Coconut oil is widely marketed as a "superfood."
1. Coconut Oil Contains Healthy Fatty Acids<p>Coconut oil is high in certain saturated fats. These fats have different effects in the body compared with most other dietary fats.</p><p>The fatty acids in coconut oil can encourage the body to burn fat, and they provide quick energy to the body and brain. They also raise <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/hdl-vs-ldl-cholesterol" target="_blank">HDL (good) cholesterol</a> in the blood, which may help to reduce heart disease risk.</p><p>Most dietary fats are categorized as long-chain <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/triglyceride-level" target="_blank">triglycerides</a> (LCTs), while coconut oil contains some <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mct-oil-101" target="_blank">medium-chain triglycerides</a> (MCTs), which are shorter fatty acid chains.</p><p>When you eat MCTs, they tend to go straight to the liver. The body uses them as a quick source of energy or turns them into ketones.</p><p>Ketones can have powerful benefits for the brain, and researchers are studying ketones as a treatment for <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/epilepsy" target="_blank">epilepsy</a>, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/alzheimers-disease" target="_blank">Alzheimer's disease</a>, and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/15-conditions-benefit-ketogenic-diet" target="_blank">other conditions</a>.</p><h4>Summary</h4><p>Coconut oil is high in fats called medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs, which the body metabolizes differently than most other fats. MCTs are responsible for many of the health benefits of coconut oil.</p>
2. Eating Coconut May Benefit Heart Health<p>Coconut is an uncommon food in the Western world, with health-conscious people being the main consumers.</p><p>However, in some parts of the world, coconut — which is loaded with coconut oil — is a dietary staple that people have thrived on for generations.</p><p>A good example is the Tokelauans, a population who live in the South Pacific. According to a 1981 study, this population was getting over 60% of their calories from coconuts.</p><p>Researchers reported that this population had good health with very low rates of heart disease.</p><p>Another example of a population who ate a lot of coconut — along with tubers, fruit, and fish —and had little stroke or heart disease is the Kitavan population in Papua, New Guinea.</p><h4>Summary</h4><p>Several populations around the world have thrived for generations eating a substantial amount of coconut, and studies show they have good heart health.</p>
3. MCTs Can Encourage Fat Burning<p>Obesity is one of the biggest health conditions affecting the Western world today.</p><p>While some people think obesity is just a matter of how many calories someone eats, the source of those calories is important, too. Different foods affect the body and hormones in different ways.</p><p>The MCTs in coconut oil can increase the number of calories the body burns compared to longer-chain fatty acids.</p><p>One study found that consuming 15–30 grams of MCTs per day increased 24-hour energy expenditure by 5%.</p><p>However, these studies didn't specifically look at the effects of coconut oil. They examined the health effects of MCTs — excluding lauric acid — which make up only about 14% of coconut oil.</p><p>There's currently no good evidence to say that eating coconut oil itself will increase the amount of energy a person uses up.</p><p>People should keep in mind that coconut oil is very high in calories and can easily lead to weight gain when they consume it in large amounts.</p><h4>Summary</h4><p>Research says that MCTs can increase the number of calories burned over 24 hours by as much as 5%. However, research has not shown that coconut oil itself has the same effect.</p>
4. Coconut Oil Has Antimicrobial Effects<p>Twelve-carbon lauric acid makes up about 50% of the fatty acids in coconut oil.</p><p>When the body digests lauric acid, it forms a substance called <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/monolaurin" target="_blank">monolaurin</a>. Both lauric acid and monolaurin can kill harmful pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi.</p><p>For example, test tube studies show that these substances can help to kill the bacteria <em>Staphylococcus aureus,</em> which causes staph infections, and the yeast <em>Candida albicans</em>, a common source of yeast infections in humans.</p><p>There's also some evidence that using coconut oil as a mouthwash, a process called <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/oil-pulling-coconut-oil" target="_blank">oil pulling</a>, could benefit oral hygiene, though researchers consider the evidence weak.</p><p>There's no evidence that coconut oil reduces the risk for the common cold or other internal infections.</p><h4>Summary</h4><p>Using coconut oil as a mouthwash could help to prevent infections in the mouth, but researchers need more evidence before they can make strong claims.</p>
