This February, America is celebrating its 58th consecutive year of American Heart Month, which was originally started in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Over the years, people have found many ways to celebrate the importance of caring for your heart health. For instance, some people choose to wear red on the first Friday of the month to highlight the fact that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women.
Many people also choose to focus on improving their risk factors for heart disease that they can control. Quitting smoking, adding more physical activity to your day and eating healthier foods are all resolutions that you might have made at the beginning of the New Year, and you can use this month to help you keep momentum for staying on track with accomplishing each one.
In your efforts to eat healthier, you might have noticed that replacing other fats with olive oil keeps coming up as a recommendation for improving heart health. Knowing how to pick the best type of olive oil for your heart helps you to plan delicious meals that double as health-boosters for your cardiovascular system.
What Is Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
If you’ve ever stared at a grocery store shelf filled with different bottles of olive oil, then you might’ve felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of types that are available. Typically, olive oil is narrowed down into these four main categories:
- Light and extra light olive oil
- Regular, which is sometimes called pure
- Extra virgin
The easiest way to understand what designates olive oil as falling within the extra virgin category is to look at how manufacturers produce the different types. Each type of oil starts with fresh olives that are ground down into a paste. Then, the paste is pressed twice to remove as much of the oil as possible naturally. After that, the remaining paste goes through additional heat or chemical processing to remove the rest of the oil.
Extra virgin olive oil comes from the first pressing, which typically provides it with the lowest level of oleic acid. Virgin oil can also come from the first pressing, but it won’t meet the standards that are in place for it to be graded as extra virgin. Regular olive oil is treated with heat or chemicals and has a higher oleic acid level. If you see a bottle labeled as light or extra light, this means that regular olive oil has also been mixed with other types of oil.
Why Extra Virgin Olive Oil is Best for Heart Health
The reason why extra virgin olive oil is the best olive oil for heart health than other types all comes down to its purity. Since it isn’t mixed with other oils, you don’t have to worry about adding unhealthy fats to your diet. The cold-pressing process also helps the oil to retain more antioxidants, monounsaturated fats and other nutrients than the other types.
In addition, extra virgin olive oil contains higher levels of a special class of antioxidants called polyphenols, which have been known to help increase the levels of good, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Using extra virgin olive oil further protects your heart by increasing the levels of substances that help to prevent bad, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol from oxidizing. Since the oxidation of bad cholesterol can increase your risk of developing blood clots, doing what you can to prevent this from happening can help you to avoid having a heart attack or stroke.
How to Choose the Best Olive Oil
Despite the complicated process of manufacturing and labeling olive oil, you’ll often find that the quality can vary from one company to another. To achieve the highest level of heart health benefits, you’ll want to make sure that the extra virgin olive oil that you buy is made to fit stringent standards for purity. One of the most common recommendations that you’ll hear among olive oil connoisseurs is that you should try to purchase your bottles straight from the producer. Our first-press olive oils are produced directly on our family groves in California.
Keeping our manufacturing and bottling processes local helps us to keep a close watch on each step of turning our plump, juicy olives into the oil that makes its way into the bottle that you put in your kitchen. We’ve made it our mission to keep our products organic and Kosher, which fits perfectly into meeting the needs for a heart-healthy diet.
On top of making sure that your olive oil is free of contaminants and unwanted additional oils, you’ll want to make sure that you love the flavor. Your heart also benefits when you used infused oils that add flavors such as rosemary, cayenne pepper and basil to your food that make it easier to skip adding salt and other unhealthy ingredients.
Fall In Love with the Flavor of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Boosting your heart health will require making some hard changes such as exercising more and cutting out highly processed foods. Yet, this is one lifestyle change that you can look forward to loving this month. You can often find our products in local Farmer’s Markets throughout the year, or you can browse through our online shop to find the perfect bottle of extra virgin olive oil to infuse your food with flavor and heart-healthy antioxidants.