We all hear about it, but I thought I’d give a little bit of information around why extra virgin olive oil is the best oil for your diet. There is tons of research behind the health benefits of good quality olive oil. These studies show that the fatty acids and antioxidants in it have some powerful health benefits, such as reduced risk of heart disease and even cancer fighting abilities.
But first, what exactly is Extra Virgin Olive Oil and how is it made?
Olive oil is oil pressed from olives which are technically a fruit. It can literally be called olive juice! The process is incredibly simple. You press the olives and the oil comes out. That’s it! Once pressed, samples are sent off to the labs for a 2-part testing, BOTH of which have to agree that the oil is 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The first test is a chemical breakdown of the oil. Pretty straightforward. The numbers are within the standard or it fails. The 2nd test is a sensory analysis. This part is done by a panel of at least 8 certified sensory analysts to determine if the taste of the oil is supreme or if it has defects, such as rancidity or other attributes that are discoverable only in the taste of the oil. Once these 2 tests are done, the oil can be deemed Extra Virgin. In Extra Virgin olive oil, there can be ZERO defects. If there are some defects, it is classified as Virgin Olive oil. Virgin Olive Oil is still a better choice over other high saturated fat vegetable oils, but it doesn’t contain nearly the same health benefit as Extra Virgin Olive Oil. If there are many defects, it is Lampante and is unfit for human consumption. This oil gets sent to the refinery and is heavily processed to become Refined Olive Oil and has zero health benefits. For this reason, I only recommend Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
So, what kind of health benefits does Extra Virgin Olive Oil offer?
Right, let’s get to the good stuff. Extra Virgin Olive Oil contains high levels of anti-inflammatory substances. It is believed that chronic inflammation is among the leading drivers of many diseases. This includes heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer’s. One of the huge benefits to olive oil is its ability to fight inflammation. Olive oil is mostly made up of monounsaturated fat (73% actually). Of this, the most prominent fatty acid is Oleic acid (55-85%). Oleic acid is a naturally occurring compound found in high levels in olive oil that is a very powerful antioxidant. There is conclusive evidence that oleic acid can cut a woman’s risk of breast cancer by 46%. It has been shown to reduce the inflammatory markers like C-Reactive Protein! But the main anti-inflammatory effects seem to come from the exceptionally high levels of Phenols. Of these, Oleuropein and Oleocanthal in particular are huge fighters of inflammation and oxidation. Oleuropein is the powerhouse responsible for cleaning up the plague in the arteries and balancing out cholesterol issues. Oleocanthal had been shown to work like ibuprofen in the body. Have you felt that peppery burn in the back of your throat when eating Extra Virgin Olive Oil? That’s the Oleocanthal talking! And a very strong indicator that the oil is fresh and good. With the high levels of these phenols in Extra Virgin Olive Oil, as little as 1-2 tablespoons have been associated with significant anti-inflammatory benefits. In a study of over 840k people, there was a 40% reduction in strokes in people that replaced other vegetable oils with extra virgin olive oil and followed the Mediterranean diet. Those that follow the Mediterranean diet are some of the healthiest people in the world and they largely use extra virgin olive oil (LOTS of it) as the main source of fat in the diet.
Other benefits include:
Protection against heart disease by reducing inflammation which is a key driver of heart disease, protecting LDL particles from oxidative damage which is a key step in the heart disease process, and improving endothelial function which is the lining of the blood vessels.
Studies show that extra virgin olive oil can help prevent blood clotting, a key feature of heart attacks and stroke.
It also has been found to reduce blood pressure significantly and cut the needs of blood pressure medications by 48%.
Olive oil is one of the healthiest foods you can eat for heart health!
It also has nice levels of Vitamin’s E & K which are critical for ALL cell processes and strength against disease and cancers. Higher intake of monosaturated fats and vitamin E from the olive is lowering the rates of colon cancer and fights against skin aging and Alzheimer’s. There are currently extensive studies being done on cognitive function and olive oil.
So, in a nutshell….
Eat your olive oil! Your body and your tastebuds will thank you! And we are here to help inspire you with recipes and ideas on how to incorporate it into your daily diet. Whether it is tossed in your salad, used in a marinade or if you’re roasting or sauteing meats and veggies, we have flavors to inspire and easily elevate your meals.
Cheers to your health and flavorful meals =)