5. MCTs Can Reduce Hunger<p>One interesting feature of MCTs is that they can reduce hunger.</p><p>This may be related to the way the body metabolizes fats, because ketones can reduce a person's appetite.</p><p>In one study, researchers fed varying amounts of MCTs and LCTs to 6 healthy men. The men who ate the most MCTs ate fewer calories per day.</p><p>Another study in 14 healthy men reported that those who ate the most MCTs at breakfast ate fewer calories at lunch.</p><p>These studies were small and had a very short timescale. If this effect were to persist over the long term, it could lead to reduced body weight over several years.</p><p>Although coconut oil is one of the richest natural sources of MCTs, there's no evidence that coconut oil intake reduces appetite more than other types of oils.</p><p>In fact, one study has reported that coconut oil is less satiating than MCT oil.</p><h4>Summary</h4><p>MCTs can significantly reduce appetite, which may lead to reduced body weight over the long term.</p>
6. MCTs May Reduce Seizures<p>Researchers are currently studying the <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ketogenic-diet-101" target="_blank">ketogenic diet</a> (very low in carbs, very high in fats) to treat various disorders.</p><p>The best known therapeutic use of this diet is treating drug-resistant epilepsy in children.</p><p>The diet dramatically reduces the rate of seizures in children with epilepsy, even those who haven't had success with multiple different types of drugs. Researchers aren't sure why.</p><p>Reducing carbohydrate intake and increasing fat intake leads to greatly increased concentrations of ketones in the blood.</p><p>Because the MCTs in coconut oil get transported to the liver and turned into ketones, healthcare professionals may use a modified keto diet that includes MCTs and a more generous carbohydrate allowance to induce ketosis and help treat epilepsy.</p><h4>Summary</h4><p>The MCTs in coconut oil can increase blood concentration of ketone bodies, which can help reduce seizures in children with epilepsy.</p>
7. Coconut Oil Can Raise HDL Cholesterol<p>Coconut oil contains natural <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/saturated-fat-good-or-bad" target="_blank">saturated fats</a> that increase HDL (good) cholesterol in the body. They may also help turn LDL (bad) cholesterol into a less harmful form.</p><p>By increasing HDL, many experts believe that coconut oil could be good for heart health compared to many other fats.</p><p>In one study in 40 women, coconut oil reduced total and LDL (bad) cholesterol while increasing HDL compared to soybean oil.</p><p>Another study involving 116 adults showed that following a diet program that included coconut oil raised levels of HDL (good) cholesterol in people with <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/coronary-artery-disease" target="_blank">coronary artery disease</a>.</p><h4>Summary</h4><p>A few studies have shown that coconut oil can raise blood levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, which is linked to improved metabolic health and a lower risk of heart disease.</p>
8. Coconut Oil Can Protect the Skin, Hair, and Teeth<p>Coconut oil has <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/31-coconut-oil-uses" target="_blank">many uses</a> that have nothing to do with eating it.</p><p>Many people are using it for cosmetic purposes to improve the health and appearance of their skin and hair.</p><p>Studies show that coconut oil can improve the moisture content of dry skin, and it can also reduce the symptoms of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/eczema" target="_blank">eczema</a>.</p><p>Coconut oil can also protect against hair damage. One study shows that it may work as a weak sunscreen, blocking about 20% of the sun's ultraviolet rays.</p><p>Oil pulling, which involves swishing coconut oil around the mouth like mouthwash, can kill some of the harmful bacteria in the mouth. This may improve dental health and reduce bad breath, though more research is needed.</p><h4>Summary</h4><p>People can apply coconut oil to their skin, hair, and teeth. Studies suggest it works as a skin moisturizer, protects against skin damage, and improves oral health.</p>
9. MCTs Can Boost Brain Function in Alzheimer's Disease<p>Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/dementia" target="_blank">dementia</a>. It usually affects older adults.</p><p>In people with Alzheimer's disease, the brain's ability to use glucose for energy is reduced.</p><p>Researchers have suggested that ketones can provide an alternative energy source for these malfunctioning brain cells to reduce symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.</p><p>The authors of a 2006 study reported that consuming MCTs improved brain function in people with milder forms of Alzheimer's disease.</p><p>However, research is still early, and there's no evidence to suggest that coconut oil itself helps with Alzheimer's disease.</p><h4>Summary</h4><p>Early studies suggest that MCTs can increase blood levels of ketones, supplying energy for the brain cells of people with Alzheimer's disease and relieving symptoms.</p>
