We Already Love Olive Oil, But This Study Shows Why You Should Have It Weekly
Good fats, bad fats, red fats, blue fats. The discussion around what fats to eat and how much can really make your head spin. It can feel like there's new research or a new opinion out every single day! That said, there's one tried-and-true fat that has consistently earned praise from nutritionists and researchers all across the board, and new research has only added fuel to the fire.
A new study out of the NYU School of Medicine for the American Heart Association found that obese people who ate olive oil at least once a week had less likelihood of developing clogged arteries. Those who ate olive oil consistently were even better off, with the lowest likelihood.
The study chalks this up to improved levels of "platelet activation." Platelets are the root cause of clots—they're tiny pieces of blood cells that can get stuck together and clog up important arteries, leading to a stroke or heart attack. The more olive oil participants consumed, the less active their platelets, leading to this reduced risk.
The study isn't without its parameters, however. It only examined about 60 people, all of which were obese, making it a pretty small and specific sample. The researchers didn't have an exact picture of how much olive oil each person consumed—all of the study participants only answered how often they ate olive oil, not how much.
Don't let this discourage you from working a dose of this healthy fat into your next stir fry or pesto, however. Olive oil has also been associated with glowy skin, improved cholesterol, and protection of the brain. It's no wonder the Mediterranean diet has skyrocketed in popularity as of recent. The diet is chock-full of good fats through its emphasis on whole foods like fish, nuts, and, of course, our much-beloved EVOO.
If you're ready to start eating more olive oil, there are a couple of caveats to keep in mind: First, olive oil fraud is actually a thing, so it's important to ensure that the oil you're buying is actually legit. Second, olive oil has a specific smoke point, and if you heat it above that point, you'll actually lose all those health benefits mentioned above. It's important to monitor your cooking techniques to try and preserve as many of its healthy characteristics as possible.
So, jazz up a simple linguine with lemon-oregano oil, or even satisfy your sweet tooth with this star ingredient. With a little more EVOO in your life, you'll be feeling like you're basking in the glow of the Italian countryside in no time—and you'll gain some pretty amazing health benefits.
Elizabeth Gerson is a former mindbodygreen intern and a student at Stanford University studying Psychology and Communication with a specialization in Health & Development. She has also written for SFGate.com and The Stanford Daily and runs a paleo(ish) food Instagram, @healthy_lizard.