Olive oil may be unique among dietary oils for its anti-aging benefits to your skin. Though this is not advocating a high-oil diet, it seems that should you use oil in your food, olive oil may be the best choice for your skin.
A recent study in France revealed that the signs of skin photoaging were significantly lower in people who regularly consumed olive oil in their diets. The study surveyed almost 3,000 French men and women aged 45-60 and correlated dietary information with photographic ratings of skin photoaging.
The study’s investigators removed confounding factors that impact skin aging (such as smoking, sun exposure history, body mass index, menopausal or hormone replacement status, home geographic location, etc.) and olive oil consumption was still correlated with younger looking, less sun-damaged skin.
Consumption of dietary fats from animal sources (i.e. dairy and meat) was not associated with this protective phenomenon, nor was consumption of the other most frequently used vegetable oils in the French study population (safflower and peanut oil).
The scientists carrying out the study concluded that olive oil may be uniquely beneficial to the skin’s health because of it’s rich polyphenol antioxidants and squalene content
Both of these act as antioxidants to help fight oxidative free radical damage. Sun damage of skin is caused by oxidative free radical reactions. They noted that
Squalene is to a large extent sequestered in the skin (sebum is reported to contain 12%), where it is believed to exert a major protective effect against free radical damage and skin dryness. Polyphenols are also known to be powerful radical scavengers. Both squalene and polyphenols have been assumed to be primarily responsible for the beneficial effects of the Mediterranean diet.
The polyphenols and squalene may help bolster your skin’s defenses against stray UV rays. Simply substituting olive oil for other dietary oils may give you a slightly better edge over wrinkles, sun spots, and skin cancer – helping to keep your skin healthy and younger looking.
But remember, it is still important to use a protective SPF cream daily to portect the skin from damaging UV rays. It’s the single most important skin care step for preventing wrinkles, premature skin thinning (solar elastosis), uneven pigment, and skin cancer.