There's far more to extra virgin olive oil than meets the eye (and tastebuds).
Traditionally boasting low cholesterol, fewer instances of heart disease and very little obesity, the Mediterranean diet has always been defined by the liberal use of extra virgin olive oil. The average Greek consumes 20 litres a year, compared with just 2 litres per person in Australia, so what other secrets does this nectar of the gods contain?
1. It's good for your sex life
No wonder the greatest lover in history was Italian: extra virgin olive oil may even improve your sex life. Casanova must have had excellent circulation for all those conquests; olive oil boosts circulation to all areas of the body, including those hard to reach erogenous zones.
2. Weight loss secret weapon
Twenty litres of extra virgin olive oil every year and most Mediterraneans still aren't fat. According to Leandro Ravetti, Chief Oil Maker of the award-winning Cobram Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oils, a diet rich in extra virgin olive oil may deliver greater and longer lasting weight loss results than a low-fat diet.
3. Diabetes deterrent
Eating extra virgin olive oil as part of a balanced diet may help prevent or delay the onset of diabetes. Ravetti says extra virgin helps "regulate and balance our insulin levels, so you're not really having those spikes."
4. Pain relief
Extra virgin olive oil contains a substance called oleocanthal, which has anti-inflammatory agents, meaning olive oil is like a natural Ibuprofen. Research increasingly suggests inflammation impacts a number of chronic diseases, so olive oil's anti-inflammatory properties grow more compelling all the time.
5. Skin saviour
Extra virgin olive oil helps with anti-ageing, osteoporosis and skin damage. "One that's proven is that it adds a protective coating on the skin, both through consumption and application," says Ravetti.
6. Mental agility
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat, which research suggests helps prevent or slow down the cognitive decline associated with diseases like Alzheimer's.
7. It strengthens your immune system
Loaded with antioxidants - vital for strengthening and protecting your immune system - extra virgin olive oil may help you become more resistant to infection. This wide range of important antioxidants isn't found in other oils.
8. It keeps your body running smoothly
t's not just vehicles that benefit from a regular oil change; extra virgin olive oil contributes to the operational health of such vital areas as the stomach, pancreas and intestines.
9. Pregnancy aid
Not only can olive oil application assist in avoiding stretch marks, consuming extra virgin olive oil while pregnant may improve your child's psychomotor reflexes and more.
Since extra virgin olive oil assists in the prevention and/or reduced impact of so many diseases - including certain cancers - it's no exaggeration to say it may even help you live longer. Not bad for something that's also delicious.