How many carbs in olive oil?

carbs in olive oil

I recently had a big “ah-ha” moment with a client.

She and her husband love to enjoy stovetop popcorn and Netflix each evening before bed.  She left the popping to her self-proclaimed “popping pro husband (say that 10 times fast).” He had the corn popping touch and this was a tradition they truly looked forward to.

She made the assumption that a simple tablespoon of oil was being used to pop their popcorn.  After wandering near her husband who was about to pour the popcorn into the pan one evening, she was shocked to find almost ½ cup! WHOA!

The experience evolved into some fantastic discussion about the following: was olive oild a healthy fat or not, can too much of a great thing sabotage progress? And what is really in that oil anyway?

Oily Confusion

Olive oil can be a bit confusing…there are so many different kinds out there. Virgin, extra virgin, refined and many more. Olive oils from different countries, organic, conventional — so many dang choices. Then, of course, there is the confusion about fat. Isn’t fat bad for you? Won’t it make you fat? By the end of this article, you will have a clear understanding of the types of oils used for cooking, their benefits, their drawbacks, and some bonus recipes too!

First off, your body needs fat

Don’t be scared of fat.  Your body needs it, wants it, craves it, and loves it. The good fat that is (but more on that in a moment). So what does fat do for your body? Fat is a major source of energy and is the most energy dense macronutrient coming in at 9 calories per gram of fat. Fat can keep you full for a long time. It can also help balance hormones, form cell membranes, plus transport fat-soluble vitamins like A, E and K. Fat has been shown to reduce levels of ghrelin, which is the hunger hormone responsible for high satiety and lowered cravings.

The human body is capable of producing all the fatty acids it needs except for two. The body needs omega-6 fatty acids such as linoleic acid (LA), gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and arachidonic acid (AA). You also need to take in omega-3 fatty acids via diets such as alpha-linoleic (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). They are called essential fatty acids and can only be obtained through diet or supplementation.  

This is a a big part of overal health and something I focus on in my Feel Amazing Naked program.  Click here to learn more about it!

Why do we need them?

These acids are needed for growth and repair and to help make other fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in foods such as cold water high fat fish, hemp seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and avocados. Omega-6 fatty acids can be found in pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, grapeseed oil, flax seeds, and pistachios.

One thing to keep in mind is you want to get a good balance of both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Currently, in North America and Western Europe, the consumption of omega-6 fatty acids is much higher. That is due to the high intake of processed foods that contain high levels of oils with omega-6 fatty acids. To better balance, the intake of these acids, focus on more whole foods and lots of variety.

What are “good fats”?

As mentioned above your body needs good fats. What are good fats you ask? Our body likes fats that occur naturally in different types of foods. Some of these foods include nuts, avocados, eggs, fatty fish, and olives. These foods mostly contain unsaturated fats which are the naturally occurring fats. There are different types of unsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats have been shown to improve blood cholesterol levels and help with insulin levels and blood sugar control which is beneficial to those with type 2 diabetes (we…and everybody too).

Not all fats are created equal

However, not all fat is good fat. Man-made fats such as trans fat, also known as trans-fatty acids, are the ones you want to avoid. Trans fats are made by the chemical process of hydrogenation of oils. This means they take an unsaturated fat and bubble hydrogen ions through it until it is solid at room temperature. They raise LDL, which is the “bad” cholesterol and can lower HDL which is considered the “good” cholesterol. High LDL cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease, which is one of the leading killers of both men and women.  

Some products such as meat and dairy contain small amounts of naturally occurring trans fats. However, manufacturers use oils containing trans fats in many products to increase the shelf life of foods. Restaurants use trans-fat-containing oils for frying because it lasts longer and does not have to be changed as much.  

Trans fats can be found in conventionally produced baked goods, canned frosting, donuts, refrigerated dough, creamers, and margarine. In a nutshell, trans fats are found in many processed foods. Just another reason to stick with whole foods and avoid trans fats altogether.  Take a moment to check that food label before you indulge in your next packaged snack. Think twice and perhaps grab a healthy alternative if the snack contains trans fats.

And finally — saturated fat

For years, saturated fat was considered evil and to be avoided at all costs. Remember the 90s “fat-free” craze where the company Snackwell’s was crushing it? However, recently it has been confirmed that saturated fats can be a healthy addition to your diet in moderation.  

