Health benefits of Olive oil can be attributed to the presence of nutrients such as omega-3, oleocanthal, phenolic compounds, selenium and vitamins. Olive oil is an integral component of the Mediterranean diet which is considered to be one of the healthiest diets.
It is known to provide protection against cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and even cancer. Olive oil has proved useful in skin and hair care, and if used in food instead of saturated fats, it may aid in weight loss as well.
The mono-unsaturated healthy fats such as omega-3 give olive oil its anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation, as we know, is linked to number of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, asthma and cancer.
Olive oil is also very high in anti-oxidant content. Anti-oxidants help prevent cell damage through free radical scavenging and also help repair cell damage. Increased anti-oxidants in the body slow down the process of aging and may even increase longevity.
Scientists have recently discovered that a good quality extra-virgin olive oil contains a natural organic compound called oleocanthal
which is responsible for the peppery sting of the oil and which has anti-inflammatory as well as anti-oxidant properties. This compound has shown to inhibit the activity of enzymes involved in inflammation much the same way as the NSAIDs.
The following quote by the American journalist Mark Kurlansky describes it all:
"At times it seems that the search for good health has taken all the pleasure out of life. It has stripped us off butter, cream, marbled red meat, pork, and goose fat, not to mention alcohol and fine, hand-rolled cigars. And just when you settle on your favorite healthful fish, you're told it's laced with mercury. Sometimes it feels as though we would be better off being less healthy and enjoying life. But then, miraculously, there is olive oil. Olive oil, it often seems, is the only really good food we are still allowed." - Mark Kurlansky in ''Essential oil'' (bon appétit online magazine).