10. Coconut Oil May Help Reduce Harmful Abdominal Fat<p>Given that some of the fatty acids in coconut oil can reduce appetite and increase fat burning, evidence suggests that it can also <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/coconut-oil-and-weight-loss" target="_blank">help you to lose weight</a>.</p><p>Abdominal fat, or visceral fat, lodges in the abdominal cavity and around organs. MCTs appear to be especially effective at <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/20-tips-to-lose-belly-fat" target="_blank">reducing belly fat</a> compared to LCTs.</p><p>Abdominal fat is the most harmful type and has links with many chronic diseases.</p><p>Waist circumference is an easy, accurate marker for the amount of fat in the abdominal cavity.</p><p>In a study of 40 women with abdominal obesity, those who took 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of coconut oil per day had a significant reduction in both BMI and waist circumference over 12 weeks.</p><p>Another study in 20 males with obesity noted a reduction in waist circumference of 1.1 inches (2.86 cm) after 4 weeks of taking 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of coconut oil per day.</p><p>Coconut oil is still high in calories so people should use it sparingly. Replacing some of your other cooking fats with coconut oil could have a small weight loss benefit, but the evidence is inconsistent overall.</p>
The Bottom Line<p>If you want to buy coconut oil, there's an <a href="http://amzn.to/2nepI91" target="_blank">excellent selection online</a> with thousands of customer reviews. It's also available in most health food stores.</p><p>In order to get the potential health benefits outlined in the article, make sure to choose organic, virgin coconut oil rather than refined versions.</p>
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Historically, it hasn't always been possible to grow fresh vegetables throughout the year.
1. Nutrient Dense<p>Kimchi is packed with nutrients while being low in calories.</p><p>On its own, Chinese cabbage — one of the main ingredients in kimchi — boasts vitamins A and C, at least 10 different minerals, and over 34 amino acids.</p><p>Since kimchi varies widely in ingredients, its exact nutritional profile differs between batches and brands. All the same, a 1-cup (150-gram) serving contains approximately.</p><ul><li><strong>Calories:</strong> 23</li><li><strong>Carbs:</strong> 4 grams</li><li><strong>Protein:</strong> 2 grams</li><li><strong>Fat:</strong> less than 1 gram</li><li><strong>Fiber:</strong> 2 grams</li><li><strong>Sodium:</strong> 747 mg</li><li><strong>Vitamin B6:</strong> 19% of the Daily Value (DV)</li><li><strong>Vitamin C:</strong> 22% of the DV</li><li><strong>Vitamin K:</strong> 55% of the DV</li><li><strong>Folate:</strong> 20% of the DV</li><li><strong>Iron:</strong> 21% of the DV</li><li><strong>Niacin:</strong> 10% of the DV</li><li><strong>Riboflavin:</strong> 24% of the DV</li></ul><p>Many green vegetables are good sources of nutrients like vitamin K and riboflavin. Because kimchi often comprises several green veggies, such as <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-cabbage" target="_blank">cabbage</a>, celery, and spinach, it's typically a great source of these nutrients.</p><p><a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-high-in-vitamin-k" target="_blank">Vitamin K</a> plays an important role in many bodily functions, including bone metabolism and blood clotting, while riboflavin helps regulate energy production, cellular growth, and metabolism.</p><p>What's more, the fermentation process may develop additional nutrients that are more easily absorbed by your body.</p><h4>Summary</h4><p>Kimchi has an excellent nutritional profile. The dish is low in calories but packed with nutrients like iron, folate, and vitamins B6 and K.</p>
2. Contains Probiotics<p>The lacto-fermentation process that kimchi undergoes makes it particularly unique. Fermented foods not only have an extended shelf life but also an enhanced taste and aroma.</p><p>Fermentation occurs when a starch or sugar is converted into an alcohol or acid by organisms like yeast, mold, or bacteria.</p><p><a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/lacto-fermentation" target="_blank">Lacto-fermentation</a> uses the bacterium <em>Lactobacillus</em> to break sugars down into lactic acid, which gives kimchi its characteristic sourness.</p><p>When taken as a supplement, This bacterium itself may have several benefits, including treating conditions like hayfever and certain types of diarrhea.</p><p>Fermentation also creates an environment that allows other friendly bacteria to thrive and multiply. These include <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-super-healthy-probiotic-foods" target="_blank">probiotics</a>, which are live microorganisms that offer health benefits when consumed in large amounts.