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Olive oil benefits - in perspective

The many olive oil benefits DO NOT arise mainly from the fact that olive oil contains mostly monounsatured fats.

Nutritionists, when they discuss healthy cooking oils, usually talk only about their fatty acid profiles - that is, the percentage of saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that each oil contains.

And they say saturated fats are "bad" for health while polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are "good".

This is mostly wrong and misleading information. Click the following links to understand:

The fact that olive oil comprises mainly monounsaturated fats, at most, accounts for a small part of oilve oil benefits.

Monounsaturated fats tolerate heat well and this makes them suitable for cooking. Such fats are also known to protect against heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and other degenerative diseases. Click here to learn more about monounsaturated fats.

Besides olive oil, other oils rich in monounsaturated fatty acids include peanut oil, sesame oil and ricebran oils. These are all healthy oils that have been used in traditional societies for hundreds or thousands of years.

The one exception is Canola oil, which is also high in monounsaturated fats. This is a harmful oil that should be avoided. Click the following links to find out exactly what is canola oil, and why is canola oil harmful. Not all monounsaturated fats are equally good.

So why is olive oil healthy?

Rather than the content of monounsaturated fatty acids, considerable scientific evidence shows that the health benefits of olive oil arise mainly from its content of polyphenols - a class of antioxidants found in plant products, including tea, cocoa and various fruits.

Incidentally, olive is a fruit and olive oil is actually "fruit juice" extracted by pressing the flesh of the olive fruit. So olive oil benefits arise from drinking or cooking with "fruit juice".

A study published in the January 2005 edition of the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research found that extra virgin olive oil, which is rich in polyphenols, help improve the elasticity of blood vessels - and this improved elasticity is believed to reduce the risks of heart attacks and strokes. Lower grades of olive oil, which contain less polyphenols, do not produce the same effect.

In another study published in the April 2009 edition of Science Daily, Portuguese researchers reported that a type of polyphenol, called DHPEA-EDA, protects red blood cells against damage more than any other substance found in olive oil. DHPEA-EDA is effective even in low concentrations and extra virgin olive oil contains far more DHPEA-EDA than other vegetable oils.

Only extra virgin

The role of polyphenols leads us to a very important understanding - that olive oil benefits DO NOT come from all types of olive oil, but mainly from high quality, extra virgin olive oil.

The way olive oil is produced - by cold-pressing, without the use of high-heat, chemical solvents, etc - accounts for olive oil benefits as much as the oil itself. Quality makes all the difference.

There are many different types or grades of olive oil and not all provide olive oil benefits. Some, such as olive pomace oil, are actually considered "unfit for human consumption" - yet they are still sold to unsuspecting and ignorant consumers.

Click here to learn about olive oil benefits from different types of olive oil.

In particular, there is one "type" that you should be aware of - the "fake virgins". Because olive oil has become such a big, multi-billion dollar business, there are a number of oils passed of as "extra virgin olive oil" when, in fact, they are oils of lower grades. Olive oil fraud is widespread.

Click here to find out exactly what is extra virgin olive oil.

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Healthy cooking oils
Monounsaturated fats
Polyunsaturated fats - the dangers
Saturated fats - why they are not harmful
Saturated fats - health benefits
Saturated fats and heart disease I
Saturated fats and heart disease II
What is canola oil
Canola oil dangers
Duck fat
How to render duck fat
Choosing olive oils - what to look for
Extra virgin oilve oil / olive oil fraud
Olive oil health benefits
Olive oil types and grades
Olive pomace oil
Premium olive oils
Rapeseed = canola
Rice bran oil
Cooking with raw / toasted sesame oil
Sesame oil health benefits