Why Olive Oil Is a Healthier Choice

We have all heard how saturated and trans fats such as butter, animal fats, partially hydrogenated oils, as well as tropical oils can increase your risk for various heart diseases. The reason for this is how it increases your total cholesterol, including LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol levels. Let’s take a look how this works.

Trans fat is the worst type you can consume. It’s mostly manufactured in a process forcing hydrogen into polyunsaturated fats. This hydrogenation process creates a solid fat product, such as margarine. It also gives foods containing trans fats a longer shelf life and stabilizes flavors.

Saturated fat is an unhealthy choice as the body turns it into ‘bad’ or LDL cholesterol. This type of fat clogs arteries and is harmful for your heart. Saturated fat is most commonly found in animal products, such as the white fat along the edge of a piece of meat. It can also be found in the skin of poultry, and hidden in whole milk, tropical oils and products made containing these products.

Polyunsaturated fat is moderately healthy. It can lower LDL levels, but is also known for reducing the levels of ‘good’ cholesterol or HDL. This fat is usually liquid at room temperature. Popular variations are soybean, safflower, corn and several other vegetable oils.

Monounsaturated fat such as olive oil is by far a healthier choice. This type can lower your risk of heart disease by reducing the total and LDL cholesterol levels in your blood.

Extra-virgin olive oil is produced from the first pressing of olives. It’s light tasting and contains the most complete array of antioxidants. The second pressing of olives produces fine virgin oil. This is still a good choice; however, extra-virgin oil is primarily recommended. Look for the words “cold pressed” on the bottle of olive oil you are choosing. Remember, heat destroys antioxidants, so cold pressed is best.

Additional health benefits of olive oil are being discovered at a rapid rate. Below you will find a few of the positive reasons for switching to olive oil in your diet.

Atherosclerosis, also know as hardening of the arteries, occurs when particles of LDL cholesterol adhere themselves to the walls of the arteries. Eventually, these particles build up until they form plaque. This results in narrowing of blood vessels, as well as increasing the work load of the heart. This creates more work to get oxygenated blood to the entire body. Unfortunately, the result of this can be heart attack or stroke.

Scientists have identified a compound in olive oil called oleuropein. This compound prevents the LDL cholesterol from oxidizing, and subsequently sticking to the walls of the arteries and forming plaque. With a simple replacement of the fats in your diet with olive oil, you can significantly reduce this risk.

Anti-inflammatory properties are naturally produced by the body using the healthy fats in olive oil. Cell membranes which aren’t inflamed are more fluid, thus better able to move nutrients into the cells as it moves waste products out of the system. It has been found that lower incidences of osteoporosis as well as dementia have been noted in cases where people consume larger quantities of olive oil.

The cancer-related benefits from olive oil are still under research. However, preliminary results have shown olive oil may play its part in the fight against cancer. Many professionals believe it can lower the risk of colon, prostate and breast cancers.

For diabetes, further research is taking place as to the benefit of olive oil towards maintaining blood sugar levels. One way patients can do this is by eating a diet low in carbohydrates. However, a possible link has been found with high levels of monounsaturated fats. This could mean olive oil may be even more effective for diabetics.

When you make the decision to switch to olive oil instead of other choices, you may be surprised at the price difference. However, the benefits to your health are well worth the extra money. Olive oil is one to add to that list.