</p><p>In fact, they're linked to protection from or improvements in several conditions, including:</p><ul><li>certain types of <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/cancer">cancer</a></li><li>the common cold</li><li>constipation</li><li>gastrointestinal health<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30197628" target="_blank"></a></li><li>heart health </li><li><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/mental-health" rel="noopener noreferrer">mental health</a><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25448230" target="_blank"></a></li><li>skin conditions<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28802302" target="_blank"></a></li></ul><p>Keep in mind that many of these findings are related to high-dose probiotic supplements and not the amounts found in a normal serving of kimchi.</p><p>The probiotics in kimchi are believed to be responsible for many of its benefits. Nonetheless, more research is needed on the specific effects of probiotics from fermented foods.</p><h4>Summary</h4><p><strong></strong>Fermented foods like kimchi offer probiotics, which may help prevent and treat several conditions.</p>
3. May Strengthen Your Immune System<p>The <em>Lactobacillus</em> bacterium in kimchi may <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/foods-that-boost-the-immune-system" target="_blank">boost your immune health</a>.</p><p>In a study in mice, those injected with <em>Lactobacillus</em> <em>plantarum</em> — a specific strain that's common in kimchi and other fermented foods — had lower levels of TNF alpha, an inflammatory marker, than the control group.</p><p>Because TNF alpha levels are often elevated during infection and disease, a decrease indicates that the immune system is working efficiently.</p><p>A test-tube study that isolated <em>Lactobacillus plantarum</em> from kimchi likewise demonstrated that this bacterium has immune-enhancing effects.</p><p>Though these results are promising, human research is needed.</p><h4>Summary</h4><p><strong></strong>A specific strain of <em>Lactobacillus</em> found in kimchi may boost your immune system, though further research is necessary.</p>
4. May Reduce Inflammation<p>Probiotics and active compounds in kimchi and other fermented foods may help fight inflammation.</p><p>For example, a mouse study revealed that HDMPPA, one of the principal compounds in kimchi, improved blood vessel health by <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-anti-inflammatory-foods" target="_blank">suppressing inflammation</a>.</p><p>In another mouse study, a kimchi extract of 91 mg per pound of body weight (200 mg per kg) given daily for 2 weeks lowered levels of inflammation-related enzymes.</p><p>Meanwhile, a test-tube study confirmed that HDMPPA displays anti-inflammatory properties by blocking and suppressing the release of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-foods-that-cause-inflammation" target="_blank">inflammatory compounds</a>.</p><p>However, human studies are lacking.</p><h4>Summary</h4><p><strong></strong>HDMPPA, an active compound in kimchi, may play a large role in reducing inflammation.</p>
5. May Slow Aging<p>Chronic inflammation is not only associated with numerous illnesses, but it also accelerates the aging process.</p><p>Yet, kimchi possibly prolongs cell life by <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-habits-linked-to-a-long-life" target="_blank">slowing this process</a>.</p><p>In a test-tube study, human cells treated with kimchi demonstrated an increase in viability, which measures overall cell health — and showed an extended lifespan regardless of their age.</p><p>Still, overall research is lacking. Many more studies are needed before kimchi can be recommended as an <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/anti-aging-foods" target="_blank">anti-aging treatment</a>.</p><h4>Summary</h4><p><strong></strong>A test-tube study indicates that kimchi may slow the aging process, though more research is necessary.</p>
6. May Prevent Yeast Infections<p>Kimchi's probiotics and healthy bacteria may help <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/5-diet-tips-against-candida" target="_blank">prevent yeast infections</a>.</p><p>Vaginal yeast infections occur when the <em>Candida</em> fungus, which is normally harmless, multiplies rapidly inside the vagina. Over 1.4 million women in the United States are treated for this condition each year.</p><p>As this fungus may be developing resistance to antibiotics, many researchers are looking for natural treatments.</p><p>Test-tube and animal studies suggest that certain strains of <em>Lactobacillus</em> fight <em>Candida</em>. One test-tube study even found that multiple strains isolated from kimchi displayed antimicrobial activity against this fungus.</p><p>Regardless, further research is necessary.</p><p><strong>Summary</strong></p><p>Probiotic-rich foods like kimchi may help prevent yeast infections, though research is in the early stages.</p>
