Extra virgin olive oil being used in cooking for health benefits

Heart-Healthy Olive Oil Recipes

Extra virgin olive oil is a versatile fat that is a mainstay of the Mediterranean diet. EVOO, as it often is called, boasts a wide array of health benefits, including supporting LDL and HDL levels already within a normal range, and promoting a healthy inflammatory response. In addition to its cardiovascular benefits, olive oil is rich in antioxidants which help promote cellular health and fight free radicals.

Olive oil comes from pressed olives fresh off olive trees (found in the Mediterranean region and even throughout California). This versatile fruit is used in everyday life and in everyday products, including some that you may not even think of, like cosmetics, medicine, and, of course, food and recipes.

A study found that the intake of two tablespoons of olive oil daily improved markers of cardiovascular health. We all know that EVOO makes a great sauté substitute for less healthy fats like corn or canola oil, but how else can you consume this heart-healthy fat?

Luckily, EVOO’s versatility in texture and flavor allows this polyphenol-rich fat to be used in recipes that go far beyond the standard sauté pan. Here are just a few creative ways to incorporate extra virgin olive oil into your next salad, main course or even dessert.

Pasta perfection

Pasta dish made freshly with EVOO pesto
Photo and recipe by: @shuangys_kitchensink

When it comes to incorporating EVOO into a healthy meal, the pasta-bilities are endless. Long are the days of boring jar sauce… and who has time to sit around all day and make a Sunday gravy? Kick your pasta into high, healthy gear by creating a pesto made with a few simple ingredients. Extra virgin olive oil plus freshly squeezed lemon, pine nuts, basil, along with the cheesy flavor of nutritional yeast, will yield you a healthy-yet-delicious way to coat your favorite linguini, rigatoni or whatever pasta pleases your palate.

Dietary restrictions? Switch up your traditional pasta with a gluten-free alternative. Or perhaps if you’re looking to add even more veggies into your diet, grab a spiralizing device and zucchini to create noodle-like pasta (AKA zoodles.)

Recipe: Vegan Basil Pesto with Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Check out the recipe!

Sensational salads

Umanaralkar using EVOO as an easy salad dressing
Photo and recipe by @umanaralkar

For those of you who are watching your waistlines, a salad may seem like the perfect, diet-friendly food. But with each bite of that seemingly “healthy” salad, you may be committing diet sabotage. The horror! Sneaky added sugars, carbs and fats are often found in bottled dressings, making that once-healthy salad a high-calorie, high-sugar meal. Ditch the store-bought dressing and take a walk on the lighter side with something more…natural, like EVOO.

Besides being packed with bountiful health benefits, EVOO has a nutty, fruity flavor that adds an extra level of taste to your homemade salad dressing. Sprinkle in some all-natural sea salt and squeeze a fresh lemon for a DIY dressing that’s both good for you and your weight management goals.

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Recipe: Chilled Watermelon Salad with EVOO Dressing

Check out the recipe!

Vinaigrette with extra virgin olive oil poured over fresh salad
Photo and recipe by @wholedailylife

Have a bit more time on your hands? Feeling adventurous in the kitchen? With a few simple ingredients, you can create a vinaigrette, similar to a store brand’s—but much healthier. Take your tastebuds to new heights with a homemade dressing packed with natural, good-for-you ingredients like all-natural honey, stone ground mustard and white balsamic vinegar.

Take your healthy vinaigrette even further by pairing it with an equally as healthy salad. What’s a salad without some greenery? First, select your greens (lettuce, spinach or arugula will do), coupled with chopped up fresh stone fruit like peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots and cherries. Finally, balance our your salad base with some healthy fats like fresh mozzarella balls and chopped pistachios. Mix together with your freshly made vinaigrette for a show-stopping salad that will not only satisfy your hunger cravings, but check off all your daily food groups.

Recipe: Stone Fruit Salad with EVOO Vinaigrette

Check out the recipe!

Healthy, more nutritious zucchini bread with EVOO
Photo and recipe by @chelseyamernutrition

Baking with EVOO

Pestos and vinaigrettes are a great start to incorporating extra virgin olive oil in the kitchen, but why stop there? This next recipe hack will have you saying, “E-V-O-O-OHHHH!”

After you’ve “zoodled” your pasta, save some zucchini for a dessert packed with the benefits of extra virgin olive oil—as well as a serving of veggies. Take your zucchini bread to healthier heights by getting the same moist texture with additional heart health benefits by swapping butter or canola oil for a high-quality EVOO.

EVOO provides the healthy fats this fluffy dessert needs as well as providing it with the perfect amount of crumb to keep you coming back for more. Best of all, you’ll be biting into this blissful, indulgent bread with zero guilt as it is low in artificial sugar and only contains ½ a cup of oil in the entire recipe. Sweet.

Recipe: Low Sugar Olive Oil Zucchini Bread

Check out the recipe!

About the Author: Andrew Davis is a graduate of Pace University NYC with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. He has more than a decade's worth of experience in content and social media in the health and wellness space. An avid traveler, Andrew also has volunteered as an English teacher and humanitarian in countries throughout Asia.