One of the most versatile foods on the planet, olive oil is delicious, healthy, and versatile. It’s a treat for your taste buds – and your health. Oil from olives, also called olive oil, is high in monounsaturated fat and low in saturated fat. Plus, it contains compounds called polyphenols that reduce oxidative stress and fight inflammation.
What’s the big deal about olive oil? Research shows substituting the monounsaturated fats in olive oil for saturated fat in your diet may reduce your risk of heart disease and help keep blood vessels healthy.
The best way to enjoy the health benefits of olive oil is to use extra virgin olive oil since it’s made from the first pressing of olives, which makes it more flavorful and nutritious than other types of olive oil. Virgin or extra virgin olive oils tend to be greener, while pure or light olive oil is typically golden yellow.
You may already saute with olive oil or use it to make dressings, but there are other ways to enjoy its health benefits. Let’s look at some creative ways to enjoy olive oil.
Drizzle the oil over a bowl of popcorn
Popcorn is a whole grain, and its high fiber content makes it a heart-healthy food associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Popcorn doesn’t raise blood sugar as much as other crunchy snacks like chips, which makes it a good choice for people with diabetes.
The problem is that most people don’t eat plain popcorn — they add unhealthy toppings like butter or caramel to it. Why not drizzle olive oil on your next bowl of popcorn? The monounsaturated fats are a heart-healthy substitute for the saturated fats in butter. You could also drizzle in olive oil and sprinkle with your favorite spices for even more health benefits and a flavor punch.
Add a drizzle of olive oil to a baked potato
Add a drizzle of olive oil to a baked potato in place of sour cream or butter. Tossing sliced potatoes with olive oil before baking them can also give them a crispier texture than simply baking them in their naked form. You can also use olive oil in place of butter when making mashed potatoes.
Healthy fats are an important part of a healthy diet, and olive oil is one of the healthiest choices out there.
Olive oil is a good substitute for butter and other fats in cooking and baking. Most of the fat in olive oil is monounsaturated fat, which may help reduce total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol levels when you use it in place of saturated fat.
Just remember that all fats contain calories, so don’t overdo it when pouring on the olive oil. It’s quite filling too, so you don’t need much to feel satisfied.
Add herbs to make a dipping oil
Olive oil offers the most health benefits when you don’t heat it and destroy its antioxidants. (Choose extra-virgin olive oil for the most antioxidants.) So, use olive oil and herbs to make a dipping oil that’s packed with powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Be creative with your combinations. You can use fresh herbs or dried herbs — just be sure to store the oil mixtures in the fridge for up to 2 weeks (or freeze for longer storage).
Replace the dairy in soup with olive oil
If you love cream soups, but don’t want the dairy, simply add extra virgin olive oil. It will have a similar mouthfeel and offer an abundance of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, unlike dairy. You can also use it to replace butter or cream sauces when sautéing vegetables or making risotto. Dairy also contains lactose, a carbohydrate many people don’t digest well.
Mix it into grain bowls
Adding a little fat to grain and vegetable bowls will increase the amount of fat-soluble nutrients you absorb from that bowl. One example is beta-carotene in carrots. A source of fat boosts beta-carotene absorption from orange vegetables, like carrots, and leafy greens, which are also rich in beta-carotene. Adding olive oil will also make your bowl more filling and satisfying.
Make infused olive oil
You can add incredible flavor to olive oil by adding rosemary sprigs, garlic cloves, or other herbs to a bottle of olive oil to infuse flavor. Keep it simple. Start with just one herb or spice and experiment before combining flavors. You can find instructions for how to do this online.
To store your infused olive oil, pour it into a clean glass jar or bottle with a lid. This will keep for up to 1 month in your refrigerator or up to 6 months if you freeze it. You can use this infused olive oil as a salad dressing, a dipping sauce, or mixed in with your favorite pasta dishes. It also makes a great gift for friends and family members who enjoy cooking.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, there are many ways to enjoy olive oil. Whether you’re looking for a special dressing for your salad, a dip for some fresh bread or veggies, or an after-dinner indulgence to complement your meal, find the ways that work for you.
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Gaforio, Visioli, Alarcón-de-la-Lastra, et al. Virgin Olive Oil and Health: Summary of the III International Conference on Virgin Olive Oil and Health Consensus Report, JAEN (Spain) 2018. Nutrients. 2019;11(9):2039. doi:10.3390/nu11092039.
“Is extra-virgin olive oil extra healthy? – Harvard Health.” 01 Nov. 2021, health.harvard.edu/nutrition/is-extra-virgin-olive-oil-extra-healthy.