7. May Aid Weight Loss<p>Fresh and fermented kimchi are both low in calories and may boost <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/weight-loss" target="_blank">weight loss.</a><span></span></p><p>A 4-week study in 22 people with excess weight found that eating fresh or fermented kimchi helped reduce body weight, body mass index (BMI), and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/best-ways-to-burn-fat" target="_blank">body fat</a>. Additionally, the fermented variety decreased blood sugar levels.</p><p>Keep in mind that those who ate fermented kimchi displayed significantly greater improvements in blood pressure and body fat percentage than those who ate the fresh dish.</p><p>It's unclear which properties of kimchi are responsible for its weight loss effects — though its low calorie count, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/22-high-fiber-foods" target="_blank">high fiber content</a>, and probiotics could all play a role.</p><h4>Summary</h4><p><strong></strong>Though the specific mechanism isn't known, kimchi may help reduce body weight, body fat, and even blood pressure and blood sugar levels.</p>
8. May Support Heart Health<p>Research indicates that kimchi may reduce your risk of <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/heart-disease" rel="noopener noreferrer">heart disease</a>.</p><p>This may be due to its anti-inflammatory properties, as recent evidence suggests that inflammation may be an underlying cause of heart disease.</p><p>In an 8-week study in mice fed a high cholesterol diet, fat levels in the blood and liver were lower in those given kimchi extract than in the control group. In addition, the kimchi extract appeared to suppress fat growth.</p><p>This is important because the accumulation of fat in these areas may contribute to <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/heart-healthy-foods" target="_blank">heart disease</a>.</p><p>Meanwhile, a weeklong study in 100 people found that eating 0.5–7.5 ounces (15–210 grams) of kimchi daily significantly decreased blood sugar, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-foods-that-lower-cholesterol-levels" target="_blank">total cholesterol</a>, and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels — all of which are risk factors for heart disease.</p><p>All the same, more human research is needed.</p><h4>Summary</h4><p><strong></strong>Kimchi may lower your risk of heart disease by reducing inflammation, suppressing fat growth, and decreasing cholesterol levels.</p>
9. Easy to Make at Home<p>Though preparing fermented foods may seem like a daunting task, making kimchi at home is fairly simple if you adhere to the following steps:</p><ol><li>Gather ingredients of your choice, such as cabbage and other fresh vegetables like carrot, radish, and onion, plus ginger, garlic, sugar, salt, rice flour, chili oil, chili powder or pepper flakes, fish sauce, and saeujeot (fermented shrimp).</li><li>Cut and wash the fresh vegetables alongside the ginger and garlic.</li><li>Spread salt in between the layers of cabbage leaves and let it sit for 2–3 hours. Turn the cabbage every 30 minutes to evenly distribute the salt. Use a ratio of 1/2 cup (72 grams) of salt to every 6 pounds (2.7 kg) of cabbage.</li><li>To remove the excess salt, rinse the cabbage with water and drain in a colander or strainer.</li><li>Mix the rice flour, sugar, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-benefits-of-ginger" target="_blank">ginger</a>, garlic, chili oil, pepper flakes, fish sauce, and saeujeot into a paste, adding water if necessary. You can use more or less of these ingredients depending on how strong you want your kimchi to taste.</li><li>Toss the fresh vegetables, including the cabbage, into the paste until all of the veggies have been fully coated.</li><li>Pack the mixture into a large container or jar for storage, making sure to seal it properly.</li><li>Let the kimchi ferment for at least 3 days at room temperature or up to 3 weeks at 39 F (4 C).</li></ol><p>To make a version that's suitable for vegetarians and vegans, simply leave out the fish sauce and saeujeot.</p><p>If you prefer fresh over fermented kimchi, just stop after step 6.</p><p>If you choose fermentation, you'll know that it's ready to eat once it starts to smell and taste sour — or when small bubbles begin to move through the jar.</p><p>After fermentation, you can refrigerate your kimchi for up to 1 year. It will continue to ferment but at a slower rate due to the cool temperature.</p><p>Bubbling, bulging, a sour taste, and a softening of the cabbage are all perfectly normal for kimchi. However, if you notice a foul odor or any <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-moldy-food-dangerous" target="_blank">signs of mold</a>, such as a white film atop the food, your dish has spoiled and should be thrown out.</p><h4>Summary</h4><p><strong></strong>Kimchi can be made at home using a few simple steps. Typically, it needs to ferment 3–21 days depending on the surrounding temperature.</p>
