Olive oil a primary component of Italian cuisine, whether used in your grandmother’s kitchen or the finest restaurants throughout Italy; it’s one of the most essential and versatile ingredients in the world of cooking. Although it is used so frequently by so many different people, some are still unaware of what makes this product so significant. To fully appreciate olive oil and extra virgin olive oil, one must understand the unique production process and various health benefits.
Olive oil is one of the few cooking oils produced through natural extraction instead of chemical extraction, which protects the delicate fatty acids and nutrients in the oil. It provides a variety of health benefits when used in place of saturated fats in your diet and is considered a heart-healthy oil because it contains “good” fats and very few “bad” fats. Good fats, which include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, are a necessary part of a healthy diet. Bad fats, which should be avoided, include saturated fats and trans fats.
The high content of monounsaturated fats has a positive effect on the body’s cholesterol levels, lowering bad LDL cholesterol and raising the good HDL cholesterol. HDL cholesterol benefits the body by cleaning excess cholesterol from the blood vessels and then exiting the body, whereas LDL cholesterol accumulates in the arteries and increases the risk of heart disease. Extra virgin olive oil offers anti-inflammatory benefits, which also help protect against heart disease, as well as lowers blood pressure, reduces blood clots and improves the function of the lining of blood vessels. A diet rich in olive oils can also improve arterial function, reducing the risk of damage and dysfunction of the inner artery walls.
Extra virgin olive oil’s anti-inflammatory benefits and consumption of EVOO have been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and certain types of cancer, including breast cancer and digestive tract cancer. For these reasons, olive oil can, in fact, be considered healthy. With its unique production and multiple health benefits, extra virgin olive oil is a remarkable product that shouldn’t be overlooked and underappreciated simply because it is an everyday product. Olive oil is one of the best ways to add good fat to your diet because of its versatility: incorporate olive oil into your diet by dressing or finishing a meal with it, cook or fry with it, or even use as a fat in your desserts. Use our conversion chart below as a guide for using olive oil in place of liquid fats in your favorite recipes.