Health Benefits

Health Benefits of Olive Oil – That Ol’ Mediterranean Diet!

Olive oil, scientific studies suggest, might be one of the primary reasons for which people of the Mediterranean have about 50% fewer incidences of cancer than those of the United States. That alone is enough to get anybody’s attention!

Olive oil helps the body assimilate vitamins A, D, and K. It contains essential acids that cannot be produced by our own bodies. Olive oil is a liquid fountain of youth, slowing down the aging process. It benefits a body’s liver, regulates bowel movements, and helps maintain a healthy sex drive. (Some say olive oil is an aphrodisiac!). Moreover, science has proven that the circulatory system is stimulated by a diet that includes olive oil.

Olive oil is about 75% monounsaturated fat. But, knowing that olive oil is about 75% monounsaturated fat, isn’t it true that fats are bad for the body?

Actually, our bodies need fat, and, 30% of all of our daily diet should come from fat. It’s hard to accept this, as we’ve been bombarded by the idea that fat is bad. We need, though, to discern between “good” fats and “bad” fats. The difference between the two is magnanimous.

When we are eating “fats” in our diet, we want to eat unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are the good guys. They are fats found in avocados, olive oil, fish, and other natural substances. Tom Venuto, a weight trainer and author of Burn the Fat, says

Adding the right kind of fats can increase your energy, increase fat burning, increase muscle-building hormones, increase your strength, improve insulin function, improve your skin texture and strengthen your joints (Venuto, 2003: 156).

Saturated fats, on the other hand, are the fats we want to avoid. Foods like donuts, cakes, potato chips, French fries, fried foods, fast foods etc. are some of the worst things we can put in our bodies. These fats, as opposed to the good guys, clog our arteries, raise our cholesterol, can be carcinogenic, and make us fat! 

In short, good, unsaturated fats and oils are essential to healthy living. They do everything from help stimulate appetite to assist the digestive process. Olive oil is not only tasty but also a GREAT way to get the daily fats you need in a healthy, flavorful way!

Cooking with olive oil

Olive Oil isn’t just for salad dressings! In Andalucia, Southern Spain, olive oil is used on toast for a good morning meal. In Catalonia, cut a tomato in half and squeeze it on bread, add olive oil, cheese, and sliced ham for a delicious meal. The olive oil and tomato make a perfect condiment! Who needs mayonnaise and mustard?

Also, olive oil is ideal for sautéing veggies and meats. Use it instead of butter or other kinds of vegetable oils that are higher in cholesterol.

For pastas, use olive oil with a touch of shredded parmesan cheese – light and healthy, not to mention loaded with flavor.

Olive oil is perfect for baking fish, putting on baked potatoes, dipping breads, and making an array of salad dressings. The uses of olive oil are endless and once you get used to cooking with olive oil, you’ll never turn back. It’s flavorful, healthy, and the best way to treat your body and palette to something special!

Healthy Substitution Chart (download)
Butter / Margarine Olive Oil
1 teaspoon 3/4 teaspoon
1 tablespoon 2 1/4 teaspoons
1/4 cup 3 tablespoons
1/3 cup 1/4 cup
1/2 cup 1/4 cup + 2 tbls
2/3 cup 1/2 cup
3/4 cup 1/2 cup + 1 tbls
1 cup 3/4 cup