Does kimchi have any downsides?<p>In general, the biggest safety concern with kimchi is food poisoning.</p><p>Recently, this dish has been linked to <em>E. coli</em> and norovirus outbreaks.</p><p>Even though fermented foods don't typically carry foodborne pathogens, kimchi's ingredients and the adaptability of pathogens means that it's still vulnerable to <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-that-cause-food-poisoning" target="_blank">foodborne illnesses</a>.</p><p>As such, people with compromised immune systems may want to practice caution with kimchi.</p><p>Although people with high blood pressure may have concerns about this dish's <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-high-in-sodium" target="_blank">high sodium content</a>, a study in 114 people with this condition showed no significant relationship between kimchi intake and high blood pressure.</p><h4>Summary</h4><p><strong></strong>Kimchi has very few risks. Nonetheless, this dish has been tied to outbreaks of food poisoning, so people with compromised immune systems may want to use extra caution.</p>
The Bottom Line<p>Kimchi is a sour Korean dish often made from cabbage and other vegetables. Because it's a <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/8-fermented-foods" target="_blank">fermented food</a>, it boasts numerous probiotics.</p><p>These healthy microorganisms may give kimchi several health benefits. It may help regulate your immune system, promote <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-lose-weight-as-fast-as-possible" target="_blank">weight loss</a>, fight inflammation, and even slow the aging process.</p><p>If you enjoy cooking, you can even make kimchi at home.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><a href="https://www.healthline.com/" target="_blank"><em>Healthline</em></a><em>. For detailed source information, please view the original article on </em><em><a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-kimchi#The-bottom-line" target="_blank">Healthline</a></em><em>.</em></p>
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By Kris Gunnars
Dietary fats are highly controversial, with debates about animal fats, seed oils, and everything in between in full force.
That said, most people agree that extra virgin olive oil is incredibly healthy.
Part of the Mediterranean diet, this traditional oil has been a dietary staple for some of the world's healthiest populations.
Studies show that the fatty acids and antioxidants in olive oil can offer some powerful health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease.
This article reviews why extra virgin olive oil is one of the healthiest fats.
What Is Olive Oil and How Is It Made?<p>Olive oil is oil that has been extracted from olives, the fruits of the olive tree.</p><p>The production process is incredibly simple. Olives can be pressed to extract their oil, but modern methods involve crushing the olives, mixing them together, and then separating the oil from the pulp in a centrifuge.</p><p>After centrifugation, small amounts of oil remain in the pomace. The leftover oil can be extracted using chemical solvents and is known as olive pomace oil.</p><p>Olive pomace oil is generally cheaper than regular olive oil and has a bad reputation.</p><p>Buying the right type<strong> </strong>of olive oil is crucial. There are three main grades of olive oil — refined, virgin, and extra virgin. Extra virgin olive oil is the least processed or refined type.</p><p>Extra virgin olive oil is considered to be the healthiest type of olive oil. It's extracted using natural methods and standardized for purity and certain sensory qualities like taste and smell.</p><p>Olive oil that is truly extra virgin has a distinct taste and is high in phenolic antioxidants, which is the main reason why it's <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-benefits-of-olive-oil" target="_blank">so beneficial</a>.</p><p>Legally, vegetable oils that are labeled as olive oil cannot be diluted with other types of oils. Nevertheless, it's essential to inspect the label carefully and buy from a reputable seller.</p>
Nutrient Composition of Extra Virgin Olive Oil<p>Extra virgin olive oil is fairly nutritious.</p><p>It contains modest amounts of vitamins E and K and plenty of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/17-health-benefits-of-omega-3" target="_blank">beneficial fatty acids</a>.</p><p>One tablespoon (13.5 grams) of olive oil contains the following:</p><ul><li><strong>Saturated fat:</strong> 14%</li><li><strong>Monounsaturated fat:</strong> 73% (mostly oleic acid)</li><li><strong>Vitamin E:</strong> 13% of the Daily Value (DV)</li><li><strong>Vitamin K:</strong> 7% of the DV</li></ul><p>Notably, extra virgin olive oil shines in its antioxidant content.</p><p><a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/antioxidants-explained" target="_blank">Antioxidants</a> are biologically active, and some of them can help fight serious diseases.</p><p>The oil's main antioxidants include the anti-inflammatory oleocanthal, as well as oleuropein, a substance that protects LDL (bad) cholesterol from oxidation.</p><p>Some people have criticized olive oil for having a high <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/optimize-omega-6-omega-3-ratio" target="_blank">omega-6 to omega-3 ratio</a> (over 10:1). However, its total amount of polyunsaturated fats is still relatively low, so this shouldn't be a cause for concern.</p>
