The Many Great Benefits of Olive Oil

Medical experts tell us that all oils are not created equal. Although all of them contain fat, some fats are better for us than others.

Doctors and other health professionals recommend using oils that are low in saturated and trans fats, such as olive oil, canola or other vegetable oils, in place of butter, margarine or shortening.

Here's a quick look at the percentage of saturated fatty acids found at the total fat quantity of various oil types, figures courtesy of Cleveland Clinic:

Coconut Oil: 92 percent
Steak: 62 percent
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: 14 percent
Canola Oil: 7 percent

While canola oil has the lowest percentage of saturated fat, most doctors recommend olive oil instead because it has a higher percentage of monounsaturated fat, that, according to Mayo Clinic preventive medicine specialist Donald Hensrud, M.D., may reduce your total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels.

But, canola oil has almost four times the percentage of polyunsaturated fats containing Omega-3s that studies have shown help prevent heart disease and stroke, so some health professionals say canola oil is a fine choice as well.

Hensrud recommends using olive oil when saut?ing foods and in salad dressings, and canola oil when baking.

Olive Oil FactsOlive oil is best when kept at 57 degrees F or at room temperature of approximately 70 degrees F if kept in a dark area.

Extra virgin olive oil is the best grade olive oil available and is needed to meet more than 20 quality guidelines. No chemicals or intense heat may be used during the oil extraction procedure.

Refrigeration is not recommended for extra virgin olive oil as condensation may change the flavor. Refrigeration is fine for many other grades, but the cold temperature can turn the oil cloudy.

Olive oil is best used within six months to a year of opening the bottle.

When olives are crushed for oil, the pit is normally crushed along with the fruit.

To achieve optimal health, be sure to complement your healthy diet with a regular exercise program.