Saturated fats have been found to form the foundation of cell membranes, increase HDL “good” cholesterol, reduce the risk of stroke, and boost brain health. Saturated fats are generally solid at room temperature and great for high-temperature cooking.

Some healthy options for saturated fats include coconut, ghee, grass fed beef, cheese, eggs, and dairy. However, not all saturated fats are good and it is best to stick with the high-quality ones. Avoid saturated fats in processed meats, pre-packaged fatty snacks, and processed baked goods. Again, as mentioned above, stick with real whole foods and you should be good to go!

The real deal on oils

Now you have an understanding of fats and why, in moderation, healthy fats are a must. If you are ready to add some quality fats to your diet, oils are a great way to start. However, like fats, not all oils are created equal. There are many different types out there to choose from. Let’s take a look at some options so you can make an informed decision the next time you are faced with an oil decision.  

Olive Oil

Olive oil is an excellent option to start with. It is versatile, easy to find, and affordable. One tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil has 13 grams of fat (mostly monounsaturated). It has NO carbohydrate content, is gluten-free, and full of energy providing good for you fat. Olive oil is made by pressing olives and extracting the oil. Olive oil has many uses including soaps, pharmaceuticals, and fuel for traditional oil lamps. However, let’s focus on the main (and best) use for this oil and that is for cooking and eating!

Olive Oil Varieties

There are six different types of olive oil used for cooking and eating. First off, is extra virgin olive oil which is made from the first pressing of olives and many consider it the best variety.  The extraction is done without chemicals and excessive heat. Many times, it is cold pressed using no heat and this helps it retain most of its antioxidants.

Virgin olive oil is also made from the first pressing but has a bit higher acidity level and has a milder taste. Refined olive oil has been refined using agents such as heat and acids. It is oil extracted from the leftover pulp from the first pressing and that is why additional agents are needed to extract any further oil. It does not generally contain the antioxidant benefits; however, the lack of antioxidants gives it a longer shelf life.

Olive oil or pure classic olive oil, is a blend of refined and virgin olive oils. Then there is light olive oil which is a blend of refined olive oil and other vegetable oils. This oil has little to no flavor. Pomace oil is the lowest grade of oil made from the byproducts of olive oil production. It is best to avoid this oil because it has been found to have carcinogenic contaminants.

Which olive oil is best for you, and how do you use it?

Based on what you know now, it’s best to stick with extra virgin or virgin olive oils. When purchasing olive oils, look for dark bottles which help protect the antioxidants that degrade when exposed to light. If you want a more pesticide-free oil, look for the USDA organic stamp of approval. Once purchased, store your oil in a cool and dry place, keep the cap on, and use within a few months of opening if possible.    

Olive oils are best used uncooked or heated at low to medium temperatures. You want to avoid the oil reaching its smoke point.

Smoke point, huh?

It is the temperature at which the oil begins to burn and smoke. Once an oil begins to smoke it can get a burnt flavor, beneficial nutrients are destroyed, and it can begin to develop harmful free radicals. Olive oil’s smoke point is about 400 degrees.

Olive Oil Uses

There are so many different ways to use olive oil. It can be used to create salad dressings or used as a dip for pieces of bread. It is great for use in marinades or sauces for meat, poultry, seafood, or vegetables. You can also drizzle some olive oil over cooked pasta for a simple and delicious dish. Check out a few recipes below for ways to use uncooked olive oil.

Recipes

Olive Oil and Herb Bread Dip

The Best Lemon and Olive Oil Dressing (or marinade)

Cilantro Lime Potato Salad

Grilled Summer Squash With Olive Oil Marinade

Super Simple Lemon Dijon Marinade

6 Ingredient Mediterranean Salad

As mentioned above olive is great for low to medium temperature cooking. It can be used for grilling, sauteing or pan frying.   

Recipes

Olive Oil Garlic Zucchini Noodles

Olive Oil Parmesan Grilled Corn

Pasta With Roasted Broccoli Pasta and Oil

Cod Sauteed with Olive Oil and Fresh Tomatoes

Roasted Lemon Chicken With Potatoes and Rosemary

But wait — you can even bake with olive oil! It is a great way to add moisture to your dessert or favorite baked good. It is recommended that you use a mild tasting olive oil when baking so it does not overpower the other flavors (I learned by mistkae here). You can experiment with replacing butter with olive oil in your favorite recipe. Start by replacing a fourth cup butter with three tablespoons of olive oil.  This will also reduce the total fat of what you are baking since you use less.