Extra Virgin Olive Oil Contains Anti-Inflammatory Substances<p><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/chronic-inflammation" target="_blank">Chronic inflammation</a> is believed to be among the leading drivers of many diseases, including heart disease, <a href="http://www.ecowatch.com/tag/cancer" target="_blank">cancer</a>, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and arthritis.</p><p>Some speculate that olive oil's ability to fight inflammation is behind its many health benefits.</p><p>Oleic acid, the most prominent fatty acid in olive oil, has been found to reduce inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein.</p><p>However, the oil's main <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-anti-inflammatory-foods" target="_blank">anti-inflammatory effects</a> seem to be due to its antioxidants, primarily oleocanthal, which has been shown to work like ibuprofen, a popular anti-inflammatory drug.</p><p>Researchers estimate that the amount of oleocanthal in 50 ml (about 3.4 tablespoons) of extra virgin olive oil exerts effects similar to those of 10 percent of the adult ibuprofen dosage for pain relief.</p><p>Also, one study showed that substances in olive oil can reduce the expression of genes and proteins that mediate inflammation.</p><p>Keep in mind that chronic, low-level inflammation is usually fairly mild, and it takes years or decades for it to do damage.</p><p>Using extra virgin olive oil may help prevent this from happening, leading to a reduced risk of various inflammatory diseases, especially heart disease.</p>
Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Cardiovascular Disease<p>Cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease and stroke, are among the most common <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/leading-causes-of-death" target="_blank">causes of death</a> in the world.</p><p>Many observational studies show that death from these diseases is low in certain areas of the world, especially in countries around the Mediterranean Sea.</p><p>This observation originally spurred interest in the <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mediterranean-diet-meal-plan" target="_blank">Mediterranean diet</a>, which is supposed to mimic the way the people in those countries eat.</p><p>Studies on the Mediterranean diet show that it can help prevent heart disease. In one major study, it reduced heart attacks, strokes, and death by 30 percent.</p><p>Extra virgin olive oil protects against heart disease via numerous mechanisms:</p><ul><li><strong>Reducing inflammation.</strong> Olive oil protects against inflammation, a key driver of heart disease.</li><li><strong>Reduces oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol.</strong> The oil protects LDL particles from oxidative damage, a key factor in the development of heart disease.</li><li><strong>Improves blood vessel health.</strong> Olive oil improves the function of the endothelium, which is the lining of the blood vessels.<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22914255" target="_blank"><span></span></a></li><li><strong>Helps manage blood clotting.</strong> Some studies suggest that olive oil can help prevent unwanted blood clotting, a key feature of heart attacks and strokes.</li><li><strong>Lowers blood pressure.</strong> One study in patients with elevated blood pressure found that olive oil reduced blood pressure significantly and lowered the need for blood pressure medication by 48 percent.</li></ul><p>Given the biological effects of olive oil, it's not surprising that people who consume the greatest amounts of it are significantly less likely to die from heart attacks and strokes.</p><p>Dozens — if not hundreds — of animal and human studies have shown that olive oil has major benefits for the heart.</p><p>In fact, the evidence is strong enough to recommend that people who have or are at a high risk of developing heart disease include plenty of extra virgin olive oil in their diets.</p>
Other Health Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil<p>Although olive oil has mostly been studied for its effects on heart health, its consumption has also been associated with a number of other <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/health" target="_blank">health benefits</a>.</p>
