Olive oil has a number of health benefits and is high in monounsaturated fats, which help keep blood pressure low and protect your heart from heart disease and heart attacks. Olive oil also has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which reduce the symptoms of inflammatory diseases like asthma and arthritis, as well as preventing cancer and slowing the signs of aging. Here are some tips to help you add olive oil to your diet, so that you can enjoy these health benefits for yourself.
1) Substitution is the Name of the Game
You don’t want to start indiscriminately adding fat to your diet, because fats, whether healthy or unhealthy, are still fats, and if you eat too much of them, you’ll eventually get fat. Add olive oil to your diet safely by using it as a substitute for butter, margarine, vegetable oil and other cooking oils that contain large amounts of saturated fats. Increase olive oil consumption while decreasing your consumption of red meat, diary and other foods that contain large amounts of saturated fats. Make sure that the fats in your diet are mostly healthy monounsaturated fats (found in olive oil) and polyunsaturated fats; keep unhealthy saturated and trans fats to a minimum.
You can substitute olive oil for butter and margarine on a 3 to 4 ratio. So, if you’d normally use one cup of margarine or butter in a recipe, use 3/4 cup of olive oil instead. Use olive for frying and brush it onto meats before cooking, instead of butter. Most people use virgin or light olive oil (made from the second and third pressing of the olives) for baking and frying since they stand up well to heat, don’t have a strong olive flavor, and are cheaper than extra virgin olive oil, which is the highest quality available.
2) Use Olive Oil on Bread Instead of Butter
Olive oil makes a tasty dipping sauce for freshly baked whole grain bread. You can mix your favorite spices, such as pepper and basil, into the olive oil, and some people prefer adding balsamic or raspberry vinegar as well. Use extra virgin olive oil for this purpose; it’s made from the first pressing of the olives and it has the strongest olive flavor. It also has the highest concentration of antioxidants, polyphenols and phytonutrients, so it will offer the most health benefits. The deeper and darker the color of the olive oil, the stronger the olive flavor.
3) Add Olive Oil to Salad Dressings
Many people use olive oil as a base for vinaigrette salad dressings, which can be made with mustard, salt, sugar, pepper and other spices, and balsalmic or raspberry vinegar. Vinaigrette makes a healthy dressing for salads.
You can also use olive oil to make homemade mayonnaise. Use two egg yolks, three tablespoons of lemon juice and one cup of olive oil. Season your mayonnaise to taste with salt and pepper.