Incorporating olive oil into your diet and skin-care regimen can produce numerous anti-aging rewards.

Next time you’re getting ready to prepare a meal, don’t reach for the nonstick cooking spray. Instead, grab a bottle of olive oil—your skin might just thank you.

Studies suggest that olive oil is not only a healthy alternative to vegetable cooking sprays and salad dressings, but it can also deliver wonderful anti-aging benefits when consumed through eating plans such as Mediterranean diets. A report I authored in 2007 that was published in The Journal of Pathology discusses the role of antioxidants like vitamin E in contributing to radiant, younger-looking skin. The healthy amount of vitamin E found in olive oil has been shown to be successful in neutralizing free radicals and photoaging from UVA rays that damage skin cells, helping to maintain the appearance of youth.

Olive oil is also packed with monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which are good fats that may help people live longer, healthier lives when eaten in moderation. MUFAs help lower cholesterol and prevent inflammation in the body.

In addition, olive oil contains linoleic acid, a component of skin that helps prevent water from evaporating (water is another substance that promotes a youthful appearance). People who are deficient in linoleic acid can develop dry, flaky skin. Since linoleic acid is not produced naturally in the body, it needs to be supplemented in the diet or topically applied to the skin.

Olive oil is not just for cooking.

It can be applied directly to the skin as a moisturizer for the face, hands and feet. You can also use it on your hair to replace your usual deep conditioning treatment, or put a few drops in your next bath; feel your skin soak up the nutrients. Olive oil makes a great after-sun moisturizer for those hot summer days spent on the beach or at the lake. Use it on your lips to keep them moisturized and provide a buttery-soft feel.

When purchasing olive oil for your kitchen and bathroom, stick with extra virgin olive oil. These products feature oil made from the first press of olives, which contains the largest amount of antioxidants. A single tablespoon contains 9.8 grams of MUFAs, and the FDA states that two tablespoons daily can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Mix in a healthy diet and exercise plan while incorporating olive oil into your daily routine to best reap this skin and health aids full benefits.

Leslie Baumann, M.D., FAAD, is an internationally renowned, board-certified dermatologist, New York Times best-selling author, media personality and lecturer. CEO of Baumann Cosmetic & Research Institute and founder of the University of Miamis Cosmetic Medicine & Research Institute, she authored the bestselling Cosmetic Dermatology: Principles and Practice and The Skin Type Solution, and has appeared on Good Morning America, The Today Show and The Discovery Channel.