Olive oil is a great healthy oil to add to your cooking repertoire. A staple of the Mediterranean diet, it is considered a healthy fat and can be used for cooking of all types.
Different names for olive oil indicate the degree of processing the oil has undergone as well as the quality of the oil.
- Extra-virgin olive oil (or EVOO) is the highest grade available, followed by virgin olive oil.
- The word “virgin” indicates that the olives have been pressed to extract the oil, no heat or chemicals have been used during the extraction process, and the oil is pure and unrefined.
- Olives are a fruit, so you can think of extra virgin olive oil like a freshly pressed fruit juice.
Health Benefits of Olive Oil
- Consuming olive oil may help reduce inflammation.
- Extra virgin olive oil is the least processed, thus having the greatest amount of nutrients and antioxidants.
- The USDA recommends 5-7 teaspoons of oils or fats per day (about 2 tablespoons), and olive oil is an excellent healthy oil option.
- Olive oil is high in MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids), the fats that are good for your heart and that help lower “bad” cholesterol (LDL) while increasing the “good” cholesterol (HDL).
Delicious Ways to Enjoy Olive Oil
The flavor of olive oil varies from mild to light in virgin olive oil, to fruity and aromatic in extra virgin olive oil. Incorporating this oil into your diet can be both delicious and healthy.
Get creative and try olive oil in:
- Salad dressings or dips
- Sautés Topping or finishing soup, fish, or meat
- In place of butter or other saturated fats in baking
Incorporating olive oil into your diet can be both delicious and healthy. For information on buying olive oil, recipe ideas, and more, visit the North American Olive Oil Association at: http://www.aboutoliveoil.org.
Did You Know?
Heat, light, and air exposure can affect the quality of olive oil. Although it is best to check the best-by date and use olive oil quickly after opening a bottle, limiting exposure to heat, light, and air will help preserve the quality of your olive oil.