If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance you’re wanting to know how olive oil can be so healthy but so calorie-dense at the same time. After all, clocking in at roughly 120 calories per tablespoon is no joke, especially considering that some people use olive oil much in the same way they use America’s favorite condiment – ketchup.
So, in this article, we’re going to be taking an in-depth look at the nutrition behind what’s largely considered to be the healthiest oil on Earth.
Dating back more than 4,000 years, olive oil has managed to make its way into practically every country and culture around the world. Originating from the Mediterranean region, the craft of turning olives into olive oil has been passed down for generations. In fact, it’s because of this that these regions continue to produce some of the highest quality olive oil you’ll find anywhere.
As with any fruit or vegetable, in order to get the highest quality olive oil, you have to understand the importance of how the olives are grown. Now, you may be wondering, why should I care about the way olives are grown? I came here to learn about the nutrition facts.
As it turns out, not all olives have the same nutrient profile. Even though the calories may appear identical, the beneficial nutrients that aren’t listed on the nutrition label are largely determined by the quality of the olives themselves.
Everything from the way the trees are groomed and the olives are picked to how they’re transported and processed plays a key role in establishing the quality of the finished product. For example, buying olive oil from the Mediterranean region that states it was made from “hand-picked” or “tree” olives it a strong indicator that the farmer places special care into every step of the production process.
While this may take a little extra legwork if you’re buying olive oil from a large supermarket chain, the nutritional benefits can be night and day.
Because fat has been labeled public enemy number one for more than a decade, a lot of people get turned off by olive oil when they see that it’s composed almost entirely of fat. We’re here to show you that the fat, in addition to other unlisted nutrients, found in olive oil is actually healthy.
Though the numbers can vary slightly from bottle to bottle, in most cases, a tablespoon of olive oil will net you 125 calories and 14 grams of fat (about 22% of your daily value). To arrive at this number, simply multiply each gram of fat by 9 – the number of calories one gram of fat equates to in the body.
While that may seem like a bit much for a single tablespoon, it’s important to understand the type of fat that’s in olive oil. On average, the 14 grams is largely comprised of both monounsaturated fats (between 6-7 grams) and polyunsaturated fats (about 4-5 grams). These “good fats” are responsible for all kinds of beneficial happenings in the body, when consumed in moderation, of course.
Some of the benefits include lowering bad cholesterol levels in the blood which can reduce your risk of heart disease or stroke, aiding with the creation and maintenance of cells, as well as provide the body with vitamin E, one of the most powerful antioxidants in the body.
Even though you won’t find these listed anywhere on the nutrition facts label, olive oil is simply packed with beneficial antioxidants that help keep the body in good health. The first one we’re going to touch on is the widely important fat-soluble vitamin E.
While it’s considered a vitamin, E is also an incredibly important antioxidant that helps to balance cholesterol, fight the damaging effects of free radicals, and slow the body’s natural aging process by aiding with skin repair, to name a few.
Up next we have oleocanthal and oleuropein, two of olive oil’s main antioxidants that help with things like reducing inflammation and anti-oxidation. This is incredibly important since both chronic inflammation and oxidation are largely believed to contribute to a variety of diseases.
In fact, countless studies have found evidence that suggests olive oil has the ability to reduce inflammatory markers such as C-Reactive Proteins.
Polyphenols, though technically classified as a phytochemical, commonly fall under the same umbrella as antioxidants due to their beneficial activity in the body. Primarily found in extra virgin olive oil, polyphenols are powerful fighters against free radicals and oxidation, both of which affect how quickly you age as well as increase your risk of developing different diseases.
Unlike the other beneficial compounds we’ve been talking about, polyphenols are only found in extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) due to the minimal processing. Because EVOO is processed the least out of all the different types, it’s able to retain nearly all of the beneficial properties.
This is why extra virgin olive oil is considered the highest quality olive oil you can buy, and why they demand a higher price tag.
Now that you’ve learned all about the various nutritional components olive oil can contain, you probably don’t feel as bad about using it in some of your favorite dishes, right?
When consumed in moderation, olive oil has proven to be a powerful, natural ingredient that bolsters your health and protects against ailments. Here at D’Olivo, we’ve made it our mission to share the holistic benefits of olive oil with as many customers as we possibly can.
It’s for that very reason we carry ultra premium olive oil, sourced from only the highest quality olives and processed using the strictest of standards. Shop online or come visit us in store to experience the D’Olivo difference!