The Mediterranean diet is well-known for being one of the healthiest, with the health issues within countries that follow this lifestyle being significantly lower than in most of the world. It is suggested that a chunk of that health benefit comes from their consistent use of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.1
Olive Oil is surprisingly nutritious and has a vast range of health benefits. In particular, Extra Virgin Olive Oil - also known as EVOO, has the most health benefits in terms of maintaining a healthy gut microbiome.
EVOO is better for us than regular olive oil as it is the least processed form of olive oil. It can retain more antioxidants and vitamins, as these are often lost during the processing of olive oil.2
What are the Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
Benefits for Gut Bacteria
EVOO affects the gut microbiome by stimulating good bacteria growth, which helps maintain gut health. The gut microbiome must be balanced for optimum health, meaning the good bacteria must be fed well to grow and multiply.
This limits the chances of the gut falling into dysbiosis, which is when the gut is imbalanced. This increases the risk of developing diseases and illness, as the bad bacteria is too powerful compared to the good bacteria.
Benefits for the Heart
The fact that EVOO contains antioxidants is a huge benefit for human health. A particular advantage is that EVOO is full of monounsaturated fats that positively affect heart health.
A diet such as the Mediterranean diet comes with a lower risk of heart disease as well as death for those at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease.3
Benefits for Weight-Loss
Monounsaturated fats also burn calories and fats, meaning EVOO could be a valuable tool for weight loss. These fats have been shown to reduce appetite, prevent overeating, and increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation rate, so calories and fat are burnt faster.4
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is low in calories, and there is no association between EVOO and weight gain, so at the very least, it does not add to the risk of obesity.4
EVOO also increases the production of short-chain fatty acids in the gut microbiome, which can promote weight loss. Short-chain fatty acids can regulate metabolism by increasing fat burning and decreasing fat. storage5
Benefits for the Skin
Having a healthy gut microbiome can improve the appearance of your skin through the gut-skin axis. The gut-skin axis is the relationship between our guts and skin, which communicate mainly via the immune system.
The immune system regulates systemic and local inflammation, so having a healthy gut microbiome can allow the immune system to control inflammation in the skin.6
Acne, eczema, psoriasis and a whole host of skin conditions can be improved when a healthy gut microbiome can appropriately regulate the immune system.
When the intestinal barrier is impaired, intestinal bacteria can enter the bloodstream and disrupt the skin's microbiome by accumulating in the skin.6 This occurs less commonly but is a direct cause of an unhealthy gut.
We know that EVOO can feed the good bacteria in the gut, stopping them from eating the intestinal lining. This suggests EVOO can limit the ability of intestinal bacteria to enter the bloodstream and impact the skin.
The antioxidants that EVOO is packed with can slow down the ageing process,7 which can be a huge benefit for anybody worried about their skin's appearance and health as they age. Maintaining youthful skin appeals to many worldwide, and EVOO can aid in that process.
How is Best to Consume EVOO?
Although it’s OK to consume Extra Virgin Olive Oil when cooked, it’s most nutritious in raw form. Taken on an empty stomach, EVOO's nutrients and benefits can be absorbed faster and better by the body, making it more effective overall.8
Eating a tablespoon (15ml) of EVOO first thing in the morning with a dash of lemon juice is recommended. EVOO isn’t the most appealing food to have first thing, and the dash of lemon boosts the digestive system due to its nutritional benefits as well as making the oil more palatable.7
By boosting your digestive system first thing in the morning, you are giving it a better chance of coping with all of its responsibilities throughout the day.
An additional bonus to consuming EVOO first thing in the morning is its impact on the addictive effects of nicotine. Studies have shown that 5 drops of Olive Oil first thing in the morning can aid in stopping smoking due to relieving the symptoms associated with withdrawal.8
You can also include EVOO in your diet by replacing butter with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Whether that’s in cooking, spreading on toast, seasoning your veggies or within baked goods.9
Salads are another great way to include EVOO; by making your salad dressing, you can get all those health benefits with a great taste. How about a drizzle on a lunchtime soup? You can saute, grill or roast Extra Virgin Olive Oil, so the possibilities are endless.9
Extra Virgin Olive Oil has a wide range of health benefits; it’s an excellent tool for many people with different health goals and needs. The benefits of the gut microbiome allow it to function properly, aiding in overall health and significant bodily functions.
Why not try adding EVOO into your diet? Whether a spoonful in the morning appeals to you or adding it to cooking, it could help you to reach your health goals and beyond.