Olive Oil: The Benefits and 5 Alternative Ways to Use It
It’s something that’s in people’s kitchens around the world, but how much do you know about olive oil? If you’re in the Mediterranean and stick to the namesake diet, chances are you know a thing or two. Still, there’s so much misinformation out there on olive oil, so this article pools some trusted resources to talk about the benefits and drawbacks of olive oil in your diet, alongside the different types and some alternative ways to use it around your house.
Let’s get started with the different types of Olive Oil:
Olive oil is extracted from olives, the fruit of the olive tree. In general, there are three types: refined, virgin, and extra virgin (these can be broken down even further, but let’s stick to three for the sake of brevity).
Refined olive oil (aka “pure” olive oil”) is the oil obtained from removing the flaws, which is done when the oil is not fit for human consumption, is too acidic (over 3.3%), or has an off-taste. Refined oil has a rather bland taste, and is best used in baking.
On the unrefined end of the spectrum, there’s virgin and extra virgin olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is the highest grade of olive oil as it’s subject to no chemical treatment and maintains the highest degree of antioxidants, flavor, and has the lowest amount of acidity at no greater than 0.8%.
In comparison, Virgin olive oil is much like extra virgin, except it cannot have higher than 2% acidity. Virgin olive oil is still unrefined and thus has enough flavor to enjoy uncooked.
All this said, keep in mind that the quality of olive oil can also be determined by where it’s produced, the type of olive used, harvesting method, time of harvest, processing technique, storage methods, and environmental factors.
For more information on how your favorite foods are produced, check out this article on the commercial production of fruits and vegetables.
So, now that we know all about the three main types of Olive Oil, let’s dive into the health benefits of Extra Virgin Oil:
According to Healthline, olive oil is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats (which have been linked to reducing inflammation and fighting cancerous genes), is loaded with antioxidants that help to lower your risk of heart disease, and according to a study, is associated with a lowered risk of stroke.
Additionally, while consuming an excess amount of fat tends to cause weight gain, a study of over 7000 participants concluded that consuming extra virgin olive oil in moderation did not cause weight gain in its subjects, and even lowers the risk of Type 2 diabetes by over 40%.
Check out this article for more great foods that help reduce inflammation!
So, with all those pros to consuming olive oil, what are the cons?
Honestly, this is where the science gets a little murky. Like I said above, there is a lot of misinformation out there regarding olive oil, but one thing that most articles can agree on is that because olive oil is high in kilojoules (calories), it should be used in moderation and as part of a balanced diet.
Also, when cooked at high temperatures, olive oil can lose much of its nutritional value and taste.
Now that we’ve established the pros and cons of using olive oil in your diet, let’s move on to my favorite alternative ways to use it!
5 Alternative Ways to Use Olive Oil
Shaving Cream Substitute & Moisturizer
Out of moisturizer or shaving cream? Then extra virgin olive oil to the rescue! Rub some oil on the area you’d like and then, because olive oil is heavy oil and won’t soak in easily, gently dab the excess with a cloth.
However, keep in mind to use olive oil in moderation when using it topically as it is still oil and can clog pores. Also, I don’t recommend using olive oil on babies, or if you have dermatitis or sensitive skin. If you’re unsure if you’re sensitive to using olive oil topically, then do a patch test first.
Speaking of using olive oil topically, if you find that you have no sensitivities to it, it makes a great makeup remover and is an excellent natural substitute for harsher make-up removing chemicals on the market.
Protect Wooden Kitchen Utensils
Do you have wooden utensils in your kitchen that tend to dry out and bend over time? Then buff them up with some olive oil! Not only will olive oil keep your wood fresh and moisturized, but it will also give your utensils longer life.
Remove Labels and Stickers
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve painstakingly tried to remove stickers off of furniture or labels off of bottles with nothing but soap and water. Well, little did I know that an easier answer was hiding in my kitchen the whole time — you guessed it, olive oil! A little dab of olive oil is pure magic when trying to remove labels off of bottles and old stickers off of furniture.
Free a Stuck Zipper
Granted, this doesn’t apply to just olive oil but to all oils, but if you have a zipper that is stuck in place, put a little oil on it, work it a bit, and watch the zipper come free.
I hope you enjoyed this article all about olive oil! I only scratched the surface on the benefits and all the ways you can use it, but I hope this was a great resource for why olive oil is an excellent part of a healthy lifestyle. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to put them in the comment section below!