This post is part of our "Super Foods" series and was submitted by Janet Bond Brill, Ph.D., RD, LDN, author of Prevent a Second Heart Attack: 8 Foods, 8 Weeks to Reverse Heart Disease.
Hippocrates called olive oil "the great therapeutic." Homer referred to it as "liquid gold." Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is key to heart health because it contains three components: monounsaturated fat (oleic acid), polyphenol antioxidant compounds (hydroxytyrosol and oleuropein), and the antioxidant vitamin, Vitamin E. Studies show that people who eat an EVOO-rich diet are less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack.
The Good Fat
EVOO stands apart from all other types of fat for several reasons:
- It provides the highest percentage of the extremely cardio-protective, monounsaturated fatty acid, oleic acid.
- It is packed with powerful plant antioxidants called "polyphenols," known to soothe inflammation and curb oxidative stress.
- It is also an excellent source of vitamin E, a major dietary antioxidant vitamin.
For Heart Health
Daily intake of EVOO can boost your heart disease defense system by:
- Increasing your body's antioxidant level,
- Immunizing "bad" LDL cholesterol against free radical attack,
- Controlling your cholesterol,
- Fighting inflammation,
- Lowering your blood pressure,
- Improving your blood sugar level, and
- Thinning your blood.
In the Kitchen
One additional advantage of frequent use of EVOO in the kitchen is that it is loaded with flavor and encourages the consumption of large amounts of vegetables and legumes, antioxidant and fiber-rich foods that many Americans find difficult to fit into their diet. Use EVOO in cooking to add taste and nutrition to your favorite dishes. You may be surprised at how some foods truly come alive with the addition of this "liquid gold."
Janet Bond Brill, Ph.D., is a registered dietitian, licensed dietitian/nutritionist and author of Cholesterol Down: 10 Simple Steps to Lower Your Cholesterol in 4 Weeks-Without Prescription Drugs and Prevent a Second Heart Attack: 8 foods, 8 Weeks to Reverse Heart Disease. She is a nationally recognized nutrition, health, and fitness expert, specializing in cardiovascular disease prevention. Learn more at DrJanet.com.
Flickr image from trix0r