Olive oil: Liquid gold for your kitchen

Categories: NUTRITIONPublished On: March 15th, 2024

Olive oil has developed a cultlike following in recent years, with proponents touting benefits ranging from body fat reduction to heart disease prevention. Considering is not a panacea, olive oil isn’t getting the press it deserves, in the anglo-saxon culture.

Olive oil is a staple fat in the Mediterranean diet, and its previously publicized benefits have largely relied on examining its use by European populations as Spain, Greece, Italy, Malta, Cyprus and Portugal.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that replacing margarine, butter, or mayonnaise with olive oil was associated with reduced cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. Consuming olive oil was also associated with a decreased likelihood of dying from CVD. Even slight increases in olive oil consumption, like replacing roughly a teaspoon of margarine or butter each day with a similar amount of olive oil, had advantages.

Olive oil has been also correlated with a reduction in inflammatory compounds that may contribute to the progression of CVD. Olives contain plant chemicals called polyphenols that may help reduce inflammation. Using virgin olive oil, which is extracted through mechanical rather than chemical means, is thought to offer higher levels of protective plant compounds than refined olive oils. Extra virgin olive oil is a product of the preferred, mechanical processing.

Though we need more research, these polyphenols may also extend benefits to other areas of the body, like the brain. For instance, along with other healthy diet habits like eating leafy greens, primarily using olive oil when cooking has been associated with combating the decline in brain fuction that happens as we age.