The Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest in the world. Luckily, in Spain, it is the most followed and has olive oil as one of the staple foods. Possibly you have a pot in your pantry, either for cooking, for dressing or for your toast. I want to leave you with a momentary doubt: is olive oil a source of healthy fat? The nutritionists say yes, and we analyze it.
This olive oil is one of the healthiest because its fats are healthy for the heart. In a portion (1 tablespoon) of extra virgin oil we find:
-10 grams of monounsaturated fat
– grams of saturated fat
-2 grams of polyunsaturated fat
-1.9 milligrams of vitamin E (10% of the recommended daily value)
-8’1 micrograms of vitamin K (10% of the recommended daily value)
The monounsaturated fats (Omega-6 in this case) are important because they help improve the health of the heart. It favors the prevention of health problems, cardiovascular diseases, and strokes. Athletes have to put special emphasis on the care of their heart since they use it much more than a sedentary person. So it is beneficial to incorporate certain nutrients into your diet to protect it. These types of fats are also anti-inflammatory, so they help muscle recovery. When we exercise some micro tears can be caused in the muscles, generating inflammation and muscle pain, but the anti-inflammatory can soothe that reaction.
On the other hand, vitamin E is an antioxidant that most people do not consume enough. This mineral helps stimulate the immune system and protects the body against heart disease and some types of cancer. In addition, its antioxidant content protects cells against radical damage, especially of muscles and lungs. Vitamin K is important for absorbing fats (such as monounsaturated fats in olive oil). So if you do not ingest enough of this vitamin, your body will have trouble using it effectively.
Is it really fundamental in our diet?
Yes, it is highly recommended to use olive oil daily in any of your meals. In fact, the Mediterranean diet includes up to 4 tablespoons of oil per day.
When we do resistance workouts, our body needs healthy fats to generate energy. A quarter of the calories should come from fat so you can put a little fat in each meal. In addition, this will make you feel sated throughout the day.
Most experts recommend that most of the fat you consume should come from whole foods or fish, but we can not ignore cooking oils. Although, of course, you should not exceed or make your food drip with oil.
That said, it’s interesting that you know why there are some oils that are more recommended. On the one hand, you should make sure you consume extra virgin olive oil, instead of opting for virgin or simply refined. The extra virgin olive oil is the closest to nature and the least refined. The more refined the oil, the less knowledge of your process you will have. There are factories that add chemical products or treat intense heat, something that could damage their antioxidants.
In contrast, EVOO tends to be more compact, darker or greener in color, and they also have more flavor.
You also have to pay attention to whether you buy olive oil in a glass bottle or a plastic bottle. In general, glass is a safer option because it keeps the oil more stable. The plastic contains chemicals, so the longer the oil sits on the plastic, the more chemicals can be released.
Can it be heated or its properties destroyed?
One of the biggest headaches is what happens with olive oil when it is heated. The hotter a food is (or the longer you heat it), the more nutrients are lost. Also, if food containing fat reaches its smoking point, it could create pro-oxidants, instead of antioxidants, and could damage your cells.
According to experts, the smoke point of extra virgin olive oil is between 176 and 210 degrees Celsius, with lighter olive oil that begins to smoke between 198 and 243ºC.
There are some people who prefer not to cook with olive oil for this reason but have not done too much research to show that there are negative effects. For example, a 2018 study, published in the journal Acta Scientific Nutritional Health, found that when olive oil was heated to a temperature of 240ºC and exposed to 180ºC for six hours, it did not degrade.
So, in conclusion, we can say that olive oil is completely safe to drink even when heated. Some have speculated that heated oil destroys healthy compounds for the heart and creates opposing compounds that relate to various health conditions. In contrast, olive oil has been compared against other oils and has been found to be one of the most stable heat oils, even surpassing canola and coconut.
If you cook with oil, choose a virgin olive oil. If you prefer to sprinkle it on food without applying heat, opt for the extra virgin option.