The Ultimate Guide to Olive Oil Health Benefits, Buying Tips, and How to Use It

olive oilLast winter, my skin was not happy. I had lots of dry, red, scaly patches all over, mostly on my legs. They burned and it was extremely uncomfortable. I don’t know if it was winter skin, or some condition like psoriasis. I was going through lotion by the gallon but it didn’t make much difference. My husband had read about the benefits of olive oil and suggested I look into it for my skin problems. I did, and began drinking a tablespoon or so a day. My skin loved it!

So how is olive oil made, why is it so good for you, what are its benefits, and how can you use it?

What is Olive Oil?olive oil

Olive oil is a liquid fat, usually produced by pressing whole olives. It’s commonly used in cooking, either for frying or in salad dressing. There are usually several terms on the bottle that describe the oil, so what do those terms mean?

Extra virgin oil is produced by pressing, with no chemicals used. A true extra virgin olive oil won’t be processed with heat. It’s also usually unfiltered, and it’s the first pressed oil from freshly picked olives.

Cold-pressed is a chemical-free process using only pressure.It produces a higher quality oil that is naturally lower in acidity.

Virgin olive oil is also usually pressed but comes from riper olives or a second pressing.

Light or pure blends are refined, meaning chemicals were usually used at some point in the processing. When the label says extra light, it means color, not fat content. Often they have been mixed with soy, corn, cottonseed, or canola oils.

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How to Choose a Good Olive Oil

olive oilThere are many, many options for olive oil on the market. Some of them aren’t pure or high quality. This means the health benefits won’t be there. So how can you be sure you’re getting a good oil?

  • Check the labels using the terms above. Stay away from oils labeled light or pure. Look for extra virgin, cold-pressed olive oil.
  • Buy organic if possible. An oil that is labeled 100% USDA organic will also be non-gmo, and carry the highest health benefits.
  • If you can, smell the oil before buying (I realize this isn’t always possible). An oil that isn’t pure will have a chemical smell to it.
  • When you do find a brand of olive oil that is high quality, stick with it.
  • Look for oil in dark bottles. This protects the oil from sunlight and prevents it from going rancid.
  • Remember that you get what you pay for. A good quality oil may cost you a little more, but the health benefits are worth the extra money.
  • If you store it properly, you can keep olive oil for up to 2 years. Keep it in a cool, dark cupboard-never next to the stove or other heat source.
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We only use cold pressed, extra virgin, unfiltered oil. I also buy organic and non-gmo whenever possible.

The Health Benefits of Olive Oil

Olive oil is considered a healthy fat, with many benefits.

  1. Olive oil can protect your heart. It’s full of monounsaturated fats and antioxidants that make it anti-flammatory. Chronic inflammation is harmful to your arteries and is linked to heart disease. Studies show that olive oil can actually reverse changes to your heart and blood vessels caused by inflammation, disease, and age.olive oil
  2. It can fight cancer. Studies are showing that the antioxidants and other compounds in olive oil are actually anti cancer agents.
  3. It can help with weight loss. Healthy fats control excess insulin, which affects blood sugar levels. A diet higher in healthy fats can reduce hunger, cravings, and overeating. Diets with enough healthy fat, such as olive oil, are more satisfying and easier to stick to.
  4. Olive oil is a brain food. Healthy fats can help with mood, focus, and memory.
  5. It can also help with depression and mood disorders. Healthy fats have hormone-balancing effects that prevent neurotransmitter dysfunction.This can help the brain to get enough of the happy hormones that prevent depression.
  6. It may lower the risk of diabetes. Healthy fats have beneficial effects on insulin sensitivity that may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  7. It’s also beneficial for your skin, hair, and nails. You can use it as a hot oil treatment, in homemade scrubs and more.

How to Use It

So now that you know how great it can be for you, how do  you use olive oil for your health?olive oil

  1. You can cook with olive oil up to a certain temperature. It doesn’t have a high smoke point, so it isn’t great for searing or deep frying. If you heat the oil too much, it can change the properties. For higher temperature cooking, choose avocado oil or coconut oil.
  2. You can also whip up delicious homemade salad dressings using olive oil. You can also use it in many other recipes.
  3. Make a foot scrub for cracked heels. I like the first recipe in this post.
  4. I drink 1-2 tablespoons a day. My dry, red skin is completely gone. No more burning or itching, and I’ve significantly reduced how much lotion I use.
  5. You can also use it directly on your skin to help with dryness.
  6. Place a few drops in your ear before bed for 3-4 nights to loosen excess earwax.
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Final Thoughts

Olive oil has many health benefits, but you need to make sure your oil is a good quality.

What’s your favorite use for this healthy oil? Share in the comments below, then keep reading:

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