Olive oil is one of the main ingredients in the Mediterranean diet, a healthy eating plan that has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases. Read all about the health benefits of olive oil and ways that you can incorporate it into your diet.
Olive Oil from Spain
First, let me give you a little background on olive oil. Did you know that Spain is the largest producer of olive oil in the world? Spain provides around 50% of all the olive oil produced worldwide and is the largest exporter of organic extra virgin olive oil to the USA. Spain has taken great strides in developing and promoting the quality of its olive oils and they invest more in R & D than all of the other olive oil-producing countries combined. With more than 260 different olive varieties, Olive Oils from Spain have a unique range of flavors, aromas, and textures. Some of the world’s best chefs cook with Olive Oils from Spain, including José Andrés. I’ve actually had the good fortune of dining at his amazing restaurant The Bazaar in both Beverly Hills as well as South Beach, and it’s no wonder he has such a stellar reputation!
Fat is not the enemy
It’s interesting how diet advice changes over the years as new research emerges. For years, we were taught to follow a low-fat diet if we wanted to lose weight. Fat was the enemy and we should avoid it at all costs. Now, we know that we need fat in our diets and it actually plays an important role in our health. The key is not cutting out all fat, but rather eating the right types of fat. Focus on eating unsaturated fats like those found in foods like extra virgin olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, and cold water fish. Try to limit the amount of saturated fats in your diet. You should also limit the amount of trans-fats, which are unhealthy manmade fat found in many packaged foods. Saturated and trans fats can increase your risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and some cancers.
Extra virgin olive oil, on the other hand, is composed of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, especially oleic acid. These fats help lower your risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels and normalizing blood clotting. They also help regulate your blood sugar. Extra virgin olive oil also contains many other powerful compounds like antioxidants, polyphenols, anti-inflammatories, and vitamin E, which have many important health benefits and can help prevent chronic diseases.
The Mediterranean Diet
How to Incorporate Olive Oil into your diet
So how can you incorporate olive oil into your home cooking to reap all of its health benefits? Here are just a few ways:
Grilled Garlic Shrimp Skewers with Parsley Oil
Then, I thread the shrimp onto skewers, alternating with lemon slices, and toss the skewers on the grill.
The shrimp cook in a matter of minutes and the lemons get a nice char. To drizzle over the skewers, I also make vibrant, green herb oil by blending olive oil with fresh parsley.
I like to arrange the skewers on a serving platter and drizzle some of the parsley oil on top. Tell your guests to squeeze the charred lemon on the shrimp for an extra punch of flavor before digging in!
More Mediterranean Diet Recipes
- Blueberry Farro Salad
- Greek Feta Shrimp Skillet
- Mediterranean Pasta
- Olive and Sundried Tomato Crusted Fish
- Barley Salad with Roasted Carrots and Chickpeas
- Spanish Garlic Shrimp (Gambas Al Ajillo)