December 6, 2021

Acqua NYC

Fit And Go Forward

Extra virgin olive oil supplies the good fats we need | Feature Columnist

Even while wearing our face coverings some of us have managed to eat more than we need, in part out of stress. So, be physically active, eat healthy — and try not to eat too much. Don’t dwell on it but if you are stress eating, ask yourself why and what you can change.

Q How do I select the “right’ olive oil? — KA, Greenville.

A Kalle Parks, a senior ECU dietetic student has the information for you:

Let’s face it. No matter what steps you take, how many nutritious foods you eat, there will always be a new study telling you there is something even better than what you are doing now. When it comes to making healthy food choices, it can be hard to find helpful information that makes sense. It is easy to come across various sources that contradict each other as well as other sources giving false information. Looking at the different types of oils that can be used for cooking, such as olive, vegetable or canola oil, it can be difficult to decide on which oil is the best to implement into your diet. So, let’s look at the many benefits of olive oils and how to decipher which one is best to consume.

When it comes to fats and oils, many people are unaware of the “good” fats that are heart and brain healthy and full of antioxidants. Olive oil is an oil loaded in monounsaturated fats that contribute to the prevention of illnesses such as stroke and heart disease and may help your memory. Like most oils, there are various kinds of olive oils, all having great benefits. One of the best oils is extra-virgin olive oil. This type of olive oil is the main source of fat in the Mediterranean diet, a plant-based diet filled with fish, grains, vegetables, and fruits.

You can find the Mediterranean diet described in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Humans who consume this diet have a significantly positive lifestyle with less chronic disease. Olive oil contains organic compounds called polyphenols. These compounds are plant-based and pose many benefits that contribute to anti-inflammatory properties and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, and cognitive decline. Studies have shown that the benefits of polyphenols include lowering blood pressure and prevent any further damage to the arteries within the body.

Now that you are aware of some of the benefits, let’s talk about other types as well as the cost of each type of olive oil. Some types of olive oils include extra-virgin, light and pomace. When shopping at the grocery store, purchasing olive oil can be confusing and can get pricey very fast. Extra-virgin olive oil, known as EVOO, is the star of the show. EVOO and other types of olive oil contain around 14 grams of fat.

Some would tell you to always buy extra-virgin, which is cold-pressed. It likely has more of the healthy polyphenols than olive oil that is refined and labeled as “Light” or “olive oil.” Use the expensive extra virgin olive oil in ways you can actually taste it. If you aren’t a connoisseur of the flavor and color, you can buy the least expensive of the extra virgin. I looked at two different brands of EVOO at Walmart. The brand Great Value sells a 25.5-ounce bottle of EVOO for $4.76 while the brand Bertolli sells their 25.5-ounce bottle for $5.98. Do buy your olive oil in a dark container, preferably glass or metal. When exposed to light the quality deteriorates.

The refined olive oils have had some type of chemical treatment to the oil, leading to a decrease in quality and taste. Pomace olive oil is made by extracting the olive pulp and this type is generally used for cooking and deep-frying foods. While olive oils are a healthy fat, it still is fat and one tablespoon has 120 calories coming from 14 grams of fat. Only 2.2 grams are saturated.

Even if some foods like olive oil are expensive, there are ways to shop on a budget and still find what’s best for you and your family. Just know that making better choices with your diet will ultimately result in a more positive, healthy lifestyle.

Professor emeritus Kathy Kolasa, a registered dietitian nutritionist and Ph.D., is an affiliate professor in the Brody School of Medicine at ECU. Contact her at [email protected]

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