Extra virgin olive oil, pressed freshly from olives, is the only oil that can be eaten as is.
All the studies on the Mediterranean diet show how important the health benefits of olive oil are. Plus, extra virgin olive oil, when eaten raw, has a wonderful flavor that can enrich salads, pasta, bread, fish and more.
So olive oil is a good fat and good fats are essential to a healthy diet.
For best results, focus on the oils and fats essential to great health – mainly monounsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, with some saturated fat.
Why is Olive Oil Good for You?
Extra virgin olive oil has the most heart-healthy monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acids and anti-inflammatory polyphenol antioxidants of any oil.
As a Mediterranean diet staple, olive oil has proven to have super benefits:
- Reduces your risk of heart disease,
- Benefits control over blood sugar,
- Decreases your blood pressure,
- Lowers total blood cholesterol,
- Reduces the odds of cancer,
- Has anti-clotting properties,
- Improves LDL/HDL ratio,
- Helps you lose weight,
- Lengthens your life,
- Plus much more.
According to one study, fresh extra virgin olive oil contains a compound called oleocanthal that acts similarly to ibuprofen for relieving pain.
And many studies show olive oil helps reduce the risk of breast cancer, respiratory cancer, upper digestive tract cancer and colorectal cancers.
How to Choose and Use Olive Oil
All the varieties of olive oil below are extracted by pressing olives. And all olive oil has 120 calories per tablespoon. So, what’s the difference?
- Organic extra virgin olive oil is considered the healthiest and comes from the first pressing of organic olives.
- Extra virgin olive oil comes from the first pressing of non-organic olives. The first pressing retains the most nutrients.
- Virgin olive oil comes from the second pressing.
- Pure olive oil undergoes some filtering and refining.
- Extra light olive oil is highly processed, with a mild olive flavor.
Extra virgin olive oil has the most antioxidants and best flavor. If it seems too expensive, buy it anyway and cut the amount you use in half. This will still give you all the olive oil health benefits, with fewer calories.
Although organic extra virgin olive oil is best, olives are relatively pest-free and aren’t highly sprayed, so don’t sweat it if you can’t afford organic.
But heat and light destroy olive oil nutrients and cause fats to turn rancid.
So be sure to buy your oil in dark-colored bottles and store it in the fridge. And since cold olive oil becomes semi-solid, pour some into a wide mouth container (like an empty peanut butter jar) to scoop out when needed.
Eating and Cooking with Olive Oil
Although you can cook with olive oil, it’s not stable at high temperatures. So, if you do use olive oil for cooking, be sure to keep the heat low.
But the best way to get the most extra virgin olive oil health benefits is to eat it fresh and raw in salad dressings and dips, with 100% whole grain breads and on top of pasta, vegetables and other healthy dishes.
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