Olive oil is perhaps one of nature’s perfect foods. Low-carbohydrate diets like the Mediterranean, Paleo, and ketogenic diets all promote the liberal use of olive oil. What is it about olive oil that makes it so good for us? Olive oil has over 30 phenolic compounds that are rich antioxidants and radical scavengers. Free radicals are a natural part of the body’s oxidation process, but too many of them cause internal inflammation and damage blood vessels. Chronic inflammation has been linked to most chronic diseases (heart disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases). Olive oil is considered a healthy source of fat, and using liberal amounts of high-quality olive oil is an excellent way to lose weight and stay healthy.
It’s a myth that the more fat we consume, the fatter we will be. Consuming appropriate amounts of high-quality fats helps people lose weight. Healthy fats also provide additional benefits such as lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease, and reducing brain fog. If you are following a low-carb diet like the ketogenic diet, you can consume lots of healthy fats. A new book by Bill McIntosh called BodyReboot, provides tips, tricks, shopping lists and recipes to get started on a ketogenic diet. If you are interested in learning how easy it is to get started, check out this FREE book offer from the BodyReboot program.
The Crazy Way Olive Oil Helps You Lose Weight
Here’s something crazy. Even the smell of olive oil may help you lose weight:
When it comes to eating a healthy diet, olive oil is your best friend. It tastes delicious, it’s full of healthy, good-for-your-heart fats, and it might even help fight off dangerous belly bugs. But there’s another way this golden health elixir can make your life better—and you don’t even need to eat it. Simply smelling olive oil may help you lose weight, according to a recent study in the American Journal of Nutrition.
Over two days, 11 male subjects were given low-fat yogurt, and half of the subjects received yogurt mixed with fat-free olive oil extract. After the snack, German researchers measured the men’s brain activity.
The group who ate yogurt with the extract had increased blood flow in brain areas typically associated with fat consumption—even though the overall fat content of the snack was low. That’s all thanks to the scent of olive oil, which might help you feel full, according to the researchers. (This isn’t the first time studies have shown that olive oil can increase feelings of satiety and fullness.)
“Dietary fat is rewarding,” said Dr. Andreas Fritsche, study co-author and nutritional medicine professor at the University Hospital Tübingen in Germany. So rewarding, in fact, that it could be used as an effective dieting tool, though further studies are needed. “If you eat a fat-free aroma extract which is commonly associated with fat, it is possible that you get the rewarding effect of fat-triggered sensations without calories,” Dr. Fritsche said.
Olive Oil Helps You Feel Full Longer
In addition to helping you lose weight, olive oil helps you feel full longer. Feeling full longer reduces hunger helping to avoid snacking. Also, by feeling full longer, there are fewer drops in blood sugar allowing your brain to work at optimal performance levels for longer periods of time.
Olive oil keeps people feeling fuller longer than other edible fats, including lard, butterfat, and rapeseed oil, according to a study from Technische Universität München and the University of Vienna.
Study participants were asked to eat two cups of defatted yogurt, infused with one of the aforementioned fats, every day for three months. When the trial was over, those who consumed the olive oil not only reported feeling fuller on a day-to-day basis, but also boasted higher levels of serotonin—a hormone associated with feelings of satiety—compared to those consuming other fats.
Researchers suspect that this full feeling is due to two aromatic compounds found in olive oil. Both compounds actually slow the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream. “When glucose is absorbed quickly, it can cause a rapid rise in blood sugar—and in turn, a rapid decrease,” says Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, assistant director for the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition. “If a food can slow that absorption down, the ‘crash’ is avoided and there is an increased feeling of satiety.”
That’s not to say you should start dousing everything in olive oil—most contain around 125 calories per tablespoon. Instead, this research suggests that olive oil, when used instead of other fats and as part of a balanced diet, can simply make you feel more satisfied after your meal.
To reap the benefits of olive oil, experts involved in the study recommend consuming it at room temperature: Volatile compounds usually evaporate during the cooking process, so researchers aren’t sure if olive oil’s benefits persist when it’s heated up.
More Health Benefits of Olive Oil
Here are some additional health benefits of consuming olive oil:
Studies have shown that extra-virgin olive oil lowers “bad” cholesterol and cuts your risk of heart disease and stroke. It may help protect you against cancer, especially cancer of the breast, prostate, and colon. It can be a godsend for arthritis sufferers because it can reduce inflammation and ease joint pain without side effects.
Olive oil has also been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of diabetes, and may even help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. If you want to avoid osteoporosis, it’s outstanding because it enables the calcium in your food to be better absorbed into your bones. Finally, it’s loaded with antioxidants and polyphenols, which help regulate your immune system in protecting your body against disease.
Olive oil is filled with compounds that are good for our health. Olive oil can help you lose weight, feel full longer, reduce internal inflammation, reduce the risk of heart disease, and reduce brain fog. Be careful when using olive oil during cooking because, at high temperatures, olive oil loses many of its beneficial properties. Always purchase high-quality extra virgin olive oil to get the maximum health benefits.
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Covas, María-Isabel, et al. “Minor components of olive oil: evidence to date of health benefits in humans.” Nutrition Reviews 64.suppl_4 (2006): S20-S30.
Covas, María-Isabel, et al. “The effect of polyphenols in olive oil on heart disease risk factors: a randomized trial.” Annals of internal medicine 145.5 (2006): 333-341.
Flynn, Mary M. (06/2010). “Comparing an Olive Oil-Enriched Diet to a Standard Lower-Fat Diet for Weight Loss in Breast Cancer Survivors: A Pilot Study”. Journal of women’s health (Larchmont, N.Y. 2002) (1540-9996), 19 (6), 1155.
Pérez‐Jiménez, Francisco, et al. “The influence of olive oil on human health: not a question of fat alone.” Molecular nutrition & food research 51.10 (2007): 1199-1208.
Tuck, Kellie L., and Peter J. Hayball. “Major phenolic compounds in olive oil: metabolism and health effects.” The Journal of nutritional biochemistry 13.11 (2002): 636-644.