Myths and Facts: Olive Oil

Olive oil is such a common household item that many people take it for granted. It’s fairly inexpensive, readily available and possesses certain properties that make it useful in a variety of ways. Yet, despite its prevalence, there are some things about olive oil that people might not know about, or might be confused about.

Olive Oil Background

Olive oil is made from olives, which is a fruit grown in the Mediterranean region. That region is by far the largest producer of olive oil. Olive oil itself is made by crushing selected olives and extracting the resulting oil. Depending on the quality of oil produced, it can be used in various capacities, from lamp oil to moisturizers to cooking oil.

Olive oil is available at any supermarket under a variety of labels with different ratings. Before choosing your next bottle, read about the following common myths about olive oil.

Myth: All Olive Oil Is the Same

Fact: The quality and therefore nutritional potency of olive oil varies according to the olives used and the method of creation. If the oil is taken after mechanical pressing alone and results in a high quality yield, it is referred to as extra virgin olive oil. This has the highest antioxidant content and lowest acidity of any other olive oil. It is the least processed of olive oils and is considered to have the best and strongest flavor.

Myth: Olive Oil Consumption Increases Levels of Bad Cholesterol

Fact: Surprisingly, olive oil consumption is actually linked to lower levels of bad LDL cholesterol. Even as little as two tablespoons of olive oil consumed daily for one week has shown to reduce oxidation of LDL cholesterol. It’s a healthy and delicious way to reduce bad cholesterol.

Myth: Olive Oil Contains High Levels of Unhealthy Fat

Fact: It is true that olive oil contains high levels of fat. But, the kind of fat we’re talking about here is monounsaturated fat, specifically oleic acid. Evidence suggests that increased consumption of monounsaturated fat leads to reduced risk of coronary heart disease. This claim can only be true if you are in fact substituting olive oil for the unhealthy saturated fats in your diet.

Myth: Olive Oil Can Only Be Used for Cooking

Fact: Olive oil is the main cooking oil of the Mediterranean region. It can almost always be used as a substitute for vegetable oil. Need healthier oil for frying eggs or meat? Olive oil is more than up for the task. Aside from culinary uses, olive oil also makes an excellent moisturizer. Read the label on your soap or shampoo and you may be surprised to find olive oil listed.

Myth: Olive Oil Does Not Contain Any Vitamins or Minerals

Fact: Since olive oil derives from olives, it retains the benefits that olives offer. It is high in iron, vitamin E and vitamin K. It also has high levels of phenols, which provide benefits to the cardiovascular system. Extra virgin olive oil is the most beneficial of the bunch, having the highest monounsaturated fat and vitamin E levels.

After clearing up these myths with the facts, it’s now easier than ever to include olive oil in your diet.

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