Did you know that olive oil was popularly called ‘liquid gold’ in the ancient world? If you are a culinary expert or are hooked to cooking shows, you must be familiar with olive oil. Most chefs today recommend its use. But did you know that this ingredient can be used to improve your skin health too?
There’s more to olive oil than just being a special kitchen ingredient.
Does it pique your interest? Good, because I have a health fact to share with you.
“People from the Mediterranean, where olive oil is grown and consumed the most, have the lowest mortality rates in the world when it comes to cardiovascular diseases.”
Wait, there is more.
The benefits of olive oil are many. Weight loss, blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, cancer, arthritis — name it, and olive oil has a cure for it.
Let me introduce you to the wonderful world of olive oil. Are you ready?
Scientific Name – Olea europaea
Family – Oleaceae
Native – Mediterranean Basin
Other Names – Jaitun Ka Tel (Hindi), Mafuta (Swahili), Olyf Olie ( Afrikaans), Zayt Alzaytun (Arabic).
Olive oil is extracted from the olive fruit. From ruling our kitchens to taking over the cosmetic world, olive oil has become a rage all over the world in recent times.
When you go shopping, a good variety of olive oils catch your attention. If you are wondering what they are all about, the next few minutes will give you an insight into that.
Now that you know the types, let’s move on to the benefits.
You are watching a video on YouTube when up pops an advertisement where a celebrity is bragging about her favorite skin cream while convincing you how it worked for her. And you rushed to a cosmetic shop to buy the cream, only to realize it is wildly expensive. What if we told you olive oil offers the same benefits as some of the costly cosmetic products in the market?
Here’s why you should prefer olive oil over all the chemical-laden skin creams in the market.
Before we proceed, I have a few questions in mind.
Do you religiously go for an in-house moisturizing session after every shower?
Do you finish a bottle of body lotion within a month?
Are you willing to experiment with some natural product in place of your regular branded lotion? A solution that will last longer without as many side effects?
If you replied in the affirmative to at least one or all of my questions, go for olive oil.
This oil contains a good amount of vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects the skin from various external factors like the harsh sunrays or the wind (1), (2). The light texture of olive oil makes it a perfect non-sticky moisturizer that stays for long and suits all skin types (3).
1 spoon of extra virgin olive oil
1. After you have showered, leave your skin a little damp and massage the olive oil onto your face.
2. Leave it on for about 15 minutes, and then wash off with lukewarm water.
Note: If you have dry skin, apply the oil to your face before going to bed, and let it stay on overnight. You can remove the oil in the morning with the help of a gentle face wash and some warm water.
When it comes to beauty, most of us swear by natural ingredients. All we want is a glowing skin. No matter how many creams are there on your shelf, for a quick fix, we always reach out for a fruit pulp or a vegetable juice extract.
How can olive oil help?
Olive oil contains vitamin E, which improves skin health by treating inflammation, acne, and protecting the skin from serious ailments like psoriasis and skin cancer (4).
Honey acts as a humectant while yogurt does the job of a gentle exfoliant, thereby enhancing skin health (5).
You can follow this remedy once a week.
Are you in a dilemma over your makeup remover brand? Don’t fret.
Virgin olive oil is an easy and comparatively cheap alternative to market brands. Besides, where can you find a product that does the job without harming your skin? I always recommend natural remedies as I have sensitive skin that suffers blisters or rashes if there’s the slightest variation in the products.
As you age, your skin starts to sag and develop wrinkles. You can delay these signs of aging with olive oil.
We live in a world of Instagram and Facebook, where we proudly post our selfies, showing off our pout. And if it has to be a pretty picture, you might as well take care of your lips.
Did you know olive oil can make your lips supple and pretty?
If your cracked heels are stopping you from putting your best foot forward (pun intended!), try olive oil. Exfoliate your heels using hot lemon water and rub olive oil on them generously for added moisture and smoothness. You can wear socks for quick relief.
Now that you know how olive oil benefits your skin, don’t you want to know how it can benefit your hair? Read on.
I have envied Rapunzel’s long tresses ever since I was a kid. I’m sure many of you can relate to what I am talking about. What if I told you it’s not so difficult to get thick, long hair like Rapunzel? Excited? Read on to know how.
Olive oil, in combination with a few other ingredients, can work wonders to keep your hair healthy. The oil is rich in vitamin Ethat helps fight hair loss (6). Honey moisturizes your hair. It also contains other nutrients like magnesium, zinc, sulfur, calcium, and B vitamins that aid hair growth (7). The egg yolk is rich in protein, a nutrient that is the primary constituent of hair (8).
