Fats in the diet are highly controversial.
You’ll see people arguing about animal fats, seed oils and almost everything in between. But one of the few fats that most people agree is healthy is extra virgin olive oil. This oil, part of the Mediterranean diet, is a traditional fat that has been a dietary staple for some of the world’s healthiest populations.
There is actually quite a bit of research behind the health effects of olive oil. These studies show that the fatty acids and antioxidants in it have some powerful health benefits, such as a reduced risk of heart disease.
What is Olive Oil and How is it Made?
Olive oil is oil that is pressed from olives, the fruits of the olive tree. The process is incredibly simple…you just press the olives and the oil comes out.
The best type is extra virgin olive oil. It is extracted using natural methods and standardized for purity and certain sensory qualities like taste and smell. Olive oil that is truly extra virgin has a distinctive taste and is high in phenolic antioxidants, the main reason why (real) olive oil is so beneficial.
Nutrient composition of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is fairly nutritious. It contains modest amounts of Vitamins E and K and plenty of beneficial fatty acids. This is the nutrient content of 100 grams of olive oil:
- Saturated Fat: 13.8%
- Monounsaturated Fat: 73% (most of it the 18 carbon long oleic acid)
- Omega-6: 9.7%
- Omega-3: 0.76%
- Vitamin E: 72% of the RDA
- Vitamin K: 75% of the RDA
But where extra virgin olive oil really shines is in its content of antioxidants. These substances are biologically active and some of them can help fight serious diseases. Some of the main antioxidants are the anti-inflammatory oleocanthal, as well as oleuropein, a substance that protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation.
Some people have criticized olive oil for having a high Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio, but keep in mind that the total amount of polyunsaturated fats is still relatively low, so this shouldn’t be a cause for concern.
– Article by Kris Gunnars, BSC, Authority Nutrition