Olive oil is an essential component of the Mediterranean diet, which has been linked to heart health and longevity. When you buy a bottle of oil oil, you may notice the label states the following:
Limited and not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that eating about two tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to the monounsaturated fat in olive oil. To achieve this possible benefit, olive oil is to replace a similar amount of saturated fat and not increase the total number of calories you eat in a day.
The coronary arteries provide blood to your heart muscle. The monounsaturated fats in olive oil help to keep those arteries clear so your heart can get enough oxygen and nutrients to keep pumping.
Olive oil is good for your heart and keeps your cholesterol levels healthy, but that’s not all it can do. Extra virgin olive oil contains polyphenols that can reduce inflammation and help to prevent some forms of cancer.
Here are some ideas for including more olive oil in your diet:
- Use olive oil dressing on your favorite salad.
- Dip pieces of 100-percent whole grain bread in a dish of olive oil that has been dusted with pepper and oregano.
- Sprinkle green vegetables with olive oil instead of margarine or butter.
- Make pesto and serve with your favorite pasta.
- Prepare your own cranberry vinaigrette for salads.
- Add flavor to olive oil by infusing the oil with sprigs of rosemary or other dried herbs.
Store olive oil in a dark, cool spot in a tightly covered container. You can keep olive oil in the refrigerator; however, it will get thick and cloudy. That’s OK, the olive oil will return to normal when it stands at room temperature.
Keep in mind that while olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, it’s still high in calories. If you need to watch your weight, you’ll need to watch your intake of olive oil — one serving is two tablespoons, and that’s all you need per day.
Covas MI, Nyyssonen K, Poulsen HE, Kaikkonen J, Zunft HJ, Kiesewetter H, Gaddi A, de la Torre R, Mursu J, Baumler H, Nascetti S, Salonen JT, Fito M, Virtanen J, Marrugat J, EUROLIVE Study Group. “The effect of polyphenols in olive oil on heart disease risk factors: a randomized trial.” Ann Intern Med. 2006 Sep 5;145(5):333-41.