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Extra Virgin Olive oil - Benefits, uses & effects

Known for its rich flavor, versatility, and health benefits, extra virgin olive oil is an excellent ingredient to keep in your kitchen cupboard.

Not only is it easy to use for roasting, frying, baking, or sautéing, but it’s also jam-packed with antioxidants and heart-healthy fats.

Plus, it’s been studied extensively for its many health benefits, with some research suggesting that it could protect against heart disease, combat cancer, and alleviate inflammation.

This article takes a closer look at the potential benefits, downsides, and uses of extra virgin olive oil, along with how it stacks up against other common cooking oils.

Extra Virgin Olive oil - Benefits, uses & effects - AEQUA

Nutrient composition of extra virgin olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil is rich in heart-healthy fats, along with vitamins E and K.

A tablespoon (about 14 grams) of olive oil contains the following nutrients - source:

  • Calories: 119

  • Saturated fat: 14% of total calories

  • Monounsaturated fat: 73% of total calories (mostly oleic acid)

  • Polyunsaturated fat (PUFA): 11% of total calories

  • Vitamin E: 13% of the Daily Value (DV)

  • Vitamin K: 7% of the DV

Extra virgin olive oil is a great source of antioxidants, which are compounds that help fight inflammation and chronic disease - source.

The oil’s main antioxidants include the anti-inflammatory oleocanthal, as well as oleuropein, a substance that protects LDL (bad) cholesterol from oxidation - source.

Some people have criticized olive oil for having a high omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. However, its total amount of polyunsaturated fats is still relatively low, so you probably don’t need to worry - source.

What are the benefits of Extra Virgin Olive oil?

Extra Virgin Olive oil has traditionally been used for a variety of purposes, including:

  • Contains anti-inflammatory substances

  • Protects against heart disease via numerous mechanisms - Reduces oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, Improves blood vessel health, Helps manage blood clotting & Lowers blood pressure.

  • Oleic acid, in particular, is also highly resistant to oxidation and has been shown to slow the growth and spread of cancer cells in some test-tube studies.

  • Olive oil seems to be very safe, even for cooking at moderate temperatures

Like many essential oils, researchers have been working to evaluate the potential health benefits of Extra Virgin Olive oil and its components.

FAQs on Extra Virgin Olive oil!

Is it OK to cook with extra virgin olive oil?

Olive oil is made of mostly monounsaturated fats, which are resistant to moderate heat - source.

It also has a fairly high smoke point, making it a good choice for many cooking methods, including roasting, grilling, baking, and sautéing - link.

Can you substitute extra virgin olive oil for other oils in cooking?

For most recipes, you can easily swap an equal amount of extra virgin olive oil for other types of oils, including vegetable oil, coconut oil, or canola oil.

However, keep in mind that extra virgin olive oil often has a distinct taste and aroma, so it may slightly alter the flavor of your final product.

Is extra virgin olive oil healthy?

Extra virgin olive oil is loaded with heart-healthy fats and antioxidants, making it a great addition to a nutritious diet - source.

It has also been linked to a long list of benefits and may protect against inflammation, heart disease, breast cancer, and type 2 diabetes - source.

Can olive oil reduce belly fat?

Several studies have found that diets enriched with olive oil may be beneficial for weight management and could even help reduce body fat - source.

Still, although olive oil may help promote weight control, it’s important to keep in mind that oil is high in calories.

For this reason, it’s best to swap it in for other fats in your diet and keep your intake in moderation to maximize the potential benefits.

Can I use extra virgin olive oil on my face?

Olive oil is often used as a natural skin care product. It can be applied directly to the face, either alone or combined with other ingredients like honey or egg yolks.

In addition to moisturizing your skin, some research suggests that olive oil could reduce inflammation, promote wound healing, and slow skin aging - source.

However, be sure to wipe off any excess oil to prevent blocked pores, and always do a patch test before applying anything directly to your face.

Are there any side effects?

Like other types of fat, extra virgin olive oil is high in calories, with around 119 calories in each tablespoon (14 g) - source.

Eating more calories than you burn each day contributes to weight gain over time - source.

Therefore, if you’re not making other adjustments to your diet, consuming high amounts of olive oil could make it more challenging to maintain a moderate weight.

Additionally, although uncommon, some people may also be allergic to olives and olive oil. If you experience symptoms of an allergic reaction after consuming olive oil, stop using it and speak with a healthcare professional - source.

The bottom line!

Not only is extra virgin olive oil loaded with heart-healthy fats, but it’s also a great source of antioxidant compounds, like vitamin E, oleacein, and oleocanthal.

It has been associated with a wide range of powerful health benefits and may help prevent heart disease, promote brain function, and protect against certain types of cancer.

Plus, it’s incredibly versatile and makes a great addition to a variety of recipes, ranging from baked goods to stir-fries, sautéed veggies, salad dressings, and more.

Always talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns before using Extra Virgin Olive oil.

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