What Type Of Fat Is Olive Oil?
Olive oil is a fat, that fact is widely known - but when it comes to fats, all that chemistry can be complicated and confusing. There are different types of fats, some good, some bad, and then there are some that fall in the middle. Which fats should you be consuming, and which should you stay away from? We're here to answer your questions...
Bad Fats - Trans Fats
Let's start off with the bad fats and make our way to the best. The worst types of fats are Trans fats. Trans fats are typically man-made fats in which a naturally occurring vegetable oil goes through the process of hydrogenation - meaning hydrogen molecules are added to a liquid oil to create a solid oil. These fats are referred to "partially hydrogenated oils" on an ingredient label - so check for that! Trans fats are by far the most detrimental to our health. They have been extensively studied and are known to cause many health issues including heart disease, cancers, strokes, obesity, blood sugar disorders and more!
*Important tip: Even if the nutrition label says 0 grams trans fat per serving, it is always important to check the ingredient list to be sure there are not partially hydrogenated oils on it!
Good Fats - Saturated Fats
Next we have the in-between fats... the ones that are not awesome for our health but are not horrible either. These are called Saturated fats, the best way to know if you are dealing with a saturated fat is whether or not it is solid at room temperature - if it is solid, then you're dealing with a saturated fat. These types of fats are commonly found in the Standard American Diet, like red meat, butter, milk, cheese, coconut oil, the list goes on... Saturated fats are known to be somewhat detrimental to health because they tend to raise our bad cholesterol levels (LDL or low-density lipoproteins) which can eventually cause blockages in our arteries and lead to heart disease, fatty liver, strokes and other scary diseases. These fats can be eaten as part of a healthy diet, so long as they are eaten in appropriate amounts, at about 10% of our daily caloric intake.
Great Fats - Unsaturated Fats
Saving the best for last, we have Unsaturated Fats... these are the safe, health-boosting fats that our bodies need to survive. You can tell you're dealing with an unsaturated fat because they are always liquid at room temperature. There are two types of Unsaturated fats - Monounsaturated fats and Polyunsaturated fats. The difference between the two is the chemical makeup and the role they play in our health.
Monounsaturated fats are fatty acids called omega-9 fatty acids, and boy do we benefit from these guys. They often come from whole foods and fresh pressed vegetable oils - olive oil is mainly comprised of monounsaturated fats. These fats are associated with balanced blood cholesterol levels and reduced risk of chronic, degenerative disease, and strongly support controlled blood sugar levels.
Polyunsaturated fats mainly have the same benefits of monounsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats are omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids meaning our bodies do not produce them and we need to consume them in order to obtain them. These fats support a healthy heart, appropriate cholesterol ratios, balanced blood sugar and blood pressure levels.
So, let's bring it back to extra virgin olive oil...
So, extra virgin olive oil is composed of mainly monounsaturated fat (a great fat), meaning it helps to balance our blood sugar levels, which supports anyone with metabolic syndrome (i.e. diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, obesity, and other insulin resistant syndromes). It also supports healthy cholesterol levels by decreasing bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol, helping our bodies find the appropriate balance. Olive oil also boosts cardiovascular health because it helps to break down and eliminate plaque build-up in the arteries.
This means that extra virgin olive oil is one of the best oils to reach for when cooking anything and everything, especially when you have flavor options to choose from... Not to mention the extremely potent antioxidant content and other nutritious value packed into this liquid gold!
Did you know all these facts about fats and olive oil?
Let us know your questions in the comments below!