With the relatively new enlightenment of American health has come a utopia of different food crazes and diets. Paleo, Keto, Organic, there is no shortage of diet plans to follow when trying to change your health and lifestyle to something more healthy and sustainable. According to Statista, in 2017 Americans consumed 9570 metric tons of Soybean Oil. This is almost seven thousand metric tons more than the next leading oil consumed by Americans that same year (Canola Oil). And over nine thousand metric tons more consumption than Olive Oil. With heart disease and stroke being the two leading causes of death globally, I would like to tell you the benefits of cooking with olive oil and why it may benefit you personally to swap out those Soybean Oils. Olive Oil may even provide more health benefits for some people than other well-known healthy oil alternatives.
Soybean Oil. What the hell is it?
The health benefits of Olive Oil are extensive. But before we get into that, let’s process some information about the current cooking oil consumption leader, Soybean Oil.
First things first. Soybean Oil, what the hell is it?
Simply put, Soybean Oil is a vegetable oil extracted from the Soy Bean. Soybean oil is found all over the place. Both liquid and partially hydrogenated versions of Soybean Oil are sold as, what is commonly referred to as vegetable oil.
Vegetables? Must be healthy!
Though vegetables are obviously an important staple of proper dieting, the name “vegetable oil” is a tad misleading. I say this because many vegetable oils are in fact very nutritious well processed during digestion. Generally, those oils aren’t referred to as vegetable oil but rather as something more specific to their oil sources. Some examples of great vegetable oils are Avocado Oil (article coming soon), Flaxseed Oil, and Sunflower Oil.
However, Soybean oil has been riding the vegetable oil “train” with these healthier alternatives for years, hiding in the ease of affordability of its production and being paraded as a healthy choice. But, truth be told, while there are mixed reviews on the health credentials of Soybean Oil, there is extensive research into Soybean Oil being one of the main culprits in obesity as well as research indicating it could even increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, even over animal fats.
Specifically, Soybean Oil is loaded with polyunsaturated trans fat. These are found in the form of Omega-6 and 3 fat levels found in Soybean Oil. Considering how common Soybean Oil is (found in margarine, mayonnaise, salad dressing, frozen foods, dairy, and meat, to name a few), it is not hard to see how we could be ingesting dangerously imbalanced proportions of Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids. The calculated serving size of Soybean Oil contains an omega fats ratio of 7:4:1. People, globally, are eating far too much Omega-6. Soybean Oil has become so abundant and heavily used in food processing, that it is almost impossible to not eat. Omega-6 is a healthy and necessary fatty acid, but as with too much of anything, abundance can be a bad thing. And unfortunately, too much of some things are worse than others.
The Benefits of Cooking With Olive Oil.
Contrary to Soybean Oil research, there has been an overwhelming amount of research performed for Olive Oil showcasing not only its sustainability as a normal dietary staple but also tremendous health benefits from ingesting this oil regularly. Similar to Soybean Oil, Olive Oil contains Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. However, these fatty acids only account for some of Olives Oils saturated fats – around 24%.
The majority of fatty acid found in Olive Oil is called Oleic Acid. Oleic Acid is a monounsaturated fat, which has generated some exciting results during some of its testings. Similar to the aforementioned Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, Oleic Acid is an Omega-9 fatty acid.
Omega-9’s are a non-essential fatty acid. Meaning, they are not something you necessarily need to include in your diet. Your body makes them naturally. However, there is a good deal of research that indicates Omega-9’s could aid in decreasing inflammation as well be a benefit in cancer prevention.
Even some healthier oils may pale in comparison. Coconut oil is all the craze right now, and it is well-known to have numerous benefits. However, Coconut Oil (unrefined) only smoking point of only 350 degrees Fahrenheit. This means, around 350 degrees, the heat begins destroying many of the nutrition benefits this oil provides – specifically, the oils fatty acids start burning here, creating smoke. In addition, due to the high levels of medium chain fatty acids found in Coconut Oil, the AHA suggests people with higher cholesterol levels should avoid consumption of Coconut Oil altogether.
Differences Between Pure and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
There are tons of different oils. In addition, there are tons of types of each of those different oils. When it comes to Olive Oil, you will find, what I am going to call options, during your shopping trip. These differences are related to how the oil is extracted from olives as opposed to using different types of olives. I do not want to spend too much effort on this, so I will summarize it quickly by saying, Extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality you can buy of olive oil. EV is untreated and free of chemicals used to extract the olives oil during processing found in pure olive oil. Pure olive oil is generally a mixture of virgin and non-virgin olive oil. You can find an excellent description here.
Generally, with most of my writings, I focus on natural products. I have done my best to avoid ingesting chemicals over the last couple of years and personally have found extensive benefits in my decision. Extra Virgin Olive Oil actually tends to have less oleic acid than its refined counterpart due to processing. But EV, along with its extensive list of health benefits, also has a much better and more natural taste than you get with pure.
More Benefits of Cooking With Olive Oil.
Let’s really break down just how healthy olive oil is for you.
In 2017, Healthline published an article written by Kris Gunnars, titled: Why Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the Healthiest Fat on Earth. In this article, Kris provides his sources and key bits of information showcasing why Extra Virgin Olive Oil can aid with inflammation, protect against cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer disease, and even has a section explaining how olive oil is damage resistant from heat when cooking by conveying the results of a test where olive oil was subject to a heat of 356 degrees Fahrenheit for 36 hours.
In 2015, Diabetes.co.uk published an article showcasing the benefits EV can provide for people at risk or currently living with type 2 diabetes. It is indicated, similar to past research, EV was linked to higher levels of insulin. In addition, lowered levels of LDL cholesterol were also linked to the study participants who were given EV.
The article concludes with an excellent point of emphasis:
“consuming extra virgin olive oil on its own is not going to provide the benefits observed during the study. Rather, it has to be consumed in the context of a balanced diet.”
The benefits of cooking with olive oil are extensive. You can use olive oil to pan sear salmon or bake a cake. Just make sure you’re watching the temperature!
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – High in Fat and High in Health
Extra virgin olive oil is widely accepted and agreed upon in the nutrition community to be an excellent dietary item. With its moderately high smoke point, cardiovascular benefits, genetic benefits, cancer prevention benefits, mental disorder preventive benefits, good taste benefits, and easy accessibility, olive oil is growing in popularity. The unrefined version of olive oil contains a wonderful balance of monounsaturated fats (omegas), minerals, vitamin K, and vitamin E.
Olive oil can truly be a tool to use in your quest for health and a delicious cooking decision when you make your morning eggs. Just think, how often do we get faced with a pleasant decision of forcing ourselves to change from something bad for us to something, not just better, but arguably more enjoyable? Drop the soybean and pick up a bottle of extra virgin olive oil! Your heart will thank you 🙂
Do your research and start taking care of your health BEFORE it becomes a problem. Olive oil may be the piece of the puzzle you’re missing.