1. Mix the ingredients thoroughly till you get a smooth paste.
2. Apply this paste to your hair and leave it onfor about 20 minutes.
3. Wash off with lukewarm water, and then follow up with a conditioner.
I remember, as a kid, my mom gave me an oil massage before a shampoo so my hair good imbibe the goodness of the oil. Though I hated being all oily at that time, eventually, I understood how important this process was for my hair.
An olive oil massage before a shampoo helps in giving a distinct shine and strength to your hair.
A small cup of olive oil
1. Heat a cup of olive oil and apply it on your hair generously, especially on the scalp and the ends.
2. Leave it on for 20 minutes and wash off with lukewarm water.
Olive oil moisturizes your hair and reduces scalp irritation.
The benefits of olive oil are not limited to just enhancing your beauty. You can derive a lot of health benefits by including this oil in your diet as well.
Nails can say a lot about your health. If you look pale, doctors often check your nails. Dull, lifeless, brittle nails are a few problems we encounter. But did you know olive oil can actually improve nail health? If you are planning to flaunt that trendy nail art for your best friend’s wedding, you need to first start caring for your nails so they look healthy.
2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil
1. Simply dip a cotton ball in olive oil and dab it on your nails.
2. You can let it stay for about 30 minutes before washing it off with normal water.
Olive oil and cancer — the correlation can be coined as absurd. But using olive oil in cooking can help prevent breast cancer.
In a Saudi Arabian study, it was found that oleuropein, a natural compound found in olive leaf, has potential anti-breast cancer properties (10).
In another clinical trial conducted in Spain, it was found that women who consumed a diet containing olive oil were 62 percent less likely to contract breast cancer (11).
Including olive oil in your diet can also keep your blood sugar under control. Trust the many studies that prove this little fact.
In another study published by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, consumption of olive oil was linked to a reduced risk of diabetes in women (13).
If you thought calcium alone made your bones strong. Here’s news — olive oil too can strengthen the bones.
In a study that involved men consuming a Mediterranean diet, it was found that olive oil might contribute to strong bones. Their blood was found to contain higher levels of osteocalcin, which was an indication of healthy bone formation (17), (18).
We all have our share of mood swings. Our state of mind depends on a lot of things. Thankfully, there are a few foods that act as antidepressants. And you can count olive oil among them.
One of the amazing benefits of olive oil is to treat depression. Olive oil can increase the levels of serotonin, the brain chemical. This, it has been found, is similar to the effect of some antidepressants (19).
Losing weight was never this easy. What if you could lose weight while snacking on your favorite food? No kidding here!
Have your favorite Italian pasta or a salad drizzled with olive oil and watch yourself go from flab to fab.
A study published in the Harvard School of Public Health had supported the efficacy of olive oil in aiding weight loss. The weight loss that occurred due to two different types of diets (a moderate-fat Mediterranean diet that includes olive oil, and a lowfat diet) were compared. By the end of the study, only 20 percent of the volunteers in the low-fat group were still following the diet.
You can lower the levels of bad cholesterol in your body by using of olive oil.
Olive oil contains minimum levels of saturated and polyunsaturated fats. This property gives it the ability to control blood cholesterol levels in the body. Olive oil contains the highest level of monounsaturated fat – around 75-80%, which helps build good cholesterol and HDL in the body.
Oh no, I’m not stating this fact without scientific proof.
Research conducted at the University of Minnesota has shown that while Greek, Cretan, and other Mediterranean population ate almost as much dietary fat as Americans, they had significantly lower rates of heart disease. The difference is being pointed to the Mediterranean’s consumption of extra virgin olive oil.
Universidad Autonoma de Madrid in Spain found in a study that an extra virgin olive oil rich diet lowered the levels of LDL cholesterol in the body. It is also linked to an increase in HDL (good) cholesterol in the human body.
Use olive oil as a remedy for constipation.
Olive oil benefits the gastrointestinal tract and colon (20). The consistency and texture of olive oil help in stimulating your digestive system, making food move smoothly through the colon. When you take this oil on a regular basis, it helps in completely preventing constipation.
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats (21). This helps in increasing mobility so that food can move through the colon without any problem. It also helps in speeding up bowel evacuation and prevents constipation.
This oil is rich in vitamins E and K, iron, omega-3 and 6 fatty acids and antioxidants. These nutrients improve your overall health, including the digestive tract, and help prevent constipation as well.
