Most things that taste good turn out to be guilty pleasures. Sugar tastes good, for example, but there's an increasing body of evidence demonstrating that sugar may be to blame for everything from weight gain to liver damage. Salt also tastes good, but most Westerners get too much refined table salt in their diet, leading to high blood pressure and other health problems.
Olive oil tastes good. Most people love olive oil with herbs for dipping fresh bread, they like it in salads, and they like it when it's used for cooking. Olive oil, unlike refined table salt and sugar, doesn't have to be a guilty pleasure. In fact, when used in moderation, olive oil can be good for your health. Here are 4 reasons to use more olive oil when you're cooking, making a fresh salad or looking for a marinade.
1. Olive oil may decrease your risk of heart disease.
A group of researchers in Florence, Italy, recently ran a study indicating that women who consume an ounce of olive oil per day are 44 percent less likely to get heart disease than their non-olive oil consuming peers. The researchers need to study this phenomenon more before making any definite conclusions about why olive oil reduces the risk of heart disease, but the preliminary findings suggest that the high level of antioxidant plant compounds could be the reason behind the lowered risk.
2. Olive oil lowers levels of inflammation in the body.
The Western medical community is getting more interested in the topic of inflammation than ever before. Inflammation might be to blame for a whole host of diseases, ranging from the aforementioned heart disease to arthritis and other problems. Extra virgin olive oil, it turns out, reduces inflammation markers in the blood. The polyphenols that extra virgin olive oil is rich with are well-known for their anti-inflammatory properties.
3. Feeling sad? Maybe you should have more olive oil.
As scientists learn more about the biological mechanisms that contribute to depression, one thing they have discovered is that people whose diet is high in trans fats - i.e., the "bad" fats - have higher rates of depression than people whose diet is high in mono and polyunsaturated fats. In other words, junk food is one dangerous factor in the complex problem of depression and mental health.
In one study, researchers compared the mental states of people whose dietary fat mostly consisted of trans fats to people whose dietary fat mostly came mostly from olive oil. People whose fat intake came mostly from olive oil were a whopping 48 percent less likely to be depressed.
4. Your high-quality, extra virgin olive oil doesn't even have to be imported anymore
It used to be that the best olive oils came from Europe. These days, however, it's possible to get high-quality olive oil from within the United States. On the West Coast, for example,California olive oilproducers are now making excellent olive oil that's every bit as good as European olive oil. Buying olive oil from a source closer to home means that you can enjoy your olive oil and its health benefits without feeling guilty about the environmental damage you contribute to by buying an imported product.