By Gabe Sanders Ph.D., NSCA-CSCS
What kind of cooking oil or grease do you use when preparing food? Do you use, vegetable oil, processed oil such as Crisco, butter, animal fat, or grease spray?
Olive oil is a beneficial nutrient
Perhaps, it may be best if you avoid those oils and focus more on olive oil when cooking food. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat and contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. In all, olive oil is a beneficial nutrient to maintain heart health, enhance your metabolism, optimize cellular health, and enhance brain function and it provides optimal human growth throughout the aging process.
Olive oil and exercise
Interestingly, new research suggests the combination of olive oil and exercise can improve cardiovascular disease risk factors and overall body fat.
In a research study, researchers assessed high (25 grams daily), low (10 grams daily) and no olive oil group while all subjects participated in the same 10 exercises three times per week for 12 weeks. After 12 weeks, the high consumption olive oil group (relative to the no consumption olive oil group) experienced significant reductions in body fat and improvements in cardiovascular-related factors such as triglycerides, high-density lipoproteins (HDL), low-density lipoproteins (LDL), and total cholesterol.
In terms of physical activity in the study, the participants exercised for 70 minutes each exercise day. The current recommendations are to exercise most, if not every day for 30-60 minutes with 2-3 days of strength training. While the aforementioned study highlighted the importance of olive oil, the consumption of most natural oils is far superior to butter, lard, and other processed fats.
Recommended ways to cook with olive oil
Here are a few recommended ways to cook or prepare food with olive oil and when possible, consume it raw as it may be more nutritious:
- Use olive oil when cooking or frying eggs for breakfast.
- Adding olive oil when browning beef or grilling red meat.
- Use olive oil as the base of any marinade for chicken, pork, or any meat.
- Make salad dressings out of olive oil and seasonings.
- Add olive oil to cooked meats and fishes to enhance the flavor.
- Use olive oil-based dips to enjoy with vegetables like carrots, celery, and broccoli.
** For individualized diet regimen and meal plans, consult with a nutritionist or registered dietitian
Kim, Kyong-Tae, and Ki-Hyuk Lee. “Influence of Extra Virgin Olive Oil Supplement and Combined Exercise on Health-Related Physical Fitness, Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors, and Bone Density in Obese Elementary Students.” Exercise Science1 (2020): 60-70.
Gorzynik-Debicka, Monika, et al. “Potential health benefits of olive oil and plant polyphenols.” International journal of molecular sciences3 (2018): 686.
Nocella, Cristina, et al. “Extra virgin olive oil and cardiovascular diseases: Benefits for human health.” Endocrine, Metabolic & Immune Disorders-Drug Targets (Formerly Current Drug Targets-Immune, Endocrine & Metabolic Disorders)1 (2018): 4-13.
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