Mention “olive oil” and the image that first comes to mind take us to the clear blue skies and warm seas of the Mediterranean. The Greeks, the Italians, and other people of the Mediterranean are known for their delicious diets – that include little meat – that keeps them in such an enviable state of health. They are healthy and compared to a north European or a North American they are less like to develop heart diseases. Experts have long argued over what it is in their diets that gives them such a wonderful health. For a long time studies have pointed towards an object in your kitchen – olive oil.

Olive oil is an essential ingredient of Mediterranean food. The oil is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids. These acids produce good fat that does not stick to your belly. Not all kinds of olive oil are equally good for health. Some are better at the job. In the United States, olive oil is customarily divided into four categories: (a) extra virgin, (b) virgin, (c) light, and (d) extra light. Of these four categories, extra virgin is the purest olive oil and most beneficial for health. If you are in America, it is smarter to choose extra virgin olive oil over other kinds.

There have been a number of studies during the past few decades highlighting the health benefits of olive oil. Some of those benefits have been surmised below:

(a) Life expectancy – A British newspaper cites a University of Maastricht study which suggests Mediterranean diet, which is rich in olive oil, can improve life expectancy up to 15 years.
(b) Reduced rate of hearth attack – A study in an English journal cites a study in Spain that has noticed a 30 percent reduced risk of a heart attack among Spanish people who consumed olive oil.
(c) Reduced risk of breast cancer – Another study involving 60,000 women suggests olive oil can reduce the risk of breast cancer by as much as 45 percent.

There is better healthy oil available nowadays for people who love food. All they have to do is to throw their saturated fat oils into dustbin and start using healthful olive oils.