Some further questions we have been asked about Morocco Gold extra virgin olive oil at our tasting events have come from some extremely knowledgeable fitness and wellbeing enthusiasts who are interested to know the relationship between olive oil and exercise. As passionate about keeping in physical and mental shape as well as their love of great food they are interested in the benefits of extra virgin olive oil and fitness.
They love to try out new clean eating or healthy recipes and to experiment with food. They do also love to know exactly what it is in their food that makes it special.
There are many articles that discuss the well-known health benefits of extra virgin olive oil including:
- Reducing risk of cardiovascular diseases
- Having a beneficial effect on ulcers and gastritis
- Maintaining the digestive tract in good health.
- Helping to reduce blood pressure
- Helping control healthy cholesterol levels
- Easing or preventing diabetes
- Lessening the severity of osteoporosis
Whilst many of these health benefits of extra virgin olive oil combat conditions that come as part of the natural ageing process, there are also clear benefits for people of all ages who are passionate about exercise and keeping fit as part of their lifestyle choices.
According to sports dietitians Kelly Jones, M.S., R.D. and Lori Nedescu, M.S., R.D.N. olive oil is one of the healthiest oils because of its heart-healthy fats.
Fat is a nutrient with important functions. It is a rich source of energy, providing more than double that of either carbohydrate or protein. It is a carrier for the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. It provides the essential fatty acids, linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid, which are polyunsaturated.
Not all Fats are the Same
Fats are made up of fatty acids and glycerol. A fatty acid consists of a chain of carbon atoms, where each carbon atom in the chain is attached to hydrogen atoms. The number of hydrogen atoms per carbon atom determines whether the fatty acid is saturated or unsaturated.
If a fatty acid has all of the hydrogen atoms it can hold (2 per carbon atom in the chain) and all of the carbon atoms in the chain are linked by single bonds, it is described as saturated.
Saturated fats are usually solid or semi-solid at room temperature and are strongly associated with raised blood cholesterol which is why nutritionists recommend eating them as little as possible. Lard, butter, hard cheeses, whole milk, animal fats and palm and coconut oils – plus products containing them – all contain high levels of saturated fat.
If a pair of carbon atoms in the fatty acid chain is linked by a double bond instead of a single bond, the fatty acid is described as monounsaturated. Fats rich in monounsaturates tend to be liquid at room temperature. Olive Oil is one of the richest sources of monounsaturated fatty acids.
Monounsaturated fats—omega-6s in the case of olive oil—are important because they help boost heart health. This is important for helping prevent health issues such as cardiovascular disease or stroke.
These contain more than one double bond and are liquid at room temperature. The main sources are vegetable oils, such as sunflower oil, corn oil and rapeseed, but not tropical oils such as coconut, palm and palm kernel oils.
Trans fats are created when a hydrogenation process is applied to solidify oil for use in margarines or to improve a product’s shelf life. This processing causes trans fats to act like saturated fats.
What Is In 1 Tablespoon Of Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
One serving or 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil contains the following:
- 120 calories
- 10 grams of monounsaturated fat
- 2 grams of saturated fat
- 2 grams of polyunsaturated fat
- 1.9 milligrams of vitamin E (10 percent of Daily Value)
- 8.1 micrograms of vitamin K (10 percent of DV)
Athletes like cyclists, long distance runners, tennis players and other high-performance sports and exercise enthusiasts also stress their heart out more than the average person, according to Jones, so it’s beneficial to add nutrients to your diet that protect it. Monounsaturated fats are also anti-inflammatory, which helps with muscle recovery. Working out can cause micro-tears in your muscles, which can lead to inflammation, muscle pain, and soreness, but anti-inflammatories can help calm that reaction.
Plus, vitamin E is an antioxidant that the majority of Americans (and the rest of us) don’t get enough of, Jones says. This nutrient helps boost your immune system and protect your body against heart disease and certain types of cancer. In addition, antioxidants protect your cells against damage, especially those in your muscles and lungs, which are extremely important when it comes to your performance on the bike.
Vitamin K is important for absorbing fats like the monounsaturated ones in olive oil. If you don’t get enough of this vitamin, your body will have trouble using it effectively.
“When you’re doing endurance exercise, you need healthy fats to fuel your body,” Dr Jones says. “One quarter of your calories should come from fat, and I recommend including [fats] in every meal and snack in small amounts.” This will help you feel satiated as the day goes on.
“Extra-virgin olive oil is the closest to nature and the least refined,” Jones says. “The more refined your olive oil is, that’s where you’re not sure how it’s been processed. It could be treated with chemicals or treated with high heat, which may damage its antioxidants.”
So, imagine your body is a high-performance engine. Keeping it topped up with natures highest performing ‘engine oil’ will ensure smooth performance for decades to come.