As an unsaturated fat consisting of around 70% omega-9 fatty acid and anti-oxidants, olive oil is very different to most of the oils and fats we consume in our traditional western diet. It has though been used throughout history and forms the core of the Mediterranean diet which is widely regarded as healthy.
Omega-9 fatty acids don’t have the same inflammatory effects on the body as saturated fats and omega-6 oils. As such, olive oil is kind to our liver and plays a part in the reduction of systemic inflammation. Olive oil tastes perhaps better cold in salads or taken neat as 2-3 tablespoons daily. Cooking with olive oil is also a healthier alternative to using refined vegetable oils since fewer toxic aldehydes are produced when heated to high temperatures long enough to fry foods.
If possible you should aim to substitute all of the predominantly omega-6 vegetable oils and saturated fats with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). Consumers in the US might have a harder time finding a reliable and authentic source of EVOO compared to European consumers where there is a stronger tradition of using the oil. When searching for a high quality EVOO, you should always try, whenever possible, to ensure that it has been sourced from organically grown olives and hasn’t been adulterated with other vegetable oils.
I always treat my olive oil stocks in the same way as I treat unsaturated omega-3 oils, which are prone to oxidation easily; by placing in the fridge once the bottle is opened. This way it keeps fresher, longer and it doesn’t attack the throat quite so aggressively if taken straight from the spoon.