Not all oils are created equal. Healthy oils like olive oil and coconut oil are extracted naturally by pressing the fruit. Unhealthy oils like canola oil and generic vegetable oil are mechanically extracted sometimes using toxic chemicals and manufactured at extremely high temperatures which can change the nutritional content. Olive oil, specifically extra virgin, has many health benefits and should be part of any balanced diet.
The difference between extra virgin and virgin olive oil is in the collection process. Extra virgin olive oil is collected from the first pressing of the olives, which means it contains the most nutrients. Virgin olive oil is collected in the second pressing. Both types are a healthy choice, but if you have the option, extra virgin is the way to go.
Contrary to popular belief, eating fat does not make you fat. Hundreds of studies have been conducted surrounding those who consume high amounts of olive oil, primarily in Mediterranean diets. Most studies have shown that increased consumption of olive oil does not have any impact on weight gain or cause obesity. In fact, many studies have shown that the consumption of olive oil may even aid in weight loss.
73 percent of the oil in olive oil is composed of a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid. Oleic acid has been shown to reduce inflammation and may have positive effects on certain genes linked to cancer. Monounsaturated fats are also extremely heat resistant so the nutritional integrity of the oil won’t be compromised when cooking.
Olive oil is also loaded with antioxidants. These antioxidants have been shown to fight various diseases and health conditions. The antioxidants also fight inflammation and help to prevent cholesterol in the blood from becoming oxidized. In addition, olive oil has significant amounts of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids as well as Vitamins E and K.
The aforementioned anti-inflammation properties found in olive oil are very beneficial to your health. Inflammation is thought to be the leading cause behind many serious and sometimes fatal health conditions and diseases. People suffering from conditions such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and obesity can all benefit from olive oil’s healthy properties. One study even found that olive oil is the only source of monounsaturated fat shown to lower risk of strokes and heart disease.
Olive oil may also reduce the risk of cancer. This is thought to be because of the antioxidants and their ability to neutralize free radicals in the body. Several studies have shown that olive oil actually fights cancer cells. More research needs to be done to provide any conclusive data but the preliminary evidence is very promising.
Overall, olive oil is very healthy and provides the body with many benefits. From reducing inflammation and risk of various diseases to it’s high amount of antioxidants, it’s hard to argue against this superfood. Try sautéing your veggies in this healthy fat or drizzle a tablespoon over your popcorn instead of butter so your body can start reaping the benefits today.