EVOO, also known as extra virgin olive oil, is a staple in kitchens across the globe. Not only is it a wonderful cooking oil, its versatility makes it a top ingredient in dishes from appetizers and desserts, to dressings and dips—and everything in between. On top of this, EVOO is chock full of health benefits—including high levels of antioxidants and healthy fats. Let’s break down the classification of fats out there and discover the amazing benefits of olive oil fats.
Trans fats are man-made fats that are the most unhealthy of all fats. Trans fats are highly processed, and they are created when hydrogen molecules are added to natural liquid vegetable oils to produce a solid oil. They are labeled as “Partially hydrogenated oils” on packaging ingredient lists. Trans fats have been known to cause many health issues, including cancer, obesity, heart disease, stroke, and other serious complications.
Saturated fats are not as bad for our health as trans fats, but they often increase bad cholesterol levels, which can cause problems down the road. These fats are fairly common, and are found in foods like red meat, coconut oil, and dairy products including milk, cheese and butter. Saturated fats can be eaten in moderation (about 10% of daily caloric intake) without any cause for concern.
These good fats are important to consume for a healthy lifestyle. Within the family of unsaturated fats, there are two types of fats: monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. Let’s take a look at both.
- Monounsaturated Fat—EVOO is comprised of mostly monounsaturated fat. This is one of the best, most healthiest fats for the human body. It helps decrease levels of bad cholesterol and increase levels of good cholesterol. It also helps break down plaque in the arteries, making it an excellent oil for cardiovascular health. In addition to these benefits, it also helps the body balance blood sugar levels, which is helpful for those with obesity, diabetes, PCOS, and other conditions related to metabolic health.
- Polyunsaturated Fat—These fats are essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6. Our bodies do not naturally produce these fatty acids, so in order to reap the benefits, we need to consume foods containing them. Polyunsaturated fats have all of the same health benefits as monounsaturated fats.