When we cook our meals, we often need some liquid fat for cooking.
These fats conduct heat so that the food cooks evenly at higher temperatures and prevents the proteins on the surface of the food from sticking to the pan. They also add flavor and texture to the food.
The two broad categories of fats you’ll find in a kitchen are animal fats, such as butter, dairy and the fats found in meat, and vegetable oils, such as canola oil, grapeseed oil, peanut oil, and olive oil.
Olive oil is a classic favorite and for a good reason.
Switching To Olive Oil
Animal fats can also be referred to as saturated fats. They are “saturated” with hydrogen atoms, which give them a solid structure at room temperature.
Saturated fats have been shown to raise “bad” LDL cholesterol, contributes to weight gain and cardiovascular disease. They may increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer.
Olive oil, and some other vegetable oils (but not all), are unsaturated fat. These fats are liquid at room temperature and appear to be much less harmful, possibly even having an opposite effect – decreasing the risk of obesity, heart disease, and cancer.
By replacing animal fats with olive oil in your diet, you may significantly reduce your chance of developing some chronic illnesses.
Other Benefits of Olive Oil
Olive oil is rich in nutrients and vitamins essential to our health. For example, Vitamin E plays a critical role in our immune systems, and Vitamin K is a key component for blood clotting and bone health.
Olive oil is also a good source of healthy compounds called polyphenols, antioxidants that may improve heart and brain health and offer other anti-inflammatory benefits. Inflammation can damage cellular structures and is associated with chronic diseases such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
This anti-inflammatory effect suggests that olive oil may also be a great preventative tool against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Olive oil may also be used as a topical moisturizer to benefit your skin, hair, and nails, though more research is needed to determine how effective this actually is.
Olive oil is not a magic cure, of course. Like other cooking fats and oils, it is high in calories and should be consumed in moderation.
But when you’re cooking at home, choosing olive oil instead of animal fats could be an effortless and positive step towards improving your health.