In my two-person household, we go through a lot of olive oil. Not only do we cook daily, often with this heart-healthy oil, but I also make all our friends and family organic soap. Buying three to four bottles of organic olive oil at a time means that we have found many uses for this traditional Mediterranean ingredient.
Think about what you use olive oil for — to sauté or roast vegetables? To make a healthy and delicious salad dressing? If so, these are great ways to include more olive oil into your diet, but have you thought of all of its other uses? If you have some spare olive oil hanging out in your cupboard, why not try something new?
For years, olive oil has been viewed as a heart-healthy alternative, offering your body a rich supply of monounsaturated or “healthy” fat. Packed with antioxidants and key nutrients, this oil will promote positive health — both inside and out.
Yes, that’s right, olive oil can be used for a wide range of applications, including culinary, beauty and a range of other beneficial purposes. It’s time to switch things up, using olive oil in the following ways.
1. Make your arteries more elastic
The hardening of arteries, also known as atherosclerosis, is a condition that causes the arteries to narrow and eventually harden. This is due to cholesterol deposits, combined with fat and other substances, creating plaque — which leads to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
Olive oil offers many nutrients and antioxidants, but it is its high vitamin E content that directly influences the elasticity of your arteries. Studies have shown that foods that are high in this vitamin, such as olive oil, promote both vein and artery health, improving overall circulation.
2. Reduce hunger and cravings
Olive oil has been shown to benefit a balanced diet when aiming to lose weight, but could it actually stave off hunger? Well, according to scientists, even the smell of this oil can make us feel full. This was documented in a study, which focused on an aroma compound that is not found in other fats and oils.
Tracking individuals who ate 500 grams of yogurt daily for three months, researchers found that those who had added olive oil, in comparison to lard, butter or grapeseed, ate fewer calories and gained zero weight. After taking blood tests, it was found that those individual exhibited higher levels of serotonin — a hormone that makes us feel full and satisfied.
3. Treat sunburn
Nothing is worse than a sunburn — both in terms of comfort levels and skin health. When you’re outside without proper protection, both UVA and UVB rays will damage your skin. Of course, you need some sun exposure to stimulate the production of vitamin D, but get too much, and you will be left with a painful burn.
Olive oil is a healing food that will not only protect you internally but externally as well. When you get a sunburn, apply olive oil directly to your skin. This will enhance the healing process and inhibit the effects of bacteria on the newly developed skin. You can also include a couple drops of lavender and peppermint essential oil to create an even more effective remedy.
4. Reduce your risk of cancer
No one wants to think of cancer — let’s face it, it’s a terrible disease that takes far too many young lives. Research has shown that although there are many contributing factors, when it comes to cancer risk, our lifestyles play a significant role. What you eat can directly influence the development of the disease.
Luckily, foods like olive oil offer protective properties. More specifically, the primary phenolic compound in olive oil, known as oleocanthal, has been shown to kill cancer cells in less than an hour. These results were documented in one key study published in Molecular & Cellular Oncology.
5. Promote positive brain health
With increasing rates of Alzheimer’s, the general population is looking for answers. Although we do not know the exact cause of Alzheimer’s at this time, plenty of research has provided clues as to how we can protect our brain health and, in turn, reduce our risk of neurodegenerative diseases.
When consuming olive oil on a daily basis, you can actually target inflammation, reducing your risk of cognitive decline. In fact, one study found that when mice were given olive oil, oxidative damage in the brain was reversed. This is due to the potent antioxidants found in olive oil, as well as the healthy fats.
6. Eliminate refined oils
When you welcome olive and coconut oil in your home, you can quickly eliminate all heavily refined and processed oils. Some of these low-nutrient oils include soybean, vegetable, corn, canola and hydrogenated oil. You especially want to avoid margarine, a synthetic oil that contains health-damaging trans fats.
Unlike these heavily processed oils, which are heated and treated with chemicals, extra virgin olive oil has been extracted in a more natural form, leaving its nutritional value intact. Although every household should have olive oil on hand, you can also substitute refined oils with unrefined coconut, flaxseed, walnut and avocado oil.
7. Use as a carrier oil for beneficial essential oils
Essential oils offer potent therapeutic properties that can be administered in a number of ways. When aiming to apply essential oils to your skin, olive oil is a great “carrier” oil. This will allow you to dilute the potency of essential oils, all while hydrating and healing your skin. Simply add four to five drops of essential oil to two tablespoons of olive oil and apply to skin.
8. Lower your blood pressure
Olive oil offers anti-hypertensive effects. In some cases, when patients begin a low-saturated diet enriched with olive oil, they were able to eliminate blood pressure medications. Within one key study, published in the American Society for Clinical Nutrition, olive oil was found to be inversely associated with systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
9. Target a dry, itchy scalp
Olive oil is not only rich in antioxidants but also contains nutrients like vitamin A and E, as well as key fatty acids. When applied to your scalp, you will naturally moisturize your skin and promote antibacterial effects. In turn, you can improve hair and hair health, while reducing dandruff and damage caused by styling products.
10. Condition your hair
Being an experienced soapmaker, I have all kinds of beneficial oils and ingredients lying around. I have also made dozens of all-natural conditioners in the past. Since I stopped dying my hair and exposing it to excessive amounts of heat, it is healthier and longer than ever before.
