The world of olive oil is very complex and fascinating. The phrase “olive oil” barely scratches the surface of the varieties and qualities of olive oil across the world. The impact that olive oil can have on your health is surprisingly wide-ranging; all you have to do is learn how to reap these benefits in your own diet!
Olive Oil Types
There are five different grades of olive oil, termed extra virgin oil, virgin oil, refined oil, pure olive oil and olive pomace oil. The grade of a particular olive oil depends on the oil’s “smoke point,” which refers to the temperature at which the oil will start to smoke instead of glisten. This is worth knowing because smoking or burning olive oil will give your food an unpleasant flavor. Fortunately, the oils most frequently used in cooking have a high smoke point. Oils with lower smoke points are typically used for salads and dressings instead.
Olive Oil Nutrition Info
All this excitement about olive oil raises a natural question: what are the numbers for olive oil nutrition facts? It’s all well and good to discuss its uses in cooking, but we should also understand what each bit of olive oil brings to the table. Knowing this nutritional information for household food items will be critical to that diet’s success if you’re either on a diet or planning to start one soon.
How Much Omega-3 Does Extra Virgin Olive Oil Contain?
Let’s start with calories! One tablespoon of olive oil contains 120 calories. The best practice when using olive oil on a salad is to pour 1 tablespoon of the oil for every two cups of salad you’re eating.
The average salad brings around 200 calories in olive oil. The good news is that these calories come from monounsaturated fatty acids, making them some of the healthiest calories you can consume.
How Much Omega-3 Does Extra Virgin Olive Oil Contain?
How about Omega-3? Omega-3 is an anti-inflammatory component that will lower your risk of heart disease and reduce your blood triglyceride levels. This compound is another significant consideration for those on a diet, so we must understand its role in olive oil! The average tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil will contain an 8:1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 acids. This sounds like an oddly balanced ratio, but this combination is ideal for the oil’s effect on your body. This ratio means the olive oil is low in saturated fat and that you’ll experience the greatest benefits of the Omega-3!
Is Olive Oil Gluten-Free?
This is an essential question to ask right now because the number of gluten-free Americans has tripled since 2009. Even if you are not following a gluten-free diet, there’s a good chance that a member of your family or one of your friends is on a gluten-free diet.
The good news is that plain olive oil is gluten-free. However, certain brands and varieties can be cross-contaminated with gluten products, so do an appropriate amount of research before purchasing!
Olive Oil Health Benefits
Olive Oil Hair Benefits
With the nutritional characteristics of olive oil out of the way, we should next discuss the health benefits of olive oil! The first benefit doesn’t come from consuming olive oil as part of your diet but from using it as a hair conditioner!
It sounds odd at first, but the reality is that olive oil has tremendous potential to both soften and strengthen your hair. You can reap olive oil’s hair benefits by taking a few tablespoons of olive oil, massaging it into your hair and scalp and letting your hair soak for about fifteen minutes. After that, comb and then shampoo your hair to get the oil out.
Olive Oil Helps Weight Loss
The second major benefit of olive oil comes from consuming it, and it’s an advantage that everyone taking responsibility for their diet should be aware of. Olive oil can help you lose weight! We’ve already discussed how the Omega-3 fats are healthy for you, but that’s also true of olive oil’s medium-chain triglycerides. Research has indicated that both compounds have potential benefits for weight loss. Olive oil is the perfect healthy addition to pasta, salads, pizza or vegetables when used in limited quantities.
Olive Oil Benefits for Skin
The last but not least health benefit of olive oil is its impact on your skin. The fats, antioxidants and vitamins in olive oil can all increase the health of your skin, which is why a variety of beauty products have added olive oil to their product blends.
Even without one of these elaborate skincare mixtures, you can use extra virgin olive oil to pursue the skin benefits of olive oil! Applying a thin layer to your face before putting on makeup, but after applying lotion will do the trick. The most significant benefits of integrating olive oil into your skincare routine will include anti-inflammation, moisturized skin, reduction of signs of aging and lower risk of acne.
Can Olive Oil Be Substituted for Vegetable Oil?
These health benefits are great for olive oil, but several other kinds of oils should be discussed as well. Comparing the value of olive oil and vegetable oils will help us find the best fit for our personal health needs.
Olive Oil vs. Avocado Oil
How does olive oil stack up against avocado oil? While they are identical in calories, fat and saturated fat, olive oil has a slight edge because it contains 33% of the recommended daily value of Vitamin E.
Olive Oil vs. Coconut Oil
What about olive oil and coconut oil? Although coconut oil can boost your healthy cholesterol levels, it is also likely to increase levels of unhealthy cholesterol.
Overall, olive oil is the safer bet. It has the potential to lower your risk of diabetes and heart disease, and the scientific evidence in olive oil’s favor has been more consistent.
Olive Oil vs. Canola Oil
The last kind of oil we should compare with olive oil is canola oil. If we’re comparing these two based on health benefits, olive oil is again the clear winner. The heart-healthy antioxidants that come with olive oil are hard to beat.
However, this comparison has more to do with cooking techniques for most people. Canola does beat out olive oil when frying food, but they’re on equal footing for cooking with medium heat.
How Can I Cook with Olive Oil?
As you can see, olive oil should be a staple of any healthy diet. The nutritious qualities of olive oil — no matter the variety — can benefit many parts of our overall health, from the skin to the heart. While there are a dizzying variety of olive oils available in the average grocery store, it is important to remember if you’re cooking to go with extra virgin olive oil. This will ensure that you get maximum flavor and an appropriate smoke point. Even better: most olive oils will last between 18 and 24 months before they go bad, so you’ll reap the health benefits of olive oil for a very long time.