Is Extra Virgin Olive Oil Healthier than Regular Olive Oil?

Many people regard olive oil as a healthy cooking oil, but is extra virgin olive oil better than ordinary olive oil?

There are many types of olive oil in supermarkets. Common terms include virgin, extra virgin, cold pressed, light, and pure. These words refer to the process used to produce olive oil, with extra virgin olive oil being the least processed. When manufacturers process refined olive oil, they chemically clean it before heating it. These procedures extend the shelf life and lighten the flavor of the olive oil, making it suitable for use in dishes.

But processing removes polyphenols from olives, which are antioxidants that have health benefits. In addition, refined olive oil removes not only polyphenols but also other vitamins and natural substances. Although some olive oils have been processed, their calorie and fat content have not changed, that is, all types of olive oil contain beneficial fats, especially monosaturated fats (Omega 9), which provide 120 calories per tablespoon.

Because of the least amount of processing, extra virgin olive oil has the highest polyphenol content. But after all, olive oil is only edible oil, and the amount of food eaten every day is not much, so is higher polyphenol content equal to more beneficial?

An interesting recent study on olive oil looked at the Mediterranean diet’s role in diabetes and related metabolic diseases, stabilizing blood sugar and improving inflammation. Olive oil is a staple of the Mediterranean diet, so the researchers wanted to see if extra-virgin olive oil was actually healthier than regular olive oil.

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Spanish researchers recruited 91 obese and prediabetic patients and randomly assigned them to their main cooking oil. The researchers provided participants with the oils, but did not instruct them how or how much to eat. The participants ate their allotted cooking oil for 30 days and made no specific changes in lifestyle or physical activity. After 30 days, there will be a washout period of 15 days, and then another cooking oil will be switched for another 30 days.

During the study, the researchers measured the following indices: blood levels of anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory cytokines, “oxidative stress” measurements, body weight and measures of metabolic status, including fasting blood glucose, insulin, A1C and fatty acid profile.

The results showed that switching from regular processed olive oil to extra virgin olive oil improved markers of “oxidative stress” and inflammation, significantly reduced inflammatory cytokines, and increased total antioxidant quality. In addition, there was a reduction in body weight when eating the two types of olive oil, but the weight loss was more significant in the group eating extra virgin olive oil.

Although the number of people involved in this study is small, it will be determined in a larger study in the future. However, there is solid evidence that extra virgin olive oil is higher in antioxidant polyphenols. If the price of the two is similar at the time of purchase, you may wish to choose extra virgin olive oil. (This column is published every Friday)

Written by: Zeng Xinxin Registered Dietitian, Spokesperson, Writer. Facebook Page: Gloria Tsang

Column Name: What Xinxin Eats

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2023-06-02 06:02:30

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