Heart-Healthy Staple

Olives in a dish

Out of all your staple items, which one do you think is heart-healthy? Ketchup? Try again…how about olive oil? Olive oil is a great example of one of the main sources of monounsaturated fatty acids, in other words a good heart-healthy fat. For more information regarding heart-healthy fats please see my post The F Word. Now the tricky part is figuring out how to use it.

Apparently, we use three times as much olive oil today as we did 20 years ago, yet quality and labeling standards were set in 1948! So, to help you decide when to use what, have a look at these guidelines:

Olive oil - this oil will have a light or neutral flavor; therefore it’s best used for cooking. When shopping look for the bottle that contains the light yellow coloured oil.

Virgin – this oil will have a basic flavor and aroma with no extra flavor hints, such as apple. Apparently, this oil should be used in recipes when the olive flavor is important but isn’t the main feature, such as in pesto. Look for the bottle that contains a yellow to green coloured oil (sounds appetizing).

Lastly, extra virgin – this oil may have hints of apple, grass, nuts, or tomato; therefore, it would be best when you want a pure olive-oil flavor, such as on salads or vegetables. This oil is also yellow to green in colour.

As a side note – unlike wine, olive oil doesn’t improve with age and will expire. Keep cooking and eating!

Image courtesy of KathrynW1