Eating enough healthy fat is essential for hormone balance, as well as for immune, heart and brain health. Olive oil nourishes the thyroid and has been touted as a fertility food for women. Regular consumption of olive oil is may also improve sperm integrity and function in men, according to a recent study.

One of my favorite healthy fats is extra-virgin olive oil. Olive oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, but is primarily a monosaturated fat. Diets high in monosaturated fats are associated with lower LDL, lower triglycerides and higher HDL. High quality, extra virgin olive oil is loaded with antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

Pestos, using herbs from the garden, are one of my favorite vehicles for enjoying olive oil. Herbs, like basil and mint, contain an abundance of polyphenols, plant compounds with significant anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. My pestos, by the way, are both dairy-free and nut-free; the combination of olive oil + herbs + allium (scallions and garlic) makes this pesto a potent anti-inflammatory food.

Experts disagree—and you may with me!—on whether cooking with olive oil is “healthy”. Personally, I do NOT cook with olive oil. I only use olive oil RAW…in pestos, vinaigrettes or drizzling over food after it has been cooked—to maximize my nutritional bang for the buck.

Olive oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, but is primarily a monosaturated fat. Diets high in monosaturated fats are associated with lower LDL, lower triglycerides and higher HDL. High quality, extra virgin olive oil is loaded with antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

If the price of a bottle of olive oil seems too good to be true (less than, say, $10), trust your instincts! You get what you pay for… Unfortunately, olive oil fraud is rampant. Up to 70% of olive oil sold, worldwide, is watered down with cheap, inflammation-causing oils, like soybean, canola or sunflower oil.

What I look for when buying high quality olive oil:

  • Is it extra-virgin? (This is the only kind I buy.)
  • Is it cold-pressed, ideally, “first cold press”?
  • Is there a seal from the International Olive Oil Council?
  • Is the olive oil in a dark glass bottle (this prevents oxidation)?
  • Is there a harvest date listed?
  • Is there a Non-GMO Verified seal?
  • Is there a seal certifying that it’s “extra virgin”?

Basil-Mint Pesto

3 packed cups organic basil leaves
2-1/2 cups mint leaves
1 cup scallions, thinly sliced rounds
4 medium-sized garlic cloves
Juice of 1 large organic lemon (apx. 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt, plus a pinch or two, to taste
3/4 cup high-quality extra-virgin olive oil

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until creamy.

Enjoy!