If olive oil is high in fat, why is it considered healthy?

Answers from Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.

The main type of fat found in all kinds of olive oil is monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). MUFAs are considered a healthy dietary fat.

If you replace saturated and trans fats with unsaturated fats, such as MUFAs and polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs), you may gain certain health benefits.

MUFAs and PUFAs may help lower your risk of heart disease by improving related risk factors. For instance, MUFAs have been found to lower total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels.

In addition, some research shows that MUFAs may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be helpful if you have or are at risk of type 2 diabetes.

But even healthier fats like olive oil are high in calories, so use them in moderation.

Choose MUFA-rich foods such as olive oil in place of other fatty foods — particularly butter and stick margarine — not in addition to them. And remember that you can't make unhealthy foods healthier simply by adding olive oil to them.

July 20, 2016 See more Expert Answers