eighteen-year-old cancer patient Patrick McGill looks at a rack holding bags of chemotherapy

Olive oil may help keep cancer away. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

While this is a big claim, olive oil has indeed been linked to a lower risk of cancer. According to the Olive Oil Times, a phytonutrient in olive oil called oleocanthal helps in reducing inflammation, which can decrease the risk of breast cancer and its recurrence. Additional olive oil components being studied for their possible effects on cancer include squalene and lignans.

4. May help with diabetes

man checking blood sugar level by glucometer

Your diabetes risk could reduce. | iStock.com/dolgachov

As mentioned, the main type of fat in olive oil is monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which are considered healthy. According to Mayo Clinic, research shows MUFAs may also benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which is helpful to a person who has, or is at risk of, type-2 diabetes.

5. Better cognitive function and memory

flask filled with olive oil

Olive oil can improve your brain, too. | iStock.com

Olive oil intake could even boost your memory, according to a study published in the Annals of Neurology. In the study, researchers examined the relationship between the intake of major fatty acids and late-life cognitive trajectory among 6,183 older participants. The participants were tested over a course of four years. At the end of the trial, researchers found a higher intake of saturated fats was associated with worse cognitive health, including memory, while higher intake of monounsaturated fats was associated with better cognitive health.