Food fads come and go, but there’s some that never change. Olive oil is one of them.
It’s been used to cook and dip almost everything and anything for hundreds of years and is one of the staple items in the popular Mediterranean Diet. But why? What is it about extra virgin olive oil that keeps us poppin’ bottles of it every year?
Here are 5 extra virgin olive oil nutrition facts that will have you believing the hype about one of the healthiest fats out there.
1. Simply Made and Naturally Processed
While all olive oils are made from extracting the oil from the olive through various means, different classifications of olive oil have different processing requirements. Some oils are extracted directly while others are heavily chemically processed and mass produced in bulk.
The highest grade, extra virgin olive oil, is extracted using natural methods exclusively and is the least processed of olive oil types. This means it retains the maximum amount of nutritional value possible.
To maintain this standard, extra virgin olive oil is inspected and certified for quality by the California Olive Oil Council (COOC) in America and the DOP in Italy.
2. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is High in Vitamins
Partially because of its method of extraction, extra virgin olive oil contains large amounts of essential vitamins and antioxidants.
One tablespoon alone of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) will provide 7% of the recommended daily value of vitamin K and a whopping 13% of the daily value of vitamin E.
With the usual serving of EVOO ranging between 2 and 4 tablespoons per day, that puts you well on your way to maximizing your vitamin intake while still eating deliciously.
3. Low in Fats and Low in Calories
EVOO is known for being a “good” fat in the sense of heart health and cholesterol. Per tablespoon, EVOO contains only 14% of the unhealthy saturated fat, with the remainder being monounsaturated fat which can be heart healthy rather than heart damaging.
It’s also remarkably low in calories at only 126 calories per tablespoon while still being healthy and naturally produced compared to commercial margarines that sit around 102 calories but are high in saturated fats, salts, preservatives, and chemicals.
4. It’s Heart Healthy!
Extra virgin olive oil has been found to be a great option for people looking to be more heart healthy. With its application in the Mediterranean Diet, studies have shown risks of cardiovascular issues including heart attacks and strokes to drop by around 30%.
Other observed benefits of EVOO on heart health have included the lowering of bad cholesterol that leads to arterial clotting, improving blood vessel health, lowering blood pressure, and reducing inflammation, putting this fat leaps and bounds over the other options you could use in your diet.
5. It Can Potentially Lower the Risk of Alzheimer’s
Alzheimers is an all too common degenerative brain disease found around the world. One of the known symptoms is a buildup of specific types of proteins called beta-amyloid plaques in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients.
Interestingly, according to a study done on several mice, there is the potential for some of the enzymes in EVOO to help clear those plaques in the brain. This is in addition to a controlled study in people that showed a diet including olive oil improved brain function and reduced the risk of cognitive impairment overall.
A Heart Healthy, Simple Snack
Snacking with EVOO is possibly the easiest thing on earth. I personally enjoy making a little dip with my EVOO to have with some bread and wine when I want an easy, filling snack with little effort.
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp organic balsamic vinaigrette
- dried oregano to taste
- your favorite fresh Italian bread
All you have to do is mix the olive oil and the balsamic in a small bowl or dipping sauce plate (they won’t fully blend together), and sprinkle the oregano on top.
Take the bread, piping hot in a perfect world or gently oven-heated, and swirl it around to coat it in the good stuff.
Enjoy guilt-free snacking!
Want to share your favorite olive oil recipe? Drop us a note in the comments below!