My love affair with olive oil spans decades. Blame it on my Sicilian roots or my love of all things Mediterranean but I can't get enough of it. I cook with it, I drink it, I moisturize with it, I condition with it, and now I'm waxing poetic about it. So trust me when I say there is no one more qualified to guide you through olive oil's myriad benefits and uses.
Benefits of Olive Oil
-Rich in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat aka the good fat that can help lower LDL cholesterol and increase heart healthy HDL cholesterol.
-Rich in antioxidants that can help to prevent damage to cells.
-Rich in polyphenols that have a cardioprotective effect on blood vessels and protect skin cells from oxidative damage.
-High content of vitamins E and K and minerals such as potassium and sodium.
-Good source of omega-6 rich linoleic acid.
How to Buy Olive OIl
-Always look for extra virgin as this is the purest and least processed form of olive oil. Lesser processes can allow for further refining that utilize heat, chemicals, or both.
-Always buy cold pressed to ensure that the olives were never heated.
-Try to find olive oils packaged in a dark, air tight container. Heat, light, and air will thwart olive oil storage so avoid buying olive oil in a clear container or storing it in something that isn't air tight.
-Don't buy in bulk unless you're really going to go through it. Unlike a fine wine, olive oil will not get better with age it will just get rancid. Once opened, use up or replace olive oil every 2-3 months.
-Check the harvest date and go with the freshest oil possible.
-Look for certification from a voluntary inspection agency such as the COOC (California Olive Oil Council).
-Look for a high polyphenol count. The olive oils will the highest will usually announce as much. Wonder Valley and Oliflix are personal favorites.
How to Use Olive Oil
-Olive oil can be used for cooking but keep in mind that its quality determines its smoke point. High quality extra virgin olive oil has a high smoke point of about 400 degrees whereas lower quality refined olive oils have a much lower smoke point. Heating olive oil will also diminish some of its antioxidant and polyphenol content so I always like to finish foods with a fresh drizzle.
-Olive oil is amazing on salads and as a finishing oil on vegetables, avocado toast, or anything at all.
-As a butter substitute in baking and frying. Replace 1 cup of butter with 3/4 cup of olive oil to lighten up buttery recipes.
-Drizzled over ice cream. Sounds weird but trust me, 1 scoop of vanilla ice cream with a drizzle of olive oil and some crushed almonds is heaven.
-In hot water with lemon first thing in the morning. Olive oil will encourage the gall bladder to release bile, which can increase regularity and encourage colon health.
-As a stomach liner before drinking. A shot of olive oil before a night of moderate drinking will line the stomach with healthy fat helping to diminish alcohol absorption sparing you from a nasty hangover.
-As a makeup remover and face wash. Oil dissolves oil so the best way to combat oily skin is more oil. Put some olive oil on a cotton round and work in little circles around your face. Wash off with cold water and finish with your favorite moisturizer, which should probably just be more olive oil.
-As a moisturizer. Your is your largest and most permeable organ so moisturizing with olive oil can help deliver all of those aforementioned benefits directly to the skin.
-As a deep conditioner for hair. Coat the ends of the hair with olive oil and put it up in a bun for 90 minutes or longer. Rinse it out and marvel at your lustrous, shiny hair!