The Mediterranean diet emphasizes fresh vegetables, nuts, and healthy fats, particularly olive oil, while downplaying processed foods.
This combination is undoubtedly part of its many health benefits, which includes the reversal of metabolic syndrome, improving body composition, and normalizing your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Extra virgin olive oil is clearly one of the “good fats” that should be included in your diet. Just keep in mind that it should not be used to cook with, as it is highly susceptible to oxidative damage when heated. Instead, it should be added cold to salads and other dishes.
Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat whose health benefits stem from it being unrefined and unheated. It also contains vitamin E and A, chlorophyll, magnesium, squalene, and a host of other cardio-protective nutrients.
In addition, it doesn’t upset the critical omega 6:3 ratio, as most of the fatty acids in olive oil are actually omega-9.
Studies have shown that extra virgin olive oil can reduce some cancers, reduce LDL cholesterol levels, and improve rheumatoid arthritis; the same or similar benefits touted by the Mediterranean diet.
Recent research also suggests a Mediterranean-style diet rich in nuts and olive oil can help boost memory and cognition in older adults.1,2