Have you heard much about the health benefits of olive oil? How about the increased longevity and decreased chronic illness in those following a traditional Mediterranean diet, which is high in olive oil? A good organic olive oil is certainly medicine for your body, and incorporating this into the diet is something I recommend to my patients.
Let’s look at a few of the reasons you might want to do this to improve your health, how to choose the right olive oil, and a couple of resources for purchasing.
The key to the health benefits of olive oils is the polyphenols. In fact, per the European Union regulation, only oils with polyphenol content over 250 mg/kg may make claims about positive health benefits, but levels can be much higher than this. Aristolea.com maintains a list of oils with phenolic content greater than 500!
Research abounds, and high polyphenol olive oils have been shown to:
decrease oxidative stress on the body
decrease platelet aggregation
improve bone health
improve brain health
improve insulin sensitivity
improve immune system health
reduces many causes of chronic disease
....and many other things!
How and how much?
To get the full health benefits of incorporating high oleic organic extra virgin olive oil [EVOO] into the diet, it’s important to use EVOO as a replacement for a similar amount of other dietary fat. It's also best to use it raw and unheated, as in dressings and pestos, to avoid loss of beneficial nutrients.
Mediterranean diet guidelines recommend around 50 ml daily, or approximately 3 to 4 tablespoons.
High Polyphenol Varietals
While the average olive oil on the shelf at your local supermarket may be better than some of the other alternatives, that isn't the highest quality and most nutritious EVOO available.
To get high phenolic content, look for organic oils made with coratina, cornicabra, koroneiki, moraiolo, and/or picual olives.
Once you've tried these uber healthy and flavorful varietals, you'll never want to go back to the grocery store stuff!
The pepperiness you taste with olive oils is from the antioxidants, which extend the oil’s longevity as well as yours. The different types of polyphenols in EVOO are responsible for the different flavors, of which there are 250!
In order to get a quality product, you need to know about how to purchase and store your oil. Be aware that fake olive oil rings have been identified over the past 40 years. Some have used canola and other low-quality oils mixed with colorings and flavorings to mimic olive oil. It’s important to purchase high-quality oil from a trusted source with third-party testing and transparency.
You’ll want to buy oils stored in glass and not plastic, which contaminates the oil with endocrine-disrupting compounds [EDCs].
I personally recommend storing all oils [other than coconut oil] in the refrigerator to avoid rancidity. After a few days, the olive oil will solidify, but it liquefies after a few minutes at room temperature.
I often keep a small opaque glass jar with an airtight pouring spout on the counter, just to have a few days’ worth ready for cooking, and the larger portions of my olive oils in the fridge.
Where to Purchase
With a little research on your own, you'll find some truly delicious and nutritious organic olive oils that help you maintain good health.
To get you started, here are a couple of websites where you can read more and even purchase EVOO:
How's Your Health?
Are you concerned about your heart and metabolic health? How about maintaining an optimal weight? Do you have a family history of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, or other chronic illness?