Used in diverse dishes, health experts say olive oil retains all of its goodness when used for mild cooking. Extra virgin olive oil is known as the highest quality available, extracted from the olive fruit without the use of any heat or chemicals and is widely recognised as one of the world’s healthiest oils. According to nutrition expert Dieudonne Bukaba, olive oil contains a lot of monounsaturated oleic acid. This fatty acid is thought to offer several health benefits and is a good choice for cooking. He adds that extra virgin olive oil contains a high concentration of antioxidants, some of which have profound natural benefits. “Olive oil has anti-inflammatory elements. Oleic acid and the antioxidant oleocanthal are examples of them,” he says. Several significant studies show that those who ingest olive oil have a considerably decreased risk of stroke, which is the second leading cause of death in industrialised nations.” He also notes that extra virgin olive oil provides significant heart-healthy advantages. It decreases blood pressure, shields bad LDL cholesterol particles from oxidation, and enhances blood vessel function. Bukaba says that olive oil use does not appear to enhance the chance of weight gain. Moderate consumption may even assist in weight reduction. He notes that some studies show that olive oil may be beneficial in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, but further study is needed. Both observational data and clinical trials show that combining olive oil with a Mediterranean diet can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, he adds. The nutrition expert also says that preliminary data shows that olive oil may lower cancer risk, but further research is needed. He also adds that olive oil can aid with rheumatoid arthritis joint discomfort and swelling. When coupled with fish oil, the positive benefits are considerably enhanced. Bukaba says that extra virgin olive oil contains antibacterial characteristics and has been shown to be especially efficient against Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium that may cause stomach ulcers and stomach cancer. According to Emmy Ntamanga, a Kigali-based nutrition consultant, olive oil’s main antioxidants include the anti-inflammatory oleocanthal, as well as oleuropein, a substance that protects LDL (bad) cholesterol from oxidation. Ntamanga explains that olive oil also assists in managing blood clotting. Some studies suggest that olive oil can help prevent unwanted blood clotting, which could contribute to heart attack and stroke. He adds that olive oil also contains a good amount of vitamins E and K in each serving. Vitamin E is an essential nutrient that doubles as an antioxidant, while vitamin K plays a key role in bone health, blood clotting, heart health, and more. “Olive oil improves blood vessel health, and may improve the function of the endothelium, which is the lining of the blood vessels. Research suggests that monounsaturated fatty acids could benefit heart health and may even help protect against heart disease. “Olive oil is also loaded with monounsaturated fatty acids, a type of healthy fat that has been linked to several benefits,” Ntamanga says. Olive oil is believed to boost bone density. A 2018 study revealed increased bone density among women who had the highest intake of olive oil—results that held true even after accounting for the women’s intake of bone-building calcium and vitamin D. Inflammation in the body can actually turn on osteoclast cells, which break down bone, but researchers speculate that olive oil’s anti-inflammatory polyphenols may trigger mechanisms that help prevent bone breakdown and stimulate bone formation, according to the American Olive Oil Association.