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. But there is still one major problem with olive oil… it isn’t always what you think it is. Some lower quality versions can be extracted using chemicals, or even diluted with other cheaper oils. Therefore, buying the right type of olive oil is incredibly important.
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. Then we have regular, refined or “light” olive oils, which have often been extracted with solvents, treated with heat or even diluted with cheaper oils like soybean and canola oils.
For this reason, the only type I recommend is extra virgin olive oil.
Written by Kris Gunnars, BSc JUNE 2017