Recipes

Healthier Lemon Loaf Cake

Honey and Olive Oil Zucchini Muffins

Olive Oil Pie Crust

Olive Oil Cocoa Brownies

Whole Wheat Olive Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt

What about other oils?

Let’s quickly look at a few other oil options. One oil that has been growing both in popularity and controversy is coconut oil.  It has a smoke point of 350 for extra virgin coconut oil and up to 400 degrees for refined coconut oil. It is 90 percent saturated fat, however about half of those fats come from medium chain fatty acids also called MCT’s which have the ability to increase “good” HDL cholesterol and have also touted weight loss benefits. Some other claims about coconut oil are they can boost brain function, keep hunger away and help lose body fat.

Coconut Oil

If you are looking to add coconut oil to your diet there are many ways to do so. You can use it for higher heat cooking, add it to your smoothie, or, for your morning coffee. Baking is also a very popular way to use coconut oil. It is used a lot in recipes for those following a low carb high-fat diet or a ketogenic diet. Like all things that have nutritional benefits, coconut oil still must be consumed in moderation and is not a miracle food. Below are a few recipes if you want to give coconut oil a try.

Recipes

Shrimp Scampi with Zoodles

Coconut Oil Salad Dressing

Coconut Oil Fudge

Avocado oil

Next up, avocado oil, which is high in monounsaturated fats which reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and raise that “good” HDL cholesterol. Some of the many health claims for avocado oil say it fights inflammation, protects your heart, fights free radicals, and prevents oxidation. Avocado oil contains a high level of antioxidants which can also keep you looking young. Another fun fact is avocado oil is high in vitamin E which many fall short on in their diet.  

The best part is that avocado oil has a high smoke point of 520 degrees which makes it ideal for high temp frying, searing, or browning. It also has a nice mild taste, so it’s great for eating cold in a dressing. As with most oils, you want to use an avocado oil that is cold pressed. The less refined the oil, the higher in nutrients. Here are a few recipes to give avocado oil a try.

Recipes

Chili Lime Chicken Drumsticks with Avocado Oil

California Salad with Avocado Oil Vinaigrette

Dream Worthy Orange and Avocado Oil Cake       

Sesame Oil

Finally, we will take a quick look at sesame oil which is made from sesame seeds. It is rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and is low in saturated fat. This oil has a wonderful nutty flavor and is great for adding richness to a recipe. It is used a lot in Indian, Korean, and Asian style dishes.  

When choosing a sesame oil, you want to use a light version for cooking and a darker version for dressings and cold dishes. The lighter sesame oils are made from untoasted seeds and the darker oils are generally made from toasted sesame seeds. The oil has a high smoke point of 450 degrees, so it can be used for higher temperature cooking. It has been shown to have many health benefits including lowering blood pressure, is great for your bones, and can boost your metabolism, plus so much more. It is packed with nutrition including vitamins B complex, E, and D. Plus, it contains minerals like phosphorus and calcium.

What can you make with sesame oil? The first thing to remember is that once you open your sesame oil, it is best kept in the refrigerator to stop it from going rancid. One of the nice things about sesame oil is that it has a pretty intense flavor so you do not need much. A little oil goes a long way, so your overall fat content may be a bit lower since you use a lot less. Try out a few of these recipes and enjoy!

Recipes

5 Minute Asian Salad Dressing

Sesame Oil Hummus

15 Minute Cauliflower Fried Rice

The oil list can go on and on, and it includes oils such as walnut, almond, grape seed, and flaxseed oil, justs to name a few. Just remember that fat is your friend and adding some healthy oils to your diet can not only add flavor but also lots of nutrition. Oils have both a macro and micronutrient punch, so use food awareness while you enjoy them!

What is your favorite cooking oil? I’d love to hear why below.

If you are ready to start making YOU a priority with both Mind and Body, join my FREE 7 Day challenge to start feeling amazing naked NOW!

Work Hard Be Kind,

Amanda

 

 

 

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