Benefits of Olive Oil (and How to Choose a Real One!)
While olive oil is recognized for its high quantities of monounsaturated fatty acids and vitamins A and K (unlike oils like canola, soybean, and vegetable oil, which are problematic), it also has a number of lesser-known advantages that are worth discussing.
Let's delve in and see what the science says, as well as why the quality of your olive oil matters so much.
This Mediterranean classic is often consumed in the so-called "blue zones." (Blue zones are areas with a higher proportion of persons living past the age of 100.) Olive oil is, without a doubt, one of the healthiest oils accessible. It is high in monounsaturated fat and has a number of other health benefits, including:
Antioxidants that are good for you
Antioxidants like oleocanthal and oleuropein are abundant in olive oil. These have been shown in tests to lower harmful LDL levels and improve cholesterol ratios. Oleocanthal appears to work similarly to ibuprofen without the negative side effects.
Quick Tip: This is why, when I get a headache, I usually shoot a tablespoon of olive oil. It almost always alleviates discomfort. This was especially useful throughout my pregnancy, when I was less inclined to take pain relievers but more prone to get headaches.
Fatty Acid Profile for Healthy Hearts
According to certain studies, the fatty acid composition of this healthy oil is helpful to the heart and can help lower C-reactive protein (CRP) levels. As a result, high-quality olive oil is frequently advised for lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.
It is one of the few oils that has been recommended by all sources, including the American Heart Association.
Reduction of Cancer Risk
Olive oil may even be an excellent choice for helping the body protect itself from cancer, according to new studies. This was prompted by evidence that people in Mediterranean nations have a decreased cancer risk, and hypothesis that this oil may be one of the reasons.
Free radical-induced oxidative damage is thought to play a role in cancer risk. Extra virgin olive oil contains a high concentration of powerful antioxidants, which may help to minimize oxidative damage and hence cancer risk. Although more research is needed, all evidence points to olive oil being an important ingredient of a low-inflammation diet.
Furthermore, the oleic acid in this oil renders it resistant to oxidation in testing. As a result, preliminary study suggests that it may help safeguard genes associated to cancer.
Is Olive Oil Safe to Cook With?
Olive oil is a great choice for cool applications like homemade salad dressings and mayonnaise, but many people disagree about whether it should be used in cooking. To figure out why and how safe it is, we must first answer two questions:
1. Does Heated Olive Oil Oxidize?
Because vegetable oils are primarily polyunsaturated fats, they are unstable and can break down when heated, I've already discussed why it's never a good idea to cook with (or consume) them.
Olive oil, on the other hand, is primarily monounsaturated and hence does not easily degrade. It's not as stable as saturated fats like tallow or coconut oil, yet it's been used in Mediterranean cuisine for millennia.
Furthermore, the antioxidants give natural oxidation prevention, making it one of the safest oils to use in the kitchen. This is supported by recent study (as well as generations of healthy senior populations in Mediterranean countries).
The dispute centers on whether oil oxidizes at high temperatures and loses its nutritious value. Some publications even say that when cooked, it easily transforms into trans fat.
What is the conclusion of the research? Researchers heated olive oil to above 350 degrees for 36 hours in one trial and found no symptoms of harm. They utilized it for deep frying in another trial. It took more than 36 hours for it to oxidize and become dangerous.
Olive Oil's Smoke Point
Another factor to consider when cooking is the smoke point, which olive oil excels at. The smoke point varies widely depending on the material, however it usually falls between 325 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a fairly typical oil for use in cooking.
In most cases, olive oil is safe to use in cooking.
This wonderful oil isn't deserving of its negative reputation as a cooking oil. At the same time, good olive oil that isn't tainted with vegetable oils (which are harmful to cook with) is costly and difficult to come by. As a result, this oil isn't the most cost-effective choice for everyday cooking.
However, unless you're frying something for more than 36 hours (which I wouldn't recommend for a multitude of reasons! ), high-quality olive oil should suffice.
The Great Olive Oil Scandal: Is It Really Virgin?
Extra virgin olive oil is widely regarded as the highest-quality olive oil available. It's what our family eats, and it's the healthiest option according to research.
Unfortunately, just as a cigar isn't always just a cigar, olive oil isn't always made from olives!
Oil that is not real
Several examinations over the last decade have revealed that many of these olive oils are either contaminated or rotten.
This is why:
Extra virgin olive oil is made from the first pressing of olives, resulting in a high-quality oil with an excellent nutritional profile. Olives should be pressed as soon as possible after picking to ensure maximum strength and minimum acidity.
Due to increased global demand, some producers have scrimped and passed lower-quality oils as extra virgin, or have adulterated olive oil by adding vegetable oils.
According to initial reports, the main oils affected were in Italy. Recent investigations have showed that these issues have happened in olive oils from all over the world, emphasizing the importance of double-checking the quality of olive oil from any source.
Raids, investigations, arrests, and... What's the deal with olive oil?
Much of this research came to a head in Italy in 2008 with "Operation Golden Oil." According to Food Renegade, this resulted in the arrest of 23 persons and the seizure of 85 farms. It was immediately followed by a second investigation, in which over 40 more people were detained for adding chlorophyll to sunflower and soybean oil and selling it as extra virgin olive oil in Italy and abroad
How to spot Good Olive Oil?
As you can expect, the amount of fraud in this market makes it difficult to discover a reliable source or determine whether you are receiving a high-quality product. Even the best food critics couldn't distinguish which olive oils were excellent grade based on a tasting test, and several chose the lowest quality ones as their top pick.
Many individuals use anecdotal home tests to determine the quality of oil. Unfortunately, home testing (such as putting it in the fridge to see if it solidifies or trying to burn it as a lantern fuel) are unreliable in evaluating whether or not the oil is of excellent quality, and taste tests are even less so.
The best option is to select a firm to order from that you can trust and that tests its oil in a lab. Look for a PGI accreditation, which identifies oils with extraordinary characteristics by requiring the product to be manufactured in a certain geographic region and quality checked.