Why olive oil?
How about a big colorful salad of mixed lettuces and greens with a diced avocado and a few other in-season picks? Then add a couple of sliced hard-boiled eggs, a can of fish, a few pieces of cut-up roasted chicken, or any other protein for that matter. And for the homemade vinaigrette, use extra-virgin olive oil only. Did you know “that we cannot absorb some of the most important nutrients in salad greens unless the dressing or the meal it’s eaten with contains some type of fat”? To this statement, Jo Robinson, author of Eating on the Wild Side, adds that according to a 2012 study, olive oil turns out to be the best oil to use in order to get those nutrients.
The composition of olive oil
We usually consider olive oil to be a monounsaturated fat because it contains 77% monounsaturated fatty acids, but it also has 13.5% saturated fatty acids, and 8.4% polyunsaturated fatty acids. The book Superfuel emphasizes that “[o]live oil, particularly high-quality extra virgin olive oil, contains oleic acid and polyphenol, which can dramatically reduce the susceptibility of LDL to oxidation and promote healthy lipid content.” So the higher the polyphenol content, the better. And a recent Ben Greenfield podcast highlights the fact that oleic acid, as well as DHA found in fish/fish oil, are the two fats most beneficial to the brain. Furthermore, Fat for Fuel, by Dr. Joseph Mercola, lists the following health benefits regarding olive oil:
- Antioxidant powerhouse
- Heart protection
- Anticancer activity
- Anti-aging benefits
- Bone health
How to shop for olive oil
Shopping for olive oil requires a bit of vigilance as “[e]ven ‘extra-virgin’ olive oil is often diluted with other less expensive oils, including hazelnut, soybean, corn, sunflower, palm, sesame, grape seed and/or walnut. These added oils will not be listed on the label, so most people will not be able to discern that their olive oil is not 100 percent pure,” state Dr. James DiNicolantonio and Dr. Joseph Mercola in Superfuel. The “use by” or “sell by” date for olive oil is not the best indicator of freshness. It’s the “harvest” date” or “pressed on” date that is to look for on a bottle, and it should be under six months old. In the same way, you want to consume olive oil within six months. Also, it is best to only buy “extra-virgin” olive oil because when the label mentions “pure” or “light” oil, “olive oil” or “olive pomace oil,” this means that the oil has gone through “chemical processing.” I like to use the unfiltered Bragg organic extra virgin olive oil.
How to use olive oil
As olive oil is sensitive to air, light, and heat, you want to keep your bottle(s) in a cool area away from light and right away put the cap back on the bottle after each use to minimize oxidation of the oil. If you have a high-quality extra-virgin olive oil with a high polyphenol content, it can be used for cooking at moderate temperatures. Otherwise, it is best to use olive oil for dressings and to drizzle over your food, as mentioned in my article about The Primal Blueprint Food Pyramid. If the olive oil tastes rancid, has a fusty, moldy, wine, or vinegar flavor, you should discard it. These are the basics to know about olive oil. As a final note, I would highly recommend the above podcast which goes further into details about What Olive Oil Should Taste Like, The Scary Truth About Olive Oil, Can You Cook With Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Much More! To your daily dose of olive oil!
Dinicolantonio, James, and Joseph Mercola. Superfuel : Ketogenic Keys to Unlock the Secrets of Good Fats, Bad Fats, and Great Health. Carlsbad, California, Hay House Inc, 2018, pp. 88-93.
“Extra Virgin Olive Oil: What It Should Taste Like & What To Look Out For.” Ben Greenfield Fitness – Diet, Fat Loss and Performance Advice, 8 Feb. 2020, bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/nutrition-podcasts/extra-virgin-olive-oil/. Accessed 15 Feb. 2020.
Mercola, Joseph. Fat for Fuel : A Revolutionary Diet to Combat Cancer, Boost Brain Power, and Increase Your Energy. Carlsbad, California, Hay House, Inc, 2017, pp. 90–92.
Robinson, Jo, and Andie Styner. Eating on the Wild Side the Missing Link to Optimum Health. New York Little, Brown, 2013, pp. 37-38.
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