By Alysia Santo
Olive oil packs some calories, but it more than makes up for that in benefits. Just as a car needs lubricant to run smoothly, the body needs fat – the right kind of fat, of course — and olive oil is one of the best sources.
Its versatility makes it perfect for cancer patients looking for ways to replace butter and other types of oils that are high in saturated fat. Olive oil contains monounsaturated fats, which increase levels of the “healthy” cholesterol, HDL, which helps clean out your arteries.
Olive oil contains over 30 plant compounds. Lab studies have shown that these compounds increase enzymes that both block carcinogens and remove them from the body. Some findings indicate that olive oil’s compounds seem to slow the growth and proliferation of cancer cells. This may explain the results of some research which showed that olive oil is associated with reduced risk of breast cancer. The results of these studies are consistent with what has been studied through research on the populations that consume Mediterranean-style diets, rich in olive oil.
Stick with extra virgin olive oil, the product of the first pressing of olives, because these retain the highest levels of nutrients. When storing olive oil, keep it in a closed pantry, since sunlight and heat can speed up spoilage. If buying in larger quantities, keep a small container of olive oil at room temperature and store the rest in the fridge.
Pour some good oil over a salad with a squeeze of fresh lemon and some salt and pepper for a delicious and healthy alternative to store bought salad dressing. Olive oil and a chopped garlic clove are a great dressing for whole-wheat pasta. Put out a small cup of olive oil with some herbs or balsamic vinegar for dipping bread into. Try using it in our Rosemary Scented Olive Scones. Olive oil is also great for cooking a stir-fry or anything else that requires coating a pan. But do not heat olive oil to the smoking point. It loses all of its benefits, and can even become toxic. If you accidentally over heat olive oil toss it out, clean the pan, and start again.