Olive oil: What are the health benefits?
What are the health benefits of olive oil? Is extra-virgin oil better than regular olive oil?
from Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
When cooking with fats, olive oil is a healthy choice. Olive oil contains monounsaturated fat, which can lower your risk of heart disease by reducing the total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad") cholesterol levels in your blood.
In contrast, saturated and trans fats — such as butter, tropical oils and hydrogenated margarines — increase your risk of heart disease by increasing your total and LDL cholesterol levels.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), consuming about 2 tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil a day may reduce your risk of heart disease. You can get the most benefit by substituting olive oil for saturated fats rather than just adding more olive oil to your diet.
All types of olive oil provide monounsaturated fat, but "extra-virgin" or "virgin" olive oils are the least processed forms. As a result, they contain the highest levels of polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant.