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You may want to take a swig of olive oil the next time you head to the beach or out on a hike. New research suggests consuming olive oil may help protect your face from the sun's aging effects - or so-called “photo-aging.”

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Photo by Chris Fleizach, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons[/caption]

“Our findings provide support for a beneficial role of olive oil in preventing severe facial photo-aging,” the researchers wrote in their study. “A lower risk of severe photo-aging was associated with higher intakes of monounsaturated fatty acids from olive oil in both sexes."

The French study was carried by PubMed Central, an electronic archive at the U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine.

Researchers studied 1,264 women and 1,655 men, between 45 and 60 years old. The results suggested that a lower risk of severe photo-aging was tied to higher consumption of monounsaturated fatty acids from olive oil and other vegetable oils.

However, olive oilmay deliver the biggest benefit versus the other two most commonly consumed vegetable oils, peanut and sunflower.

“Of the three most frequently consumed oils,” the researchers wrote, “a significant association was found for olive oil.” The researchers reported no such association was found from consumption of monounsaturated fatty acids that come from animal sources, including dairy products, meat, or processed meat.

In addition, the study found “healthy diet habits associated with olive oil consumption” may play a role, too, in protecting your face from the sun’s aging effects.

“The consumption of olive oil in our population was also positively associated with high consumption of fruits, vegetables, fish and tea, and negatively associated with sweet products, butter and milk,” the researchers said. “In that sense, the consumption of olive oil could also be considered as a marker of a healthy diet.”

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