Ah, olive oil, that liquid, gold ambrosia that gives such a great mouth feel to so many dishes. When it comes to olive oil, some of the things that you are likely to hear are: it is heart healthy and people in the Mediterranean who have been consuming it for centuries have reduced rates of death from coronary disease and even certain cancers. Sounds great, doesn’t it? But what if there is another side to olive oil?
Olive oil is actually a processed food because is it has been extracted from the olive and once it’s extracted from the olive it becomes a low-nutrient (because much of the nutrients are left in the olive) and fattening food. At this point, it’s 100% fat. When you consume fats that are in the form of extracted oils, your body is very efficient in converting it into body fat because they are rapidly absorbed by the body. So, if weight control is a concern for you, this is something to consider.
Now, if the oil had not been separated from the olive and you ate the olive in its natural state, the absorption of fat would be much slower and would be accompanied by the nutrients in the olive that are considerable, by the way. Your body would also be more likely to use the fat in the olive for its energy needs rather than storing it. Now I am not talking about those WAY TOO salty olives that you can buy in a jar. I mean raw, unrefined olives. I have purchased these online over the years from many places on the web. Just google, “buy raw olives” and many options will pop up. I like to spritz them with lemon juice and sprinkle fresh herbs like basil over them. Yum!
So what’s a person to do? Consider getting fats from whole plant foods like nuts, seeds, and avocados. If you are a salad fiend like me, you can even make delicious salad dressings from these. Check out the book “The End of Dieting” by Dr. Joel Fuhrman for some great recipes.
Now lest you think I have it in for olive oil, I don’t. I love it! But, I have learned to be very sparing in my use of it and other oils. Use it more like a condiment. For instance, whenever I make gluten-free chickpea pizza crust, I will brush about a half teaspoon of olive oil over the whole thing. It provides just a little richness to my pizza. Fabulous! So, enjoy olive oil, but try to keep in mind that a little goes a very long way.