For your next fat fix, skip McDonald’s – consider olive oil

Americans are used to being surrounded by fat, as disgusting as it may sound. McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Taco Bell line the streets and highways. In college towns, such as Champaign-Urbana, the students are blessed with the greasiness that is Second Story Pizza, Niro’s and Fat Sandwich. These high-calorie options have lead to the misconception that fat is a bad thing for one’s body. However, there are healthier options for fat, and here’s why olive oil is the prime contender.

*Olive oil raises bad cholesterol: False*

One of the health benefits is the effect that olive oil has on cholesterol compared to the effect of other fats.

“It’s considered better for our health by playing a role in lowering LDL cholesterol, which is bad cholesterol, and raising HDL, which is good cholesterol,” research dietician Linda Garrow said.

*Olive oil is healthier than other fats: True*

It’s important to remember that simply adding olive oil to one’s diet won’t have any health benefits unless the olive oil is added in order to replace unhealthy fats.

“When given a choice about which oil or fat you will use, choose olive oil,” Garrow said.

The most well-known diet that incorporates olive oil is the Mediterranean diet. The diet has a strong emphasis on small amounts of dairy and meat, an abundance of food from plant sources and olive oil as the primary fat used while cooking.

“When I’m at home, I try to use olive oil in place of other fats while cooking,” said Kristen Krumwiede, freshman in LAS.

“At school, I try to put it on my salads in place of dressing and on noodles instead of butter.”

*Olive oil has nutritional value: True*

“Fat is a concentrated source of calories, regardless the source. There may be advantages of the types of fats we choose in our diets,” research dietician Stacey Krawczyk said.

“Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats, and using monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats in place of saturated fats may contribute some health benefits.”

Olive oil also contains fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D and C. Each of these are natural antioxidants.

“These vitamins are important in the prevention of LDL oxidation and cell damage that can lead to atherosclerosis or coronary heart disease,” Garrow said.

*It doesn’t matter how much you use: False*

It’s also important to not overuse olive oil because too much of a good thing can be bad.

“It is high in calories and over consuming calories leads to weight gain,” Krawczyk said.

When used in the right amounts, olive oil can help lower cholesterol while helping with weight loss. It’s a simple change that could change one’s perspective on fat.