polyphenol-rich extra virgin olive oil or are refined olive oil and other vegetable oils as beneficial?”
A balanced diet is key
Nutritionists not involved in the new study point out that eating a healthy, balanced diet is more important than any one food.
It’s not just the olive oil that confers these health benefits, it’s likely what the olive oil travels with and/or adds flavor to, says Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies and public health emerita at New York University.
“Olive oil is part of the classic heart-healthy Mediterranean diet,” Nestle notes. This style of eating includes lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and lean protein, and is low in processed foods. “It’s never about one food, it’s really about dietary patterns.”
Olive oil has calories, and they can add up quickly, Nestle points out. There are about 120 calories in 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
This isn’t a lot of olive oil either, says Meghan McLarney, a dietitian at Nebraska Medicine in Omaha. “A typical salad at a restaurant has about 4 tablespoons of dressing.”
How to replace butter with olive oil in your diet
Replacing a fat is different from adding one to your diet, and there are easy ways to replace butter and other animal fats with olive oil, she notes.
“If a recipe calls for butter, cut out half of the butter and replace it with olive oil,” McLarney suggests. “This blend is a great way of transitioning and introducing a healthier fat but keeping the flavor.”
Swapping out butter or margarine for olive oil or infused olive oil can make a great flavoring on whole grains, vegetables and proteins. “You can bake with olive oil, too,” she adds.