When it comes to cooking oils, I always wonder if I’m using the right one. Does it matter if I made the effort of putting together a nutritious meal if the way I’m cooking it is unhealthy? I’ve done a lot of research and come up with confusing results. But once I looked at the kinds of cooking oils people in the “Blue Zones” used, I knew I had to trust them. Turns out, when it comes to healthy cooking oils, it’s all about olive oil and avocado oil!
The term “Blue Zones” refers to five specific places: Okinawa, Japan; Icaria, Greece; Sardinia, Italy; Loma Linda, California; and Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica. These are the areas where, on average, people live the longest, with residents often celebrating their 100th birthdays — and beyond. This curious fact has led researchers to study the people who live here, to see what the rest of us might learn that could be beneficial to our health.
Diet has emerged as a huge reason for their longevity, as we’ve written about in previous stories. And the type of cooking oil they use is a huge contributing factor! If you want to live longer, try cooking with olive or avocado oil for the best health boost.
The Two Best Cooking Oils for a Health Boost
Growing up, my family mainly cooked with butter. It wasn’t until I got to college and roomed with a dietetics major that I found out olive oil is much healthier — and lasts a lot longer! People in the “Blue Zones” tend to overwhelmingly use olive oil in their diets. They either cook most of their meals with it, or add it as a topping on dips, salads, and pretty much anything they can think of.
This is especially true in Greece, where olive oil has been a part of life for centuries. “In Ikaria, we found that people aged 65 and older that consume at least four ounces of olive oil per day were associated with the lowest mortality rates,” Dan Buettner, founder of Blue Zones, told Well + Good. “In other words, relatively high olive oil consumption seemed to predict higher life expectancy.”
Olive oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids (the good fats!) and antioxidants, two huge factors in reducing inflammation. This is key as we get older and our bodies have a harder time battling painful inflammatory infections. It’s also a great option for healthy cholesterol, keeping your heart strong.
In recent years, no other food has had its time in the spotlight quite like avocado. A staple in many Latin American diets for centuries, where the weather makes it easy to grow, Americans started eating more and more of the green fruit once we realized the incredible health benefits it brings — and that extends to use as a cooking oil.
“Avocado oil is packed with antioxidants, so you have less worries about degradation. [It’s also] good for heart health and has been found to reduce triglycerides and bad, LDL cholesterol without affecting good, HDL cholesterol. Avocado oil is rich in the carotenoid lutein which improves eye health and may reduce the risk of age-related eye diseases,” The Nutrition Twins, Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT and Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFT, tell Well + Good.
So next time you’re making dinner, don’t just think about what you’re putting on the plate — think about how you’re making it. Sticking to olive oil and avocado oil is the way to go for the biggest health boost!