The Health Benefits of Olive Oil

In terms of healthfulness, olive oil may be superior to most other oils, with its monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Look for extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) when you’re shopping. EVOO is the highest quality of olive oil you can purchase. It is unrefined, made from pure, cold-pressed olives. It also retains more of the olive taste. Light olive oil is often the other type of olive oil found in stores and can include a combination of cold-pressed and processed oils.

Here are a few reasons to make EVOO your primary cooking oil:

Monounsaturated fats – these fatty acids have been thought to reduce LDL, or bad, cholesterol levels and raise HDL, or good, cholesterol levels. Those who consume more than 12% energy intake from monounsaturated fats have been linked to lower fat mass and decreased blood pressure compared with those who eat less than 12% of energy intake as monounsaturated fats.

Polyunsaturated fats – these fatty acids significantly benefit the cardiovascular system.

Antioxidants – Higher grade extra virgin olive oil contains plenty of polyphenols that act as antioxidants and can reduce inflammation.

Satiates and slows absorption of nutrients – olive oil provides a satiating effect, which will help you feel fuller quicker. Its fatty acids also help slow absorption of other nutrients.

Skin benefits – olive oil is thought to promote skin health as well. It’s not only safe to use on your face, it penetrates deeply into the skin to cleanse and will not clog pores. If you have sensitive skin, consult your dermatologist before using it on your skin.

Tips for incorporating olive oil in your diet:

  1. Use it in sauces. A great example of an olive oil-based sauce is pesto.
  2. Drizzle it on a sandwich. Skip the saturated fat found in mayonnaise and instead drizzle some olive oil on your whole grain bread to make for a surprisingly tasty sandwich.
  3. Select olive oil over unhealthier fatty foods like butter and margarine.
  4. Fry your eggs in a touch of olive oil.
  5. Mix it with fresh lemon juice and drizzle it over your salad.

And of course, even though it’s a healthy fat, olive oil is high in calories, so watch how much you’re consuming – just like anything else, moderation is key!

References: Today’s Dietitian, Eatright.org