When your hair is damaged and overprocessed, it may be highly porous — quickly losing luster and moisture. When you apply olive oil as a leave-in conditioner, it will help lock in moisture, influencing a more ideal balance. Simply combine equal parts of olive oil, lemon juice and water. Massage into your scalp and leave on for 20 minutes.
11. Moisturize your lips
During the winter months, we tend to experience cracked, dry lips. Just as olive oil can target a dry scalp and itchy skin, it will also condition and protect your lips, thanks to its fatty acids and vitamin content. Whenever you experience chapped lips, apply a thin layer of olive oil three to four times daily.
12. Cleanse sensitive skin
For all you folks with sensitive skin, you know that conventional skin care products can be overly harsh, causing more harm than good. Olive oil is the perfect solution for oil cleansing — a method that uses beneficial oils to dissolve hardened oil in your skin. When massaged into your pores, olive oil can help remove impurities.
Put simply, in terms of chemistry, likes dissolve likes. Meaning, if you have a buildup of hardened sebum, other oils can dissolve this “dirty” oil, helping to treat sensitive skin. All you need to do is massage olive oil into your face, before allowing it to sit for 10 minutes. Then, using a hot cloth, wash your face and repeat two times weekly.
13. Benefit from anti-aging properties
Whether you want to target wrinkles or age spots, olive oil has been shown to promote key anti-aging properties. Not only will it promote healthy skin outside, but researchers have found that olive oil also reduces signs of aging at the cellular level. Mice who were given olive oil, in comparison to sunflower, exhibited improvements in terms of the structure and function of cells.
14. Make soap
My husband calls me the soap lady. To be fair, I have experimented with a wide range of ingredients, including our own organic homebrewed beer (yes, believe it or not, beer is good for your skin). Unlike conventional soap bars that are absent of beneficial compounds, cold-pressed olive oil soap will cleanse while it moisturizes and heals. Make your own soap today!
15. Treat blackheads
I was lucky in that I never suffered from acne, but as a teenager, I remember how much I hated blackheads — ugh, the worst. When you see a blackhead, this is a clogged hair follicle that has been darkened by oxidation. As mentioned above, olive oil can be massaged into the skin in order to target clogged pores. This is especially beneficial in the T-zone, as well as for those who suffer from blackheads on their shoulders or back.
16. Treat cellulite
I wish the general population was not so overly concerned about their appearance and that everyone practiced self-love — but hey, you can’t have everything. For those who are embarrassed by their cellulite, olive oil can assist your efforts, helping you rejuvenate your skin. Some of the best home remedies for cellulite also include coffee grinds, apple cider vinegar, seaweed wraps and green clay.
17. Remove makeup
Makeup removers are often harsh on your skin, causing dry, flaky areas to surface. Remember how we talked about oil cleansing? Well, most makeups contain oils and wax, so when you apply olive oil, you will effectively dissolve makeup so that it can be washed away. Also, olive oil is known to be comedogenic, meaning, it will not clog your pores.
18. Shave your legs
Like most conventional beauty products, shaving creams contain toxins that are absorbed through your skin. Some of the worst toxins to look out for include parfum (fragrance), phthalates and triethanolamine. These chemicals have been linked to hormone disruption, cancer and neurotoxicity.
If you want to eliminate these toxins, achieve smoother skin and save money, take olive oil into the shower with you and apply to your legs. Or, for you gentlemen, apply it to your face, allowing you to moisturize as you shave. You can save money while you protect your health — it’s a win-win!
19. Use within baking recipes
If you often use margarine or Crisco for baking, it’s important that you change your baking habits. These ingredients are known to influence the development of many diseases. Instead, substitute for olive oil or even infused olive oil — an ingredient I love to include when making fresh bread.
20. Reduce mosquito breeding grounds
It’s no secret that mosquitoes carry diseases. When it is the peak breeding season, you’ll want to intervene. These bloodsucking creatures lay their eggs in standing water. If you have a rain barrel or a container of collected water for your garden, put olive oil into it. Being lighter than water, it will float on the top, smothering the larvae. If you have a fish pond, instead of using olive oil, introduce fish that eat the larvae, including goldfish, koi and guppies.
21. Protect foods from freezer burn
Freezer burn is the worst. If air is reaching frozen food, dehydration and oxidation occur. In turn, you’re left with food that is often ruined. To avoid this, you can freeze foods in jars, adding a thin layer of olive oil. As you’d expect, this will reduce contact with air. This is also why you should freeze herbs in ice cube trays filled with olive oil — it will preserve them.
22. Eliminate lice
Ew, have you ever seen a photograph of lice? They’re not exactly something you want running around your head, trust me. If you or someone in your family has lice, apply an olive oil treatment to your hair and scalp. Wrap your hair and leave it on overnight. As the oil coats the skin of adult lice, they die due to a lack of oxygen.
23. Unzip a stubborn zipper
Whether you can’t get your jeans or bag zipped up, olive oil can help unstick a sticky situation. Acting as a natural lubricant, you will safely and effectively fix a stubborn, stuck zipper. Simply apply a small amount of olive oil to the zipper teeth and it will loosen up.
After reading this list, hopefully you see olive oil for what it is — a healing, health-boosting home remedy. Incorporate some of these tips and tricks into your daily life, ensuring a more balanced, healthy lifestyle.
— Krista Hillis