The Benefits of Olive Oil
Editor's Note: If you visit a market in the middle east or any
of the Mediterranean countries, you'll see women leaving the market carrying
gallons (and gallons) of olive oil. I made friends with a family from Morocco
while living in Ashkelon, Israel and learned a lot about their cooking methods.
It seems that a Moroccan recipe can call for anywhere between a half a cup of
olive oil to half a swimming pool of olive oil.
While cooking eggplant one day, my friend told me this ancient
story about eggplant and olive oil. It's cute . . . and followed by the benefits
of olive oil.
Many years ago, in a Mediterranean country, there was a young
couple about to marry. In those days, the father of the bride provided the new
husband with a dowry. The father of this particular bride owned the largest
olive oil factory in the area. The bride's dowry would be 100 barrels of oil;
enough olive oil for at least 30 years of marriage.
The couple married, went on their honeymoon, and returned home
to start their new life together.
The wife loved to cook and serve her husband. Her husband
enjoyed her cooking, especially her eggplant. He told her that he wanted her
eggplant in every meal. He loved her Baba Ganoush, her fried eggplant, her
eggplant salads. Much of the young wife's day was spent frying up
eggplant for her husband.
When the couples wedding anniversary was just a few weeks
away, the couple planned a large celebration. They invited their families and
friends to come together to celebrate with them their first year of marriage. One day
before the celebration, all the wives showed up at the young wife's kitchen and
began cooking up the feast.
The celebration was pulled off without a problem. Everyone ate
and drank their fill and wished the young couple 100 more anniversaries.
As the guests were leaving, the young couple stood in their
doorway waving their good-byes. When the last was gone, the husband took his
wife in his arms, hugging her sweetly, but then whispered into her ear, "My
Darling, every day for the past year you have cooked for me your wonderful eggplant. We
have had it at every meal. But today, for our celebration with our friends,
there was no eggplant. Why is that?"
She looked her husband in the eyes, kissed him on his cheek,
and said, "Do you remember my dowry of 100 barrels of olive oil?"
He nodded, yes.
"Well, my husband, we used up the last of it the day before
The Mediterranean Diet
In our full article on the Mediterranean Diet, we claimed that
the one thing that stood out and made the diet healthy was the ratio of omega-6
to omega-3 (in the blood of those who followed this diet). We also pointed out
that olive oil is the main oil of their diets.
The thing is, olive oil is not all that high in omega-3
essential fatty acids.
Many have asked, then how can this diet maintain that healthy
ratio of fats?
Well, it's quite simple. Olive oil does not contain much
omega-6, either. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fatty acid. In America, we get
our omega-6s from polyunsaturated fatty acids. By not supplying much omega-6 via
their olive oil, people who follow the Mediterranean diet get their omega-3s
from other sources: meat, plants, fish, nuts, etc.
Monounsaturated Fatty Acids
Monounsaturated fatty acids does not oxidize in the body.
Omega-3s, Omega-6s, and cholesterol all oxidize in the body. Olive oil just
happens to be the oil highest in monounsaturated fatty acid. Canola oil comes in
second, but I won't have canola oil in my kitchen. There are just too many
negatives associated with canola oil.
One reason olive oil does not contribute to oxidative stress
is that it is rich in antioxidants, especially vitamin E.
So, let's take a look at all of the benefits of olive oil:
Helps lower levels of blood cholesterol. Writers love to
day that this protects us from heart disease because high cholesterol levels
lead to heart disease. That is wrong. There has never been a study that
proved that cholesterol is the cause of heart disease, but still, it does
lower blood cholesterol and helps maintain a better ratio of HDL to LDL.
When it comes to heart disease, it's not your overall cholesterol you want
to control but rather you want to have a better ratio of HDL to LDL (raise
your HDL and lower your LDL).
Olive oil does protect and keep the heart young by
function and reducing endothelial (the outer layer of cells in our
Olive oil is anti-inflammatory, containing a phytonutrient
Because of the phytonutrient oleocanthal, olive oil
reduces the risk of
Though researchers are unsure how this works, those who
consume olive oil as their main dietary oil
lower their risk of
Because of the healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 and
the phytonutrient oleocanthal, olive oil helps to prevent diabetes,
improving blood sugar
control and enhancing insulin sensitivity.
Helps control hypertension (high blood pressure),
bringing down both
systolic and diastolic numbers.
Increases calcium absorption, improving bone calcification, thus
Despite the high caloric value of olive oil, using it
exclusively has been shown to help weight loss.
Not only has it been found to reduce the incidence
of strokes, people who use olive oil as their main oil source are
protected by olive oil
should they have a stroke, thus olive oil is neuroprotective.
recent study shows that it can protect against breast cancer.
Can help protect against
Cooking With Olive Oil
Olive oil will smoke at a higher than most people think;
somewhere after 380 degrees. Since I believe in low temp cooking, I keep my
frying at or below 350 degrees.
The choice is up to you, but I prefer frying with coconut oil;
in fact, I like to mix them together.
The Problem With Extra Virgin Olive Oil
If you've had your ear to the ground, you probably know that
companies are ripping off the public claiming their oil to be extra virgin when
My local co-op carries olive oil from trusted companies. Here
are two trusted brands you can order online.