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The health benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil!

Olive oil is an essential part of the Mediterranean diet for thousands of years and its nutritional value and benefits in overall health cannot be emphasized enough! There are different types of olive oil, but extra virgin olive oil may be the healthiest as it reduces heart disease and damage from free radicals and acts preventatively against breast and colon cancer. 

Extra virgin olive oil is olive oil from the first pressing of the olives. Chemically, extra virgin olive oil contains less than 0.8% acidity, and is judged to have a superior taste and it contains 60 calories per teaspoon. All of the calories in olive oil come from fat, with 7 grams of total fat per teaspoon and one gram of the fat in each teaspoon of olive oil is saturated fat. The fatty acids, like oleic acid, and antioxidant compounds in extra virgin olive oil may do more than just battle high levels of bad cholesterol. According to the George Mateljan Foundation, reduced rates of breast cancer, colon cancer, insulin sensitivity and bone loss may all be related to consumption of olive oil. The antioxidant polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil may help to protect the heart by reducing damage from free radicals and plaque build-up in the arteries, and by acting as an anti-inflammatory. 

According to Livestrong.org, olive oil contains vitamins E and K in which are both important for cardiovascular health. Vitamin E is necessary to form red blood cells, and vitamin K is essential for normal blood clotting. Just 100g of olive oil contains 14mg of vitamin E and 62mcg of vitamin K which means about 7 tbsp. of olive oil provides 93 percent of the daily recommended allowance, or RDA, of vitamin E and 59 percent of the RDA for vitamin K. Olive oil contains small amounts of the minerals iron, calcium, potassium and sodium. These minerals have several functions, among them supporting the cardiovascular system, and the red blood cells' ability to carry oxygen to all cells in your body. Calcium, potassium and sodium are electrolytes, which carry electrical charges that help the nerves and muscles function. Your body depends on these minerals, especially potassium, to keep your heart beating regularly.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends eating 2 tbsp., or 23g, of olive oil daily to reduce your risk of heart disease. 

 

photo By Smabs Sputzer

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