The Benefits of the Olive Tree
Olives and olive oil are very flavoursome and play a huge part in the Mediterranean diet, as they are also extremely beneficial to your health. Their value was well known from ancient times; in fact, the Greek physician, Hippocrates, known as the “Father of Medicine”, was well aware of their therapeutic properties.
1. Significant health benefits for the heart
Olives and olive oil are rich in monounsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats are the so-called healthy fats. Oleic acid is very beneficial for the heart, protecting it against a number of diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes mellitus. Eating monounsaturated fats helps lower blood pressure, inhibits the oxidation of LDL, the bad cholesterol, and improves the function of the blood vessels.
2. Stroke prevention
Eating olives and olive oil helps prevent blood clotting, which can cause myocardial infarction or venous thrombosis. Different studies show that people who include olives and olive oil in their diet have a much lower risk of stroke, which, along with heart disease, is among the leading causes of death in developed countries.
3. Lower risk of type II diabetes
Both observational and clinical studies have demonstrated that, as part of the Mediterranean diet, olives and olive oil may lower the risk of type II diabetes by 40%.
4. High antioxidant content
The oleic acid, the oleocanthal and the antioxidants found in olives and olive oil have strong anti-inflammatory properties, protect cells from benign or malignant tumours, and lower the risk of chronic diseases.
They are rich in polyphenols, a natural chemical substance that reduces oxidative stress in the brain. At the same time, they increase the levels of glutathione, which is necessary for brain function and other functions of the human body.
What is more, eating a portion of olives every day improves memory by up to 25%.
Olives and olive oil reduce the effects of degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. Researchers at the University of Louisiana were able to stop the progression of Alzheimer’s in lab animals, by including specially selected Greek olive oil in their diet. According to the American professors, this is a particularly important finding, which sets out the path for olive oil to be seen as medical food.
5. Helpful in combating depression
All the more studies support the claim that the right diet can aid in treating and preventing diseases associated with the brain. The Mediterranean diet and olive oil in particular have been linked to the improvement of depression.
6. Therapeutic and anti-ageing action
Olives and olive oil are excellent sources of vitamins A and E, and amino acids. They have a high nutritional value and a high content of inorganic salts, such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iodine, selenium, copper, different types of polyphenols and many more trace elements. Moreover, they are rich in calcium and iron – just one cup of olives contains 4.4 mg of iron.
The carbohydrates in olives mainly come from natural fibres, which are the pillar of healthy eating.
Eating 10 olives before a meal reduces your appetite by up to 20%. This is because the monounsaturated fatty acids of the olives slow down digestion and enhance cholecystokinin, a hormone which increases the feeling of fullness. Moreover, they help the body increase the production of adipokine, a hormone involved in fatty acid breakdown, active up to five hours after eating.
Lastly, olives and olive oil have documented anti-ageing properties. Olive oil, a natural softener and moisturiser, is the main ingredient in many skin and hair products. Eating olives may reduce wrinkle formation by 20%, as olives are rich in vitamin E, which is a very potent antioxidant, and oleic acid, which helps maintain the health and suppleness of the skin.