Feeling stressed? EVOO helps regulate cortisol levels.

Feeling stressed? EVOO helps regulate cortisol levels.

Cortisol, often referred to as the "stress hormone," plays a significant role in your body's response to stress. Maintaining balanced cortisol levels is important for overall health, especially when it comes to managing stress and preventing various health problems. So it's nice to know that extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) can help regulate cortisol levels.

What is Cortisol?

Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. It helps regulate various bodily functions, including metabolism, immune response, and blood pressure. The adrenal glands are small organs on top of your kidneys that produce important hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which help control your body's response to stress and regulate other vital functions. 

A little cortisol at the right time is good. Too much too often is not.

While cortisol is essential for managing short-term stress, chronically high levels can lead to health issues such as weight gain, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system.

Effects of High Cortisol Levels

Cortisol levels that are elevated for extended periods are bad news because they can result in:

  • Weight Gain: Particularly around the abdomen.
  • High Blood Pressure: Increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Weakened Immune System: Making the body more susceptible to infections.
  • Sleep Disorders: Disrupting sleep patterns and causing insomnia.
  • Increased Blood Sugar Levels: Leading to insulin resistance and potentially type 2 diabetes.

Ways to Reduce Cortisol Levels

  • Exercise Regularly: Engage in physical activities like walking, yoga, or other forms of exercise to lower stress and cortisol levels.
  • Get Enough Sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night to help regulate cortisol levels.
  • Practice Relaxation Techniques: Try meditation, deep breathing exercises, and mindfulness to calm your mind and reduce stress. Focused prayer works here as well.
  • Spend Time with Loved Ones: Engage in social activities and hobbies that provide emotional support and reduce stress.
  • Maintain a Healthy Diet: Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and limit caffeine and sugar intake.
  • Include EVOO in Your Diet: Incorporate extra virgin olive oil into your meals for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can help regulate cortisol.

How Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) Helps Regulate Cortisol Levels

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

EVOO naturally contains polyphenols and oleic acid, which have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation can elevate cortisol levels. By reducing inflammation, EVOO helps maintain more stable cortisol levels.

Antioxidant Properties

Oxidative stress, caused by free radicals, can trigger the release of cortisol. The antioxidants in EVOO, such as vitamin E and polyphenols, help neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress, supporting better cortisol regulation.

Healthy Fats and Hormonal Balance

The monounsaturated fats in EVOO are beneficial for overall hormonal balance, including cortisol. These healthy fats support the body’s ability to manage stress more effectively, helping to keep cortisol levels in check.

Improved Blood Sugar Regulation

EVOO has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and help regulate blood sugar levels. Stable blood sugar levels are crucial for maintaining balanced cortisol levels, as blood sugar spikes can trigger cortisol release.

Incorporating EVOO into Your Diet

Daily Intake Recommendations

A little bit of EVOO every day can make a real difference. Find a great olive oil you love, and make it a daily habit. 

Practical Tips for Adding EVOO to Your Diet

  • Salad Dressings: Use EVOO as a base for homemade salad dressings.
  • Cooking Oil: Use EVOO for sautéing vegetables or as a finishing oil for cooked dishes.
  • Drizzling: Drizzle EVOO over grilled meats, fish, or roasted vegetables.

Some specific ideas

  • Breakfast: Drizzle a fruity EVOO over Greek yogurt with honey and fresh berries.
  • Lunch: Make a quinoa salad with mixed greens, chickpeas, and a lemon-olive oil dressing.
  • Dinner: Grill salmon and serve with roasted vegetables tossed in olive oil.
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