A hectic routine, lack of rest and imbalanced diet can affect our heart in a negative way. And when heart doesn’t function properly, the whole body suffers. Body can stay healthy only as long as blood is being properly circulated to its every cell. Without proper diet, especially with that containing high fat, one can run high on the risk of damaging his heart. However, you might not know that there are several fats which are actually healthy for our heart! Yes! We normally perceive fats to be the greatest enemy of heart, however, you need to make your concept clear that fats have several categories and not all of them are harmful.
Fats can be categorized as unhealthy dietary fats containing saturated and trans fats, and the healthy dietary fats which are composed of monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. These healthy fats are needed by our body as part of balanced diet, and the unhealthy fats need to be avoided.
Olive Oil for Healthy Heart
One of the most useful sources of healthy dietary fats is olive oil. Mediterranean basin is rich in olive crop from which olive oil is extracted. So it is used a lot in Mediterranean diet. The fats contained in American food items like butter, mayonnaise and cheese are extremely unhealthy. This is one of the reasons why cardiovascular failure is more common in America than in Mediterranean countries. However, awareness about the use of healthy fats has increased the use of olive oil in America. Olive oil has many benefits along with side effects associated with its improper use. Olive oil can be used both for cooking and seasoning. Among various types of olive oils available in market, the extra virgin is the best one, especially for those who are keen to lower cholesterol level so use olive oil for healthy heart.
Chemical Constituents of Olive Oil;
To give you an idea how olive oil helps control cholesterol level, look at the list of its constituents;
- Fatty acids
- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
- Free fatty acids
Olive oil is mostly composed of triacylglycerol molecules with different types of fatty acids attached with it e.g. linolenic acid, linoleic acid, stearic acid, palmitic acid and oleic acid. Oleic acid is the most abundant among them and constitutes 55 to 85% of olive oil. It is a monounsaturated fatty acid which is a healthy dietary fat. Hence olive oil’s consumption leads to inclusion of healthy fat in the body.
Olive Oil for Healthy Heart
Does Olive Oil Reduce Cholesterol?
As we noticed above, olive oil’s composition is such that the healthy fatty acids exceed the unhealthy fatty acids. Due to high cholesterol level, the harmful fats can accumulate in coronary arteries which supply blood to the heart, thus resulting in their blockage. In this situation, heart would have to exert more in order to provide blood to every cell. This puts pressure on arteries, resulting in hypertension i.e. high blood pressure and some serious heart diseases.
Olive oil in your diet helps in reducing your cholesterol level. The monounsaturated fatty acids in olive oil are useful in reducing overall cholesterol level and the proportion of low density lipoprotein in body. Moreover, unlike polyunsaturated fatty acids, the monounsaturated fatty acids do not lower the level of high density lipoproteins which are suitable for our body. So we can say, olive oil has dual effects of increasing proportion of healthy fats and decreasing the proportion of unwanted unhealthy fats from body. However, one must keep in mind that if olive oil is used with items containing saturated fats, it would not help in reducing bad fat content. So in order to get the most out of the olive oil, it needs to replace unhealthy fat.
The usefulness of olive oil for healthy heart can be judged from the fact that Food and Drug Administration has permitted the olive oil producers to mention on the label that it is proved through some evidence that the use of two spoons olive oil daily can help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease because of the presence of monounsaturated fat in it.
Despite all the above mentioned benefits, you need to keep in mind that olive oil does contain a small amount of calories as are also found in other oils. So you need to be careful about the quantity you use. If you are prone to coronary artery disease due to high fats, it would be a wise decision to replace unhealthy fats with healthy dietary fats by using use olive oil for healthy heart.