Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which may help reduce one’s risk of heart disease. MUFAs lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and raise HDL (“good”) blood cholesterol. Olive oil is often sold as “virgin” or “extra virgin.” Extra-virgin olive oil has less acid and a fruitier flavor and stronger aroma than pure or virgin olive oil, so a little goes a long way. Olive oil labeled as “light” is often lighter in hue or flavor, but it’s not lighter in calories.
How should you use it? “Use olive oil in place of saturated fat, such as butter,” suggests Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson Angela Ginn, RD, LDN, CDE. “Dip bread [in it], use it in cakes, sauté, even fry vegetables and meat. But beware the smoking point is not very high so frying at high temperatures will cause your food to brown quickly.”