HEALTH BENEFITS OF OLIVE OIL - THAT MEDITERRANEAN DIET !
Olive oil, scientific studies suggest, might be one of the primary reasons for which people of the Mediterranean have about 50% fewer incidences of cancer than those of the United States. That alone is enough to get anybody’s attention!
Olive oil helps the body assimilate vitamins A, D, and K. It contains essential acids that cannot be produced by our own bodies. Olive oil is a liquid fountain of youth, slowing down the aging process. It benefits a body’s liver, regulates bowel movements, and helps maintain a healthy sex drive. (Some say olive oil is an aphrodisiac!). Moreover, science has proven that the circulatory system is stimulated by a diet that includes olive oil.
Olive oil is about 75% monounsaturated fat. But, knowing that olive oil is about 75% monounsaturated fat, isn’t it true that fats are bad for the body?
Actually, our bodies need fat, and, 30% of all of our daily diet should come from fat. It’s hard to accept this, as we’ve been bombarded by the idea that fat is bad. We need, though, to discern between “good” fats and “bad” fats. The difference between the two is magnanimous.
When we are eating “fats” in our diet, we want to eat unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are the good guys. They are fats found in avocados, olive oil, fish, and other natural substances. Tom Venuto, a weight trainer and author of Burn the Fat, says
Adding the right kind of fats can increase your energy, increase fat burning, increase muscle-building hormones, increase your strength, improve insulin function, improve your skin texture and strengthen your joints (Venuto, 2003: 156).
Saturated fats, on the other hand, are the fats we want to avoid.
Foods like donuts, cakes, potato chips, French fries, fried foods, fast foods etc. are some of the worst things we can put in our bodies. These fats, as opposed to the good guys, clog our arteries, raise our cholesterol, can be carcinogenic, and make us fat!
In short, good, unsaturated fats and oils are essential to healthy living. They do everything from help stimulate appetite to assist the digestive process. Olive oil is not only tasty but also a GREAT way to get the daily fats you need in a healthy, flavorful way!
Types of Olive Oil
From delicate, light and flowery to fruity and full-bodied, there is a perfect olive oil for every taste and every use. Selecting different oil for each purpose is a healthy way to add flavor to food.
The particular flavor, color and aroma of each olive oil is determined by the type of olive, and the climate and soil conditions in which it was grown.
The choice of which olive oil to use depends on what it is going to be used for. Mild olive oils are excellent when eaten raw, and are used with salads, vegetables and white fish as well as for making omelettes, fried eggs, mayonnaise and for baking. A medium fruity- flavored oil will give personality to salads and other regional dishes. A stronger fruity- flavored oil, with a slightly bitter taste, will bring out flavor when frying, sautéing, braising and stewing. Extra virgin olive oil maintains all its biological properties when eaten raw, making it particularly appropriate for use in salads, dressings or as a spread on bread or toast.
indication of flavor.
Grades of Olive Oils
Imported olive oil is available in four grades: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Virgin Olive Oil, Olive Oil and Olive Pomace Oil.
Extra virgin olive oils and virgin olive oils are from the first pressings with no heat or chemicals used in the process. They are the most flavorful and aromatic.
Olive oil and olive pomace oil are the common names for a blend of refined olive oil and virgin olive oil. Blending gives the oil the flavor, aroma, color, and antioxidants of virgin olive oil.
As a general rule, cook with olive oil; season or drizzle with extra virgin after food is cooked.
Store any olive oil in airtight containers away from light and at room temperature. Stored this way, olive oil will keep longer than all other edible oils, up to two years or longer. Storing in the refrigerator will cause olive oil to cloud, but this will disappear when the oil returns to room temperature.
Product care and storage
All olive oils are best kept and stored away from heat and light in a cool, dark place. If you have a place where you store wine, put your olive oil right beside it! Storing olive oil, then, above your stove or in the windowsill is not a good idea because air, heat, and light will turn the oil rancid.
Unlike wine, olive oil doesn’t get better with age, but worse. The best oils are consumed rapidly. If stored well, in a cool, dry, dark place in the appropriate container, your oil will keep for years. It will taste the best, however, in the first year of consumption (especially the first couple of months).
If you store your oil in the refrigerator, it will retain its flavor but become cloudy.
To serve, bring the oil out and let it warm slowly to room temperature. The clouds should go away.
It’s important to remember that olive oil is best used quickly after opening. A good way to purchase it is to purchase in small amounts or, if you purchase the oil in big drums, share with friends and family, dividing the oil up.
Cooking With Olive Oil
When a recipe calls for olive oil - how do you know what kind to use?
Let your own taste preferences be your guide...but temper it by the end result you want. As a general rule, cook with Olive Oil; season or drizzle with Extra Virgin after food is cooked.
Light and delicate dishes like poached or sautéed fish, chicken or veal, or perhaps mild-flavored soups, may be better served by a milder, less fruity olive oil.
Full-flavored robust dishes such as hearty stews, soups, or tomato-based sauces welcome a more fruity, flavorful olive oil, as do steamed vegetables and salads.
For roasted, barbecued and braised dishes which require high or prolonged heat...it's probably best to use Olive Oil because it contains less of the volatile compounds that evaporate with heat and "perfume" your kitchen. Equally important, it has the same health benefits as Virgin Olive Oils. And lest you forget - it's less expensive.