Production Method Counts
We often say that Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is the juice of the olive fruit.
This is because the way EVOO is produced does not undergo high heat and chemical refining.
This process of extracting oil from the olives is termed as unrefined or unprocessed method. The technique used is called cold pressed/extraction under a temperature of preferably no more than 28oC.
Cooking oils, such as canola and sunflower, are produced from high heat and chemical refining to extract oils from the seeds, bleach to change the colour of the oils, and deodorise to remove the odour smell.
Nutritional Values of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
In the production of unrefined olive oils, the producers need to use olives that are in good condition and carefully manage various production stages. This is because the oil will not be treated chemically to hide bad tastes that would evolve from oxidised olives or some other contamination.
When an olive oil is called Extra Virgin, it must satisfy two conditions: one is that it must be produced by cold pressed/extraction from fresh olives, which does not involve the application of excessive heat, additives or solvents and has an acidity level less than 0.8%, and second, it is free of defects in taste.
Polyphenols, Oleocanthal & Monounsaturated Fat
Because of the production method, Extra Virgin Olive Oil retains a range of health-promoting phytonutrients, especially polyphenols and in particular oleocanthal that are known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
The high level (about 75%) of monounsaturated (omega-9) fat in the Extra Virgin Olive Oil, specifically, its oleic acid also can help lower our cholesterol and control insulin levels.
When the production involved high heat and chemical refining, most of the nutritious attributes would have been lost in the process. Pure Olive Oil (90% refined olive oil and 10% extra virgin olive oil) and Extra Light Olive oils are refined oils.
Seven Most Important Health Benefits
- Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
- Keep Our Heart Young
- Protect Against Cancer
- Help Prevent Strokes
- Fight Osteoporosis
- Protect from Depression
- Reduce Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Polyphenols are known to be powerful health-protective antioxidants, which may fight oxidative stress, have a positive impact on cardiovascular disease, and help to reverse oxidative damage that occurs in the aging process.
As such, long term consumption of diets rich in plant polyphenols, such as the Extra Virgin Olive Oil, offers protection against heart disease by lowering the bad LDL cholesterol while raising good HDL levels.
It may have a protective role on breast, colon, lung, ovarian and skin cancer development, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, osteoporosis and neurodegenerative diseases.
It has been suggested that two tablespoons of Premium Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil a day is enough to provide these anti-inflammatory benefits.
Oleocanthal, the most important polyphenol in EVOO, has anti-inflammatory properties, which acts similar to ibuprofen in the body. With daily consumption of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, it may prevent or delay the occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease and related neurodegenerative dementias, as well as reduce the severity of its symptoms.
Oleocanthal appears to be responsible for the burning sensation that occurs in the back of the throat, where we experience a slight cough or tingling, when consuming Extra Virgin Olive Oil. In fact, the spicy bitter flavour is usually an indication of a high quality extra virgin olive oil.
Other phytonutrients in olive oil have been shown to decrease blood levels of glucose and insulin, decrease blood pressure, and decrease blood coagulation.
A study published in the scientific journal Diabetes Care showed that diet rich in olive oil reduced the risk of type II diabetes by almost 50 percent compared to a low fat diet. Type II diabetes is the most common and preventable form of diabetes.
This makes Extra Virgin Olive Oil very different from seed oils, like soybean, safflower, sunflower, corn, and canola oil, which have undergone a refining process that would have already destroyed the phytonutrients.
Premium Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil is an olive juice, it is very tasty with direct consumption. If not taken directly, we could also pour it on bread for breakfast. It tastes good! In this way, you will benefit the most from Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
It is interesting to note that these anti-inflammatory benefits of extra virgin olive oil do not depend on large levels of intake.
Researchers have recommended daily consumption of two tablespoons of premium quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil every morning, or alternatively, use of at least 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of Extra Virgin Olive Oil per day to cook vegetables, which have been shown to be associated with significant health (anti-inflammatory) benefits.
Interesting Fact: Extra virgin olive oil has been used as a beauty agent since ancient Greece. The same antioxidants that heal our internal cells may help protect our outer layer from damage. We can apply extra virgin olive oil directly on our skin, create a hair mask or as eye makeup remover. It is worth trying it!
Monounsaturated Fats – How It Affects Our Health
Monounsaturated fats help protect our heart by lowering blood pressure, improving our cholesterol profile, lowering peak blood-glucose response, and reducing our risk of cardiovascular disease.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil contains about 75% of its fat in the form of oleic acid (a monounsaturated, omega-9 fatty acid).
Researchers believe that oleic acid in extra virgin olive oil gets absorbed into the body, finds its way into cell membranes, changes signalling patterns at a cell membrane level and thereby lowers blood pressure!
Extra virgin olive oil contains modest amounts of Vitamin E and plenty of monounsaturated fatty acids beneficial to our health. It will be better off to cook our food in extra virgin olive oil.
Monounsaturated fats can also help reduce bad cholesterol levels in our blood without reducing the good HDL cholesterol, which can lower our risk of heart disease and stroke. They also provide nutrients to help develop and maintain our body’s cells. Oils rich in monounsaturated fats also contribute vitamin E to the diet, an antioxidant vitamin we need in our everyday diet.
Research studies indicate that monounsaturated fats help people lose weight without additional food restriction or physical activity because we tend to eat less food. Several other studies indicate that monounsaturated fat enhances the body’s breakdown of stored fat.
Calories in Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Although high in calories, in a study conducted at the Technische Universität München in 2013 and a study published in the “Journal of Women’s Health” in June 2010 have suggested that Extra Virgin Olive Oil may help reduce levels of obesity due to consuming it may keep us from feeling hungry for a longer time.
The bitter and spicy (or peppery) the extra virgin olive oil is, the better the quality, and hence it is more beneficial to our health.
Why Considering Using Extra Virgin Olive Oil in Our Everyday Culinary Preparation
Apart from the health benefits, the unique fragrant of the Extra Virgin Olive Oil will greatly improve the taste of the dishes we prepare.
Our children and family may love the olive fragrant infused into the dishes we prepare for them using extra virgin olive oil.
For example, if we could consider using Extra Virgin Olive Oil to cook vegetables, particularly those that are naturally bitter, or those that contain sulfur such as the brassica family – broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, instead of using vegetable or seed oils, or other traditional cooking oils, we will not only reap the most health benefits from the vegetables and extra virgin olive oil, but also greatly improve the taste of vegetables.
If we consider using extra virgin olive in our everyday culinary preparation, and start early when our children are still at young age, our kids and family will have a healthier and heartier future.