Olive Oil for Health & Wellness
by Natalie Von Bertouch
- Palmer's Brand Partner
- Accredited Practicing Dietitian
- Leadership & Wellness Guest Speaker
- Former Australian Netball Captain
Olive oil has been an essential cooking ingredient for generations, even before we were aware of how beneficial it is for our health.
Packed full of antioxidants, good fats and anti-inflammatory properties, olive oil can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. It also helps boost immunity and with weight management - so it is no wonder we are all searching for new ways to include olive oil in our diet.
The Mediterranean style of eating is ‘on trend’ for this very reason. Olive oil is the main source of fat in the Mediterranean diet, and unlike many diet trends, this eating regime is backed by solid research that shows just how good it this way of eating is for our overall health and wellbeing.
The catch? Not all olive oil is made equal.
What type of Olive Oil should I choose?
Cold pressed extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is best! EVOO is made from the fresh juice squeezed directly from the olive fruit, meaning it’s natural and unrefined.
Other styles of olive oils (such as light olive oil or olive oil blends) are extracted using chemicals or heat and therefore lose some of the ‘goodness’ during processing. Whilst the fat composition of these oils are the same, they lack the natural antioxidants EVOO boasts.
Cooking with EVOO.
Although at times cooking with EVOO has been given a bad rap, rest assured that it is a safe, stable and flavoursome option. Olive oil can also be used straight from the bottle to top salads or roasted veggies.
What is the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet is a whole food, plant focused way of eating. Here is a simple guide on how to follow a Mediterranean style of eating.
1. Every meal should be based on fruits, vegetables, grains (mostly wholegrain), olive oil, beans, nuts, legumes, seeds, herbs and spices. Include these foods daily
2. Include fish and seafood twice a week
3. Choose moderate portions of dairy foods, eggs and occasionally poultry. Include these foods daily or at least weekly
4. Red meat and sweets are consumed less often
5. Drink plenty of water
6. Avoid sugar-sweetened drinks
7. Limit or avoid processed or refined foods
8. Be active and enjoy sharing food with others
While these may be the basic principles of the diet, by no means are they hard and fast rules. A wide variety of plant-based foods is key here.
Stuffed Red Capsicums
4 red capsicums, seeds removed, and halved
400g tin lentils, rinsed and drained
1 punnet cherry tomatoes, diced
1 zucchini, grated
2 spring onions, sliced finely
¼ cup pitted olives, sliced
100g feta, crumbled
1 cup baby spinach, chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
¼ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 lemon, juiced
2 Tbsp olive oil
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees fan forced. Place capsicums on oven tray lined with baking paper. Roast cut side up for 10 minutes
- Whilst cooking mix all ingredients in a bowl, add juice of lemon and olive oil. Mix well. Season with pepper to taste
- Divide mixture amongst capsicums and roast for a further 15 minutes or until capsicum is tender