Eat Smarter

Switch to olive oil

Just a teaspoon of olive oil a day is all you need. That is what Harvard nutritionists said when reporting their research findings on the benefits of olive oil in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. They found that this small amount is associated with a 12 per cent reduced risk of death from all causes, compared with people who rarely or never consumed olive oil.

A little more was even better. Consuming just half a tablespoon (7 grams) or more daily was associated with:

  • a 29 per cent reduced risk of early death from neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease
  • a 19 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality
  • a 17 per cent lower death risk from cancer
  • an 18 per cent lower death risk from respiratory disease.

Why is olive oil so good for us?

Olive oil contains mainly monounsaturated fatty acids (MLFAs). These are known to reduce inflammation in the body – which is associated with diseases ranging from heart disease and Alzheimer’s to cancer and type 2 diabetes. MLFAs can also lower your unhealthy cholesterol levels.

Olive oil is also packed with antioxidants and polyphenols, plant compounds that benefit your health and help fight disease.

Extra virgin oil contains more of the beneficial chemicals than virgin or regular, as it’s the least processed. It’s also the most expensive, so save it for drizzling on salads and vegetables, and for adding to mashed potatoes instead of butter.