At this point I’m sure you’re well aware of the health perks of oil, particularly olive oil, but it turns out this tasty fat is good for more than just heart health. Did you know olives and olive oil are a good source of vitamin E and contain vitamins A and K, iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium? They're also a great source of amino acids! Thanks to all the vitamins and minerals, olives, and their oil, are great for eye, skin, bone, and cell health as well as immune function.
Read on for a few fun facts about olives and olive oil, and a little more about how consuming these good for you foods can improve your health according to research compiled by the International Olive Council. Plus, steal my favorite ways to use the healthy ingredients below.
Olive Oil Benefits and Fun Facts
- The olive is made up of 18 to 28 percent oil
- Approximately 75 percent of that oil is heart healthy monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA)
- Olive oil facilitates overall digestion and absorption of nutrients, including crucial fat-soluble vitamins (one of the reasons fat free salad dressings are really doing your body a disservice)
- Olive oil is naturally cholesterol-, sodium- and carbohydrate-free
- While most people think deep green olive oil indicates a higher quality, color is not a factor. Greener oils comes from green olives (black olives yield pale oil)
- Despite common beliefs, olive oil’s smoke point (410 degrees Fahrenheit) is high enough to withstand stir-frying. Regular olive oil, not extra virgin, is best for frying thanks to its high oleic acid (a MUFA) content
- 98 percent of the world’s olive oil production comes from just 17 countries
- In folk medicine, olive oil has been used for every thing from reducing muscle aches and hangovers, to use as an aphrodisiac, laxative, and sedative—talk about versatile!
- Olive oil coats, rather than penetrates, so foods fried in olive oil are less greasy than foods dried in other oil varieties
- When stored in a cool, dark place, olive oil can keep for two years or more
Awesome uses for olive oil (and olives). Sure you can make your own dressing but there’s so much more!
- Cut cholesterol in your favorite recipes by substituting one egg white plus a teaspoon of olive oil for one whole egg
- Extend the life of your cakes by using olive oil. Thanks to the vitamin E, olive oil extends the freshness of baked goods
- Skip croutons and bacon bits on salad and use olives for a salty topping to cut empty calories and get a fiber boost
- Ditch calorie-laden gravies and tartar sauce and top fish or chicken with a simple olive tapenade
- Bye bye butter. Use olive oil on your morning toast, in baked or mashed potatoes, or drizzle on corn on the cob instead of butter
What are your favorite ways to use olive oil?
As an editor at SHAPE I have the chance to learn about the healthiest ways to cook, eat, and live from all sorts of experts but I’m also a single girl living in NYC with a busy schedule, active social life, and chocolate cravings. I’m here to share what works for me—and where I need a little help from you.