With olive oil flowing like the Aegean Sea, butter and cream rarely appeared at the dinner table. Low in artery-clogging fats, yet rich in monounsaturated fat, olive oil was the chief source of fat in the region and is adored by cardiologists and chefs alike. A heart-healthy diet rich in monounsaturated fat has been shown to lower the bad LDL cholesterol and fatty triglycerides (fat) in your blood, without disrupting the healthy, good HDL cholesterol — a claim to fame that a low-fat diet can’t always make. But before you start mopping up all the olive oil at the table with the focaccia bread, note that olive oil has about the same amount of calories per serving as butter and margarine. Sedentary people may have to be careful not to feed their heart at the expense of their waist. The culinary rule-of thumb is to use extra-virgin olive oil on salads and at the end of cooking for a more full-flavored dish. Let your palate be the ultimate judge.
Back to Mediterranean Pyramid