Extra Benefits

Other Health Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

 

Although mostly studied for its effects on heart health, olive oil consumption has also been associated with a number of other health benefits.

Cancer

Cancer is a common cause of death, characterized by uncontrolled growth of cells in the body.

Studies have shown that people in the Mediterranean countries have a fairly low risk of cancer and some have speculated that olive oil has something to do with it (27).

One potential contributor to cancer is oxidative damage due to free radicals, but extra virgin olive oil is high in antioxidants that reduce oxidative damage (28, 29).

The oleic acid in olive oil is also highly resistant to oxidation and has been shown to have beneficial effects on genes linked to cancer (30, 31).

Many studies in test tubes have shown that compounds in olive oil can help fight cancer at the molecular level (32, 33, 34).

Whether olive oil actually helps prevent cancer has yet to be studied in human controlled trials.

Olive Oil and Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the world’s most common neurodegenerative disease and a leading cause of dementia.

One feature of Alzheimer’s is a buildup of protein tangles called beta amyloidplaques, in certain neurons in the brain.

A study in mice showed that a substance in olive oil can help to clear these plaques from the brain (35).

A human controlled trial showed that a mediterranean diet enriched with olive oil had favorable effects on brain function and reduced the risk of cognitive impairment (36).

Bottom Line: There is preliminary evidence that olive oil can help fight cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, although this needs to be confirmed in human controlled trials.