The Benefits of Olive Oil

Medical experts tell us that all oils are not created equal. Although all of them contain fat, some fats are better for us than others.

Doctors and other health professionals recommend using oils that are low in saturated and trans fats, such as olive oil, canola or other vegetable oils, in place of butter, margarine or shortening.

Here's a quick look at the percentage of saturated fatty acids found in the total fat volume of various oil types, figures courtesy of Cleveland Clinic:

  • Coconut Oil: 92 percent
  • Butter: 62 percent
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: 14 percent
  • Canola Oil: 7 percent

While canola oil has the lowest percentage of saturated fat, most doctors recommend olive oil instead because it has a higher percentage of monounsaturated fat, that, according to Mayo Clinic preventive medicine specialist Donald Hensrud, M.D., may lower your total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels.

However, canola oil has almost four times the percentage of polyunsaturated fats containing Omega-3s that studies have shown help prevent heart disease and stroke, so some health professionals say canola oil is a fine choice as well.

Hensrud recommends using olive oil when saut?ing foods and in salad dressings, and canola oil when baking.

Olive Oil Facts

Olive oil is best when stored at 57 degrees F or at room temperature of approximately 70 degrees F if kept in a dark area.

Extra virgin olive oil is the top grade olive oil available and is required to meet more than 20 quality guidelines. No chemicals or extreme heat may be used during the oil extraction process.

Refrigeration is not recommended for extra virgin olive oil as condensation may change the flavor. Refrigeration is fine for most other grades, but the cold temperature can turn the oil cloudy.

Olive oil is best used within six months to one year of opening the bottle.

When olives are crushed for oil, the pit is normally crushed along with the fruit.

To achieve optimal health, be sure to complement your healthy diet with a regular exercise program.

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