Researchers can’t get over the astounding healing properties of olive oil. A staple food in the Mediterranean, this delicious oil has contributed to the cuisine and health of people in the region for centuries. Extra-virgin olive oil is a potent source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. It reduces inflammation in the body, helps control blood sugar and supports overworked adrenal glands — a key issue for anyone trying to heal from insomnia. Did someone say miracle food?
1. Adrenal stress is linked to fatigue. Under chronic stress, the adrenal glands pump out too much cortisol and other stress hormones to help the body weather the storm. This always-on stress environment leads to high levels of oxidative damage and the release of too many free radical molecules. Free radicals damage the delicate ephithelial cells that line our organs and arteries and lead directly to chronic diseases. If you don’t manage your stress, you will quickly slide into adrenal fatigue and your body will start to break down.
2. Free radicals worsen chronic fatigue. In a study, researchers found that elevated free radicals contribute to the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Increased consumption of antioxidants may help reduce these symptoms. That’s good news for people with chronic insomnia and adrenal fatigue, who display many of the same symptoms as CFS.
3. DHPEA-EDA in olive oil fights free radicals. Extra-virgin olive oil contains more of the polyphenol compound DHPEA-EDA, an important antioxidant, than any other oil: up to half the antioxidants in olive oil are DHPEA-EDA. According to a recent study published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, DHPED-EDA is the most effective substance known for fighting free radical damage, even when taken in low concentrations.
4. Extra-virgin olive oil cools inflammation. Studies show that fatigue sufferers have higher levels of inflammation in their bodies. This increases insulin resistance and makes blood sugar unstable. As a result, the adrenal glands have to work harder. Olive oil interrupts that cycle, giving your adrenals a well-deserved break. In addition to containing the potent anti-inflammatory oleocanthal, extra-virgin olive oil is also one of the best sources of both oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol, antioxidants that also reduce inflammatory chemicals in the body.
5. Olive oil stabilizes blood sugar spikes. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat that helps control blood sugar (glucose). A study published in the journal of the German Diabetes Association found that glucose levels were lower in people who ate monounsaturated fats than those who avoided all fats. You must eat healthy fats every day for good health, particularly if you are managing blood sugar problems.
6. Handle with care. Extra-virgin olive oil is best when fresh, unfiltered, dark golden-yellow or green in color, cold-pressed and packaged in dark glass bottles. The extra-virgin olive oil that gives you a peppery hit in the back of your throat has the most antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. These qualities fade with time, so buy smaller bottles instead of gallon-sized jugs that will be well aged by the time you get to the bottom of the container. Purchase the highest-quality olive oil you can afford, as much of the lower-priced varieties have been mixed with less expensive oils. (For more information on how to track down high-quality fresh olive oil, click here.)
Heat destroys the healing benefits of extra-virgin olive oil. It’s best to keep it in a cool, dark place. Refrigeration is an option to maintain its potency and freshness — the oil will go semisolid and cloudy, but will quickly come to room temperature for use. You can keep a small amount in a dark, tightly capped bottle on the counter to toss onto salads or drizzle over food that is already cooked. Use pure (refined) olive oil to cook with at very low temps, because it is more stable when heated. Coconut oil, which contains monounsaturated fats but has a high flashpoint, is better for cooking at higher temperatures.
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