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One Major Side Effect of Cooking with Olive Oil, Says Science

This oil sure is healthy, unless you’re doing this.

First, let's be clear: Olive oil is incredibly healthy for you. Unlike other cooking oils, olive oil is rich in a "healthy fat" known as monounsaturated fat, a type of dietary fat known to increase your "good" HDL cholesterol and decrease your "bad" LDL cholesterol. And while there are many other health benefits to cooking with olive oil regularly (reduced risk of stroke, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and more), it's also important to keep in mind that olive oil is still a fatty food. And the one major side effect of cooking an excessive amount of fatty foods is weight gain.

Here's what you need to know about properly cooking with olive oil, and for even more healthy tips, be sure to check out our list of The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

First, let's look at the calories. Be honest—how many times have you cooked dinner (maybe a stir-fry or a pasta dish) and just drizzled your olive oil in the pan without measuring? While most olive oil bottles make drizzling and cooking an easy and clean process, if you're not careful about how much oil you're using, you could easily rack up the calories without realizing it.

One tablespoon of olive oil alone equates to around 120 calories—this includes both regular and extra-virgin. If you're cooking a large stir fry or even frying up some breaded chicken, the amount of oil you use will increase the calories of your meal significantly.

Again, cooking with olive oil is a good thing to do for your body—remember all those health benefits? But if you're not careful with how much olive oil you're eating, like any other healthy fatty food, the calories can still rack up and reverse any kind of weight loss efforts you may have been going for.

An easy way to portion your olive oil

One of my favorite tricks I've learned from registered dietitians when it comes to cooking with olive oil is using a spray bottle instead. Spraying your vegetables or meats with olive oil can easily control the amount of oil you use, and will significantly cut the number of calories.

Spray olive oil bottles are easy to buy at the grocery store, but if you're one who likes to reduce the amount of waste you use in the kitchen, a reusable spray oil bottle may be helpful to have on hand.

Now some recipes may tell you to add olive oil to a pan, and that's okay! Instead of just pouring the oil in, grab your measuring spoons and portion out the amount of olive oil you use. That way you can still enjoy your delicious meal without all of those sneakily added calories!

More Olive Oil Stories on Eat This, Not That!
Kiersten Hickman
Kiersten Hickman is a freelance health and nutrition journalist. Read more about Kiersten
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