If you want to add healthy fats to your diet, you may consider consuming a moderate amount of olive oil each day. Although olive oil is rich in heart-healthy nutrients, you should not use exorbitant amounts of the food. Olive oil is high in calories and can undermine your weight-loss or weight-maintenance efforts if used in excess.
Olive oil is derived from olives during processing of the food. Olive oil can be consumed plain or added to salads, pastas, fish and vegetables. Olive oil is rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, which have been associated with a reduced risk of heart attack and stroke. Keep olive oil stored in the refrigerator or a dark room-temperature cupboard to hold onto the fats and nutrients for up to six months.
Olive oil helps keep your heart healthy by reducing blood cholesterol levels. High cholesterol levels harden the arteries and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. According to MayoClinic.com, additional benefits of foods high in monounsaturated fatty acids may help normalize blood sugar levels and help with blood clotting. Diabetics and individuals with clotting disorders may benefit from the inclusion of olive oil in their diets.
Choose “extra virgin” and “cold pressed” varieties of olive oil. These have gone through the least amount of processing and have higher nutrient levels. The particle in olive oil called the DHPEA-EDA has been determined to provide the most protection for red blood cells. Virgin varieties have higher amounts of this particle, according to a 2009 study appearing in “Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.”
Keep the amount of olive oil in your diet relatively low. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 1 tbsp. of olive oil contains 119 calories and 13 g of fat. You should not add olive oil to foods for health reasons. Instead replace saturated fat sources, such as butter and margarine with olive oil.