Olive Oil and Cancer<p><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/cancer" target="_blank">Cancer</a> is a common cause of death and characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells.</p><p>Studies have shown that people living in the Mediterranean countries have a fairly low risk of cancer, and some have speculated that olive oil has something to do with this.</p><p>One potential contributor to cancer is <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/oxidative-stress" target="_blank">oxidative damage</a> due to harmful molecules called free radicals. However, extra virgin olive oil is high in antioxidants that reduce oxidative damage.</p><p>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.</p><p>Many test-tube studies have observed that compounds in olive oil can help fight cancer at the molecular level.</p><p>That said, controlled trials in humans have yet to study whether olive oil helps prevent cancer.</p>
Olive Oil and Alzheimer's Disease<p><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/alzheimers-disease" target="_blank">Alzheimer's disease</a> is the world's most common neurodegenerative disease and a leading cause of dementia.</p><p>One feature of Alzheimer's is a buildup of protein tangles called beta-amyloid plaques in certain neurons in the brain.</p><p>A study in mice observed that a substance in olive oil can help clear these plaques.</p><p>Additionally, a controlled study in humans showed that a Mediterranean diet enriched with olive oil improved brain function and reduced the risk of cognitive impairment.</p>
Can You Cook With It?<p>During <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/healthy-cooking-oils" target="_blank">cooking</a>, fatty acids can oxidize, meaning they react with oxygen and become damaged.</p><p>The double bonds in fatty acid molecules are mostly responsible for this.</p><p>For this reason, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-8-reasons-not-to-fear-saturated-fats" target="_blank">saturated fats</a>, which have no double bonds, are resistant to high heat. Meanwhile, polyunsaturated fats, which have many double bonds, are sensitive and become damaged.</p><p>Olive oil contains mostly monounsaturated fatty acids, which have only one double bond, and is fairly resistant to high heat.</p><p>In one study, researchers heated extra virgin olive oil to 356°F (180°C) for 36 hours. The oil was highly resistant to damage.</p><p>Another study used olive oil for deep-frying, and it took 24–27 hours for it to reach damage levels that were deemed harmful.</p><p>Overall, olive oil seems to be very safe — even for cooking at fairly high heat.</p>
The Bottom Line<p>Olive oil is super healthy.</p><p>For those who have heart disease or are at a high risk of developing it, olive oil is most definitely a <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/true-superfoods" target="_blank">superfood</a>.</p><p>The benefits of this wonderful fat are among the few things that most people in nutrition agree upon.</p>
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In December, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized standards to limit the amount of mercury and other toxic pollutants that power plants can spew into the environment. As President Obama said the day the standard was announced, it was "a good day in the fight to protect our environment for the generations of Americans to come."
Toxic air pollutants from power plants—mercury, lead, arsenic and others—are linked to health problems such as cancer, heart disease, neurological damage, birth defects, asthma attacks and even premature death. Mercury, for example, is a potent neurotoxin that poses a threat to fetal and infant brain development. And coal plants are far and away the greatest source of mercury air emissions in the U.S. This historic standard will lower mercury emissions by 90 percent, help avoid up to 11,000 premature deaths per year, and contribute to a much-needed transition to a cleaner electricity system.
The Obama administration played a major role in securing this historic standard, and they have the opportunity to score another similar victory for our health and environment this year—the EPA is currently drafting standards to limit global warming emissions from power plants. But the fossil fuel industries are pressuring the Obama administration to release weak standards that will do little or nothing to protect our health and environment from climate change.
Thank President Obama for protecting the public from toxic air pollution, and let him know that you expect the EPA to release strong standards to reduce global warming emissions from power plants in 2012.
Make your letter personal by adding in your own thoughts and concerns. Every letter makes a difference, but customized letters have the greatest effect.
Read more about the standards and an analysis from Union of Concerned Scientists expert Rachel Cleetus. Learn more about regulating toxic air pollutants from power plants under the Clean Air Act and the steps the EPA must take to reduce global warming emissions.
For more information, click here.