Fat is considered the most controversial nutrient among all the macronutrients due to its health risks for human beings. But this so-called “fact” has been rightfully challenged, thanks to nutritional and food sciences that have discovered that not all fats are bad fats. There are fats that are essential for a healthy lifestyle and then there are fats that pose major threats to the physical well being in the long run.
As far as choosing food that provides good fats in abundance, it is difficult to look past extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil extracted using natural methods and free of any additives provides the best composition of healthy fats and other micronutrients.
What is the difference between extra virgin olive oil and regular olive oil?
Before buying olive oil for your daily consumption, it is necessary to know the difference between regular and extra virgin olive oil. You may have come across both sitting side-by-side on a store shelf, and never even bothered to find out the difference. These are two singular products and here’s why:
- Olive oil can only labeled as ‘extra virgin’ if it is not treated with chemicals and high temperatures, and contains no more than 1% of oleic acid.
- Regular olive oil is treated with temperature (it is heated) and other chemicals for refining purposes, and its oleic acid content is also more than extra virgin olive oil.
Remember that the nutritional composition of both types of olive oil varies too. Therefore, insist on buying extra virgin oil for maximum health benefits.
Still not sure why you should choose extra virgin olive oil? These health benefits that you can get from the oil may change your mind.
The Mediterranean diet has been found to reduce heart attacks and strokes by 30%. One of the underlying reasons behind this is the prevalent and excessive use of unrefined olive oil, which is a prominent part of the cuisine of the region.
There are various cardiovascular benefits that can be availed with the use of extra virgin olive oil:
- Research suggests that monounsaturated fats help in improving the endothelial function of the arteries which is necessary for having a healthy cardiovascular system. Extra virgin olive oil contains more than 70% monounsaturated fats, thus its inclusion in your daily diet will strengthen your arteries like nothing else.
- Olive oil helps in improving the LDL and HDL cholesterol balance in the body. Daily consumption of extra virgin olive oil also helps in reducing levels of triglycerides which are considered to be unhealthy fats.
- People with the problem of chronic high blood pressure can maintain their systolic and diastolic blood pressure with olive oil.
Prevention of cancer
Due to its rich antioxidant qualities, extra virgin oil can prevent the onset of cancer by reducing the oxidative damage in the body due to free radicals. With decreased free radical activity, a person becomes more resistant to the growth of cancerous tumors.
Provides relief from pain
Extra virgin olive oil contains a natural phenolic compound which acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and provides relief for inflammation. Medicinal research has proved that inflammation is the root cause of many chronic diseases.
Feeling less satiated is one of the major reasons behind obesity in many people. People binge eat because they just can’t get that feeling of being full. Extra virgin olive oil is composed of healthy fats that don’t only fulfill the daily requirement of fats, but also makes you feel satiated. When that happens, you eat less, experience less cravings, and don’t gain extra weight.
Prevention of Alzheimer’s disease
As far as neurodegenerative diseases are concerned, Alzheimer’s tops the list. It is one of the leading causes of dementia in the human population. Dementia causes a steep decline in mental abilities to the point where it becomes difficult for the person to function normally. Oleocanthal, a chemical found in extra virgin olive oil, improves brain function and arrests the declines of mental abilities with the aging process.
While we’ve focused largely on healthy fats in this article, virgin olive oil also contain adequate amounts of vitamins and trace minerals that are essential for many body functions. Introducing virgin olive oil in your diet can prompt a positive and healthy change in your lifestyle without compromising on the intake of fat.