When it comes to promoting long term health and wellness, the Mediterranean diet is the first to come to mind. And at the base of the Mediterranean diet is one of our favorite cooking fats, olive oil. It's used to start and finish nearly every dish, both sweet and savory.
Few ingredients rival the exceptional qualities of this fat, especially extra virgin. In this comprehensive guide, we explore the best olive oil for health, unlocking its secrets and empowering you to make informed choices for a healthier lifestyle.
What is the best olive oil for health?
The best olive oil for health is extra virgin olive oil (EVOO).
There are three main types of olive oil:
- extra virgin.
Extra virgin is the highest quality and the most challenging to produce. It's extracted from the first milling (AKA pressing) of the olive fruit which helps to preserve the highest levels of antioxidants, vitamins, and anti-inflammatory compounds.
In addition, it must meet certain specifications for both lab tests and organoleptic tastings.
Related: How EVOO is made
Why is olive oil so good for your health?
Extra virgin olive oil is packed with antioxidants, oleic acids, and healthy fat making it one of the best fats you can consume. It also contains oleocanthal, a natural compound with anti-inflammatory properties similar to ibuprofen.
The product is also rich in monounsaturated fats, a type of fat derived from plant sources. Lastly, the EVOO promotes heart health by reducing bad cholesterol levels and lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Researchers have been studying the product extensively for the past 50 years uncovering a myriad of health benefits. Here is a list of some of the health benefits EVOO can provide:
- prevent cardiovascular disease
- prevent neurodegenerative disease
- prevent osteoporosis
- prevent and help manage type 2 diabetes
- manage weight
- aid with digestion
- act as an anti-inflammatory
What's the deal with polyphenols?
Polyphenols are a type of antioxidant found in plants, one of the most well known being the olive fruit. The high content of polyphenols in EVOO contributes to its powerful antioxidant properties, protecting cells from oxidative stress and inflammation.
These antioxidants also play a role in combating chronic diseases such as cancer. Research indicates that regularly consuming extra virgin olive oil can help prevent cardiovascular disease. And according to this study, regularly consuming can help slow of neurodegenerative diseases and cancer.
Related: Why EVOO is so polyphenol rich
How to incorporate more EVOO into your diet
It's meant to be used for both finishing and cooking which means you can eat it raw. Use it in salad dressings, drizzle it over vegetables, or use it to cook your favorite foods such as eggs, chicken, or vegetables.
When cooking with EVOO we recommend keeping the heat on medium and preheating the pan well. You do not need to worry about smoking as long as you aren't cooking with a wok or on extreme high heat for extended periods of time.
Related: How to cook with olive oil
How to find a high quality EVOO
Choosing a high-quality, authentic EVOO is crucial. Look for products in a dark glass bottle, such as EXAU, as exposure to light can degrade its quality.
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