Olive oil can be used in many different ways for the treatment of constipation. Take a look:
Have one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil twice a day. Take the first tablespoon in the morning on an empty stomach and the second one an hour before you go to bed. If you forget to take it while your stomach is empty, wait a few hours after you have eaten. Repeat this every day until constipation is relieved.
If you do not like the taste of raw olive oil, you can combine it with a fibrous fruit like apple or orange. First, take a tablespoon of the oil in the morning and then eat the fruit. If it does not help, take another tablespoon in the evening with veggies such as broccoli that are rich in fiber. Do this on a regular basis until you obtain relief.
Add one teaspoon of olive oil to a glass of orange juice and drink it every morning on an empty stomach. It will help in lubricating your system all day long and keeps you healthy. You can also try olive oil with a cup of coffee.
Mixing a tablespoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of lemon juice is also an effective way to treat constipation naturally. Drink this mixture once every day. You can also take one teaspoon of olive oil with a wedge of lemon in the evening to lubricate your system and to keep your colon from drying while you sleep.
This is a great remedy for severe constipation. All you need to do is add one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to a cup of warm milk. Mix it well and make sure your stomach is empty when you drink it. Do this regularly to get rid of constipation.
Olive oil consumption can also help dissolve kidney stones (22).
Using olive oil to clean ear wax is a good idea (23).
To prevent the onset of cerumen impaction, experts recommend using olive oil to remove wax from your ears. In most cases, when you try to clean impacted earwax, the hardened wax chunks move further back into the ear canal.
This is where olive oil comes in handy. It helps to soften the cerumen, making it easier for you to remove earwax. Once it has been sufficiently softened, the wax gets broken down into smaller pieces, and often moves to the outer edge of your air canal, where it can be safely and thoroughly cleaned with a soft cloth or tissue.
You can repeat this method several times a week as required. While a few people say that it should be done two to four times a day, others recommend the treatment only a few times a week. It takes some patience with this remedy as it can take up to two weeks for even minor cases to clear up completely.
You may not know this but the daily consumption of extra virgin oil can help prevent strokes in the elderly (24).
A study has shown that older people who adopted olive oil in their diet were 41% less susceptible to the risk of strokes. We all know that strokes occur due to blood clot in the blood vessels connecting to the brain, which can even lead to brain damage and, eventually, death. Olive oil helps in diluting these clots, ensuring proper blood flow to the brain.
Ever wondered why all the great love stories originated from Italy – the land of olive oil?
It’s no surprise that olive oil is an excellent aphrodisiac (25). A proper massage with olive oil enhances blood circulation to all parts of the body, including the sex organs.
Be it external or internal injury, extra virgin olive oil is known to relieve pain.
The presence of a compound called oleocanthal in olive oil makes it an anti-inflammatory agent that can cure any type of disease, be it topical or chronic (26).
Not mentioning the proper process of selection after enumerating the numerous benefits is like luring a kid with a candy without giving him one. Let’s take a look at the selection process of olive oil.
There are five things you need to keep in mind while choosing olive oil.
The storage of a product is as important as the selection, if not more.
Just note these simple pointers to ensure the longevity of your olive oil.
Trivia: Thankfully, olive oil has a longer shelf life when comparedto normal cooking oils. Some varieties can even last three years.
You can ideally use high-quality extra virgin olive oil as a perfect condiment – drizzled over fish, steamed or baked vegetables, salad dressings, bread, cookies, etc.
NOTE: It is important to note that olive oil has a lower smoke point (the temperature at which the oil begins to break down, losing its beneficial properties) as compared to other oils. Also, extra virgin olive oil has a lower smoke point than normal olive oil. So, ensure that you use extra virgin olive oil for cooking on medium/low heat (between 250 to 350 degrees Fahrenheit).
Though olive oil has a lot of benefits, it does have some side effects, which you cannot afford to ignore. Take a look:
Takeaway: Use olive oil for smooth, supple, and flawless skin. Scrubbing a bit of this oil on your lips and heels makes them even and pretty. This unique oil also makes your hair healthy and shiny. Olive oil has also proved to be very effective in curing diabetes, breast cancer, cardiovascular diseases, cholesterol, obesity, and kidney stones.
Now, didn’t I tell you how olive oil was truly amazing? Why not give it a try and see the results for yourself?
And for those who have already been using olive oil,were you aware of all the benefits and uses highlighted in the article? Also, what made you switch to this light oil? How is your experience with this oil so far? Do tell us in the box below.