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Preventing many diseases via olive oil

People in India these days want greater control over the food they consume. There is also increased attention to choosing the ingredients. Preferred are food items with enriching and nourishing features and properties which prevent diseases and empower the body to gain immunity.

There are a few food items which Indians consume on a daily basis like salt, sugar, milk and oil. Oil is the first element and base for almost all Indian recipes. It is the major component which contributes to the body’s fat requirements. So, the oil we choose decides the fats we consume.

Described as “liquid gold” by Homer in ancient Greek history, olive oil is the healthiest medium to consume both externally and internally. Today, olive oil has found a significant place in every household, thanks to its extensive health benefits.

Being an essential part of the Mediterranean diet, most health benefits of olive oil are attributed to the natural properties it possesses. Additionally, this oil is naturally free of the five main culprits that cause most health problems: cholesterol, salt, sugar, gluten and trans fats. Not only this, it contains the nutrients required by our body like good fats (MUFA), Omega-3 and anti-oxidants. The oil is available in three variants — extra virgin olive oil, pure olive oil and extra light olive oil — all of which have similar constitution of nutrients.

Here are some important facts you should know about olive oil:

Olive oil is a rich source of monounsaturated fats, which reduce the risk of heart disease by decreasing levels of artery-clogging lipids in the blood. Monounsaturated fats in olive oil help the human body fight against several diseases like cardiovascular diseases, cancer, arthritis, diabetes and microbial diseases. The goodness of Omega-3 and Vitamins like E and K and minerals like iron, calcium, potassium make it great for eye, skin, bone and cell health.

During ancient times, olive oil has been known to be used as an aphrodisiac, laxative, sedative and a tonic to treat ailments as diverse as colic, paralysis, rheumatic pain, hypertension and sciatica. Additionally, olive oil is a rich source of polyphenols –powerful antioxidants that are increasingly attracting attention for their ability to promote good health.

Keep your Heart Young: Heart disease is currently one of the world’s leading causes of death, claiming millions of lives each year. India has seen a rapid transition in its heart disease burden over the past couple of decades. Heart health itself accounts for a staggering 40 per cent of all deaths among Indians, which itself is a major point of concern for many.

Olive oil helps the human body fight against cardiovascular diseases by aiding in decreasing low-density lipoprotein (LDP) and cholesterol. According to the US FDA, “Two full tablespoons of olive oil daily reduces the risk of coronary heart disease.” Daily usage of olive oil in food reduces the levels of LDL (bad cholesterol), blood sugar, trigclyceride and oxidative stress-makers in the body. Olive oil also helps improve the arterial functions in elderly people.

Olive oil also helps the human body fight osteoporosis. It affects the thickness of bones as it is a good source of calcium. It helps women fight against post-menopausal osteoporosis.

Research says that an olive oil-rich diet lowers the risk of depression in comparison with the food with ample amount of transfat and hydrogenated fat. Also, olive oil contains anti-inflammatory substance called oleocanthal which helps to relieve pain.

Being a good source of vitamin E and also a valuable amount of the beta-caroteneas antioxidant, as well as squalene, a less common antioxidant that also plays a special role in skin health, olive oil slows down the growth of skin cancer.

It lowers the risk of colon cancer as it protects the body against free radicals, while virgin olive oil has oleic and mono-unsaturated fatty acid that helps fight against breast cancer.

Olive oil contributes in the prevention of malignant melanoma and helps to counter the oxidising effect of sun.

It also helps in preventing the risk of Alzheimer’s as it has polyphenols which aids in preventing Alzheimer’s, a buildup of protein tangles called beta amyloids plaque. Polyphenols help clear up these plaques from the brain.

Changing lifestyles and bad eating habits are two major reasons behind the declining health among all age-groups. Everyone should start leading a healthy life through healthier eating habits because we have always known that a sound mind dwells in a sound body. Olive oil has found a place in the several kitchen shelves not just to satisfy the taste buds but majorly to ensuring good health and wellness.

(Rajneesh Bhasin is the MD of Borges India, a leading olive oil brand. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at [email protected])