Olive Oil: the healthiest fat


Olive oil is made of olives. These fruits are high in antioxidants and harvested when black to produce olive oil. Olive trees were cultivated in the Mediterranean as long ago as 3000 BC.

The oil is the juice of crushed olives and contains no additives or preservatives. Olive oil contains monounsaturated fat, a healthier type of fat that can lower your risk of heart disease by reducing the total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad") cholesterol levels in your blood. It is also high in vitamin E which has protective properties against heart disease. In contrast, saturated and trans fats — such as butter, animal fats, tropical oils and partially hydrogenated oils — increase your risk of heart disease by increasing your total and LDL cholesterol levels.

The prevention of skin, breast and colon cancer has been linked to properties such as oleic acid and phenols, found in olive oil. According to the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA), consuming about 2 tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil a day may reduce your risk of heart disease. You can get the most benefit by substituting olive oil for saturated fats rather than just adding more olive oil to your diet.

All types of olive oil contain monounsaturated fat, but "extra-virgin" or "virgin" olive oils are the least processed forms, so they're the most heart healthy. Those types contain the highest levels of polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant that also can promote heart health. Olive oil comes in a number of varieties, including virgin, light or mild and extra virgin. All are the same in terms of fat content, either types of fat or total amounts of fat.

The difference in olive oils lies mostly in the flavour. Extra virgin is low in acid, resulting in a fruity flavor and aroma, so you don't need to use as much to enjoy the flavor. Virgin olive oil is more acidic, meaning you need to use more to get the distinct Olive oil flavor. Light olive oil is lighter in color and flavor, making it perfect for baking and cooking. Whichever type of olive oil you prefer, remember they all have something else in common: They are all high in total fat and calories, so pour with moderation! When cooking or baking with olive oil, choose a mild or light olive oil because it has a higher smoking point. If you cook with extra virgin oil, it will oxidise fast and burn. You will see smoke coming up from your pan.

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