Unless you're still getting your nutrition advice from the best selling fad diet books of the'80s and'90s, you are probably clued in about the fact that fats play an important role in a healthy diet.
It's a major reason olive oil is so treasured by healthy eating experts. Not only is olive oil full of monounsaturated fatty acids, it's also a fantastic source of antioxidants and is linked to lowering inflammation. It's also great for your heart, and research published earlier this year at the Journal of the American College of Cardiology proves that it truly doesn't take much to benefit from it.
The study looked at health and dietary data from over 90,000 adults over the span of 24 years, with checkins each four years. During the study period, there have been almost 10,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease (like strokes and coronary heart disease). After adjusting for diet and lifestyle variables, the researchers found that individuals who consumed more olive oil had a 14 percent lower risk for heart disease compared with people who used no olive oil.
Additionally, those who consumed at least five grams of olive oil each day (that Harvard Health equates to a half tablespoon) instead of butter, margarine, or mayonnaise had a 5 to 7 percent reduced risk of total cardiovascular disease or coronary heart disease.
Though you may already use olive oil into top off a salad or roasted veggies, then it has many more potential uses in your kitchen, especially as an easy swap (in many cases) for butter.
Butter isn't inherently unhealthy, but it is high in saturated fats and low in the unsaturated fatty acids found in olive oil, and that means that it is best used in moderation.
Not all fats are created equally. Research has shown that replacing unhealthy saturated or trans fats with healthy monounsaturated fatty acids can reduce both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, which brings down your risk for heart disease.
While sometimes you just want to slather a slice of banana nut bread with butter and nothing else will do, there are times when switching it out for olive oil won't just be just as tasty but more healthy.
Cooking Veggies and Olive Oil
You are aware that belief that olive oil can't withstand a higher heat? Now that's a total myth. We specifically choose light or pure olive oils, which are assume to have higher smoke points than extra virgin varieties due to their additional refining.
(But, there is some evidence that the very low smoke stage reputation of olive oil is actually a myth, and that it can withstand higher cooking temperatures without affecting taste or color of food) This means you can use olive oil for way more than just a finishing oil.
Baked Goods and Olive Oil
Olive oil can be a healthy sub for canola oil or butter in virtually any baked good. In addition, it provides a wonderful fruity flavor that can add a layer of sweetness.
Adding Extra Flavor to Grilled Fruit with Olive Oil
Even though it's common to use olive oil on top of veggies, for some reason many don't believe to add it on top of fruit.
Infuse Olive Oil With your Favorite Herbs
Infusing your olive oil with healthy herbs, can keep them on hand to use as needed, like as dipping oil for warm, crusty bread
Once again, it doesn't take much olive oil to benefit from its heart-healthy powers, so small swaps like these really go a very long way.