By now, you’ve probably busted the myth that fats are bad for you. Because it is just that — a myth. Some of our favorite science-backed healthy fats include coconut and avocado oils. But do you know what else is an excellent choice of fat? Extra virgin olive oil.
We use extra virgin olive oil today in the same ways the Mediterranean people used it centuries ago. We eat it, we cook with it, we heal with it and we moisturize with it. Since ancient times, the olive tree has been well respected and because of that, it inspired countless rituals and traditions. Originally, olives were planted and cultivated for the use of their oil as a light source. There is a difference between olive oil, extra virgin olive oil, and light olive oil. EVOO is the purest and highest quality with the best flavor. It’s produced by cold pressing the olives and pits. Over time, as cultivation spread and production became easier, olive oil was used more and more for culinary and health purposes.
One tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil offers a wide range of essential nutrients including Vitamin E, Vitamin K, polyphenols, Omega-6 and Omega-3. Extra virgin olive oil doesn’t contain any carbohydrates. About 75 percent of the fat from extra virgin olive oil is monounsaturated, a type of oleic acid that has been shown to decrease total blood cholesterol.
3 Health Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fats are essential to human life and make up a large part of our bodies. We wouldn’t be able to absorb vital vitamins without fat in our diets. Healthy fats, such as extra virgin olive oil, can help eliminate stress, improve moods, decrease mental fog and manage your weight. The medical uses of EVOO can be traced thousands of years into the past. For example, Greeks used it for therapeutic reasons and believed it to be the secret to beauty and longevity. And they weren’t wrong! Here are some more health benefits of extra virgin olive oil.
Extra virgin olive oil has been proven to reduce the risk of diabetes by regulating blood sugar and by improving insulin sensitivity. It has also been noted that this oil helps you feel full after eating by stimulating the gastrocolic reflex, which helps to digest food as it’s consumed. EVOO is a nutrient-dense fat that helps you feel much more satisfied after eating.
Extra virgin olive oil can also protect your brain against Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia that comes with aging. In people with this disease, there is a buildup of proteins called beta amyloids. Extra virgin olive oil is shown to help clear these proteins from the brain. Polyphenols, powerful antioxidants found in the oil can also help to fight stress associated with aging.
Studies show that following a Mediterranean diet promotes a healthy heart. 7,447 participants between the ages of 55 and 80 were assigned to one of three diets: a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts and a control diet. The researchers showed that the diets supplemented with extra virgin olive oil reduced major cardiovascular events. Spanish researchers also found that arteries in older people can be improved with such a fat like extra virgin olive oil.
Cooking With Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Versatile extra virgin olive oil is perfect for cooking, frying, sauteeing, dressing, baking, and poaching. Olive oil brings delicious Mediterranean flavor to salads, vegetables and much more. Like the Mediterranean cultures, we are just as equally obsessed with this oil in our food. Here are some recipes to give you an idea of how you can cook with it.
1. Tian Garlic Vegetables
A tian is a variety of roasted veggies in a shallow dish. This dish comes from an earthenware cooking pot in Provence, France. Roasting in higher temperatures creates caramelization which then causes the vegetables to get silky in texture and slightly crunchy at the edges. This dish is perfect for multiple dinners throughout the week. We also love this Cream of Roasted Butternut Squash soup as a side dish and this Potato and Mushroom Gratin to make it a full entree.
2. Olive Oil Tamales
The best part about cooking with this oil is that it can be used with virtually any vegan dish. Olive Oil Tamales make for a delicious dinner. Traditional tamales are made with vegetable shortening but this recipe uses extra virgin olive oil instead. The result? A tender masa with plenty of flavors. If you enjoy a more carb heavy dinner opt for Quick Rise Garlic bread, Olive Oil Bread Rolls or Orange Olive Oil Bread with Chocolate for a savory dessert. To add to your extra virgin olive oil obsession, check out 9 Things You Can Do With Olive Oil Beside Eating it and find out how you can Infuse Your Own Olive Oil with Herbs.
Fresh quality extra virgin olive oil can actually look slightly green and smell more grassy than sweet. Luckily, there are plenty of extra virgin olive oil options available online that come in a variety of prices. One of the top favorites on the market is Carapelli’s Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Another favorite is this non-gmo cold-pressed and unrefined Kamen Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Another market obsession has been this gold medal-winning non-gmo O-Live Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
For more extra virgin olive oil-based recipes we highly suggest downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 10,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!