Healthy Hollywood: Ask Keri Glassman — Is Extra Virgin Olive Oil Better For You?

Nutritionist Keri Glassman, who regularly shares her expertise on Access Hollywood and Access Hollywood Live, is answering your nutrition, diet, and health questions.

Want to know which foods to curb sugar cravings? Or, what should you eat before a workout? Ask Keri anything, HERE!

This week’s question…

“Is extra virgin olive oil less caloric or better for you?” – Bev, West Orange, N.J.

Keri says…

The name says it all. Olive oil is the pure oil that comes from the fruit of an olive tree (yes, olives are a fruit!). It is obtained by grinding whole olives and extracting the oil via mechanical or chemical means. The flavor of the oil varies depending on the type of olive, climate, soil and maturity of the fruit.

Extra virgin, cold-pressed, and mechanical pressed olive oils… so many choices! With the large variety of olive oils out there, it is easy to get a little confused.

Extra-virgin olive oil is considered the highest quality, and is obtained from the first pressing of the olives. Cold-pressed and mechanical pressed oils refer to the processes used in making oil. Mechanical expeller pressing applies pressure to the olive by using rollers to extract the oil. You won’t see this term on the label. The cold-press process is a gentler method of pressing that does not use much heat to extract the oil, hence the “cold” press. Heat may destroy some of the phytonutrient compounds naturally found in the oil, so the lower the heat, the better. Therefore, cold pressed is the way to go.

Naturally, you must be wondering if one type is better for you. It may come as a surprise, but the number of calories in all varieties of olive oil is about the same. One tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil contains the same 120 calories as any other olive oil. It may seem like a calorie-catastrophe, but before you lock your oil away in your cabinet forever, it is important to understand that olive oil is a healthy, monounsaturated type of fat, shown to improve blood cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of heart disease, and even burn belly fat. I am a big fan of healthy fat! And the best part is, a little bit goes a long way. Because olive oil is so flavorful, just a drizzle (even as small as a teaspoon) can do your dish wonders.

Now that you’re practically an olive oil aficionado, it’s time to hit the grocery aisle and pick a bottle. Cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil is my olive oil of choice, but I understand that this may come with a heavy price tag. There’s no doubt that it is more expensive than other types of olive oils, but since you only need a splash here and there to get the full effect, there’s no need to splurge on the industrial size bottle. A small bottle will keep you drizzling away happily, and won’t burn a hole in your wallet.

Bottom line: for a healthy dose of fat and flavor, a little cold-pressed EVOO may just save the day.

-- Terri MacLeod & Keri Glassman

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