The Wonderful Olive – Its Health Benefits Inside and Out

Packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and good fat, olive oil (a byproduct of olives) works wonders for both a healthy inside and a healthy outside.

The olive, specifically its oil, is a powerful fruit. Ingesting two tablespoons of olive oil a day has been shown to reduce heart disease through its positive impact on overall cholesterol levels. Not only has it been attributed to better heart health, but it also does amazing things for the skin and hair. Though olives and olive oil are not traditional foods in the Western Hemisphere, they are well worth making a tradition here. They are chock full of beneficial nutrients for the body and can be used in home remedies for numerous ailments.

Native to the Mediterranean region, olives have long been an integral part of everyday life for the culture of this sea-faring part of the world. People in the Mediterranean region traditionally have lower rates of heart disease than other parts of the world, which has been attributed at least partly to the high amount of olives and olive oil included in the diet of the Mediterranean peoples. Further, olive oil has been used for thousands of years in the Mediterranean region as a skin and hair cleanser and moisturizer, a tradition that has been gaining increasing momentum in skin and hair care products being developed today.

Nutrients of the olive

Monounsaturated fats
Antioxidants–vitamin E, polyphenols, flavonoids
Dietary Fiber
Vitamin K

What makes monounsatured fats good fats?

Monounsaturated fats are good because they decrease the amount of LDL, i.e., the “bad cholesterol,” in the bloodstream. Too much LDL in the bloodstream will lead to the accumulation of LDL in the arteries, which blocks arteries and leads to high blood pressure and heart disease.

Usually when people hear the word “fat,” they hear “bad for my health.” However, the human body does need some fat; it’s just important that one choose more good fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (as opposed to the saturated and trans- fats). In fact, some of the most essential vitamins cannot be taken up by the body without the assistance of fat. In addition, fats are needed to compose the membranes of cells. Because fats are necessary for heatlh, and some fats are better than others, it’s important to incorporate good fats into one’s diet. Olive oil is a great fat to make part of a balanced daily diet.

Monounsaturated fats + vitamin E = a powerful healthy combo

Vitamin E is an antioxidant, which means it protects DNA, proteins and lipids (fats) from damage. All three of these substances are essential for life. Protecting DNA from damage essentially translates into protecting cells from becoming cancerous. And, by protecting lipids from damage, antioxidants keep cell membranes healthy because cell membranes are composed of lipids. Delivering vitamin E alongside monounsaturated fats, as olive oil does, allows a healthy punch to be driven right to the cells.

The monounsaturated fats allow vitamin E to be easily taken up by the body (vitamin E is one of those essential vitamins that requires lipids–ie fats–to be absorbed). As described above, one of the roles of antioxidants is to protect DNA, protein and lipids from oxidative damage. Therefore, vitamin E returns the favor to the monounsaturated fat (a lipid) by protecting it from this kind of damage. This combination allows healthy lipids to be directed to the cells for incorporation into their membranes, while simultaneously providing antioxidant protection of these lipids. This gives new life to cells.

Olive oil for healthy skin and hair

People began using olive oil 5000 years ago, and they quickly discovered its benefits to a healthy complexion. Many skincare products now contain vitamin E, and more and more are beginning to include olive oil and olive extracts. Olive oil is incredibly moisturizing; a little goes a long way when used as a moisturizer. Contrary to popular belief, it does not clog pores. Using as an overnight moisturizer after washing and toning can produce soft, rested, glowing skin.

Hair can also benefit from the olive’s many attributes. Many hair care products are beginning to contain olive oil and olive extracts. Olive oil can be used to treat an itchy scalp and can be used once a week as an intensive moisture treatment. It can ease frizz and nourish damaged hair.

In addition to its aesthetic benefits, it can help heal small wounds and assist in treating tough dry skin issues such as cracked heels and severe dry skin conditions.

A worthwhile addition to one’s diet and skincare regimen

Olives have a history of contributing positively to health. Several cultures in the Mediterranean region have been studied because of their amazingly low rate of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes and for their longevity. The olive is an integral part of the diets of all these cultures. Because olives and their oil provide so many nutrients–monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, other antioxidants, vitamin K, dietary fiber, and copper–all cells in the body can benefit from the olive.

As part of a well-balanced diet that contains lots of fresh vegetables and fruit, olive oil can be a boon to one’s health. Even in addition to a poor diet, the benefits of the olive will shine through. It is a good replacement for bad fats or for other cooking oils. In addition to being used a cooking oil, olive oil can be added into salad dressing, as a dip for bread, as a topping for pasta, as a marinade for vegetables; and the list goes on.

This amazing fruit that people discovered so long ago to contribute to a healthy body and to beautiful skin and hair is now being rediscovered. Its versatility is amazing. Its many benefits can be enjoyed through both adding it into a healthy diet and into a healthy beauty routine.

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