Even though it is a fat, olive oil is an essential part of a healthy diet. The top-rated diet for heart health and longevity, the Mediterranean diet, features olive oil as a main source of fat. The secret to olive oil’s healthy benefits are the substances it contains, including fat molecules and nutrients.
The Right Fat for Your Health
The majority of the fat in olive oil is oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid. This healthy fat can have a variety of proven benefits.
- Studies show that monounsaturated fatty acids help lower total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) protein, the “bad” form of cholesterol that is associated with cardiovascular problems.
- Some studies suggest that olive oil helps maintain healthy blood sugar and insulin levels, lowering your risk of blood sugar issues.
- A study of 841,000 people found olive oil consumption was related to a lower risk of unhealthy cardiovascular conditions.
Saturated Fats in a Supporting Role
Olive oil contains a small amount of saturated fats, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Studies show these fats may also have health benefits, such as:
- Healthier blood pressure
- Lower levels of triglycerides (fats) in your blood
- Better brain development in babies when pregnant women consume omega-3 fats
- Improved skin and hair growth
Olive oil also contains small amounts of Vitamin E, an antioxidant, and Vitamin K. These nutrients can also help with healthy cholesterol levels and inflammation response throughout your body. Inflammation in the body is increasingly being linked to a higher risk of serious diseases. Healthy inflammation response can also support healthy joints and digestive system, though more research is needed in these areas.
Choose the Right Olive Oil for Your Diet
Extra virgin olive oil is the only type that contains all of the nutrients and healthy fatty acids listed above. Choose a high-quality oil that is freshly harvested; the more recently, the better, as olive oil can go rancid. You may want to choose U.S. olive oils to ensure freshness.
Though it has many health benefits, olive oil is still high in calories and can cause weight gain when used too much. It’s good, though, to use it in place of butter, margarine or other oils to reap the great benefits of its monounsaturated fats and antioxidants.
Enzyme products, such as Enzymedica’s Lypo Gold™, can help support healthy digestion of all fats, saturated and unsaturated alike. This supplement provides additional digestive support, so you can enjoy foods you love.
For more ideas on a healthy lifestyle, like us on Facebook!