Extra virgin olive oil is a fat of vegetable origin widely used in Italian cuisine. It is a wonderful addition to so many foods but. more importantly, it also delivers superb health benefits.
Vegetable fats, unlike anima fats, consist of a greater number of unsaturated acids and these are key to lowering cholesterol in the blood – something that saturated fatty acids are unable to do.
Olive oil vs other oils
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Extra virgin olive oil is obtained by mechanical pressure of the olive, during which time it undergoes a process of fermentation that extracts oleuropein – and this is the substance that gives a bitter taste to the oil.
This process it’s different for other oils derived from seeds such as palm oil, canola, flax and others. These undergo extraction by less than natural methods, utilising solvents such as butane and ethanol.
These kinds of oils may also undergo a refining process that can make changes in the chemical structure of the fatty acids, changing them radically from CIS to TRANS.
Let me explain.. The formation of TRANS fatty acids inside our body can lead to the creation of free radicals which in the long run can lead to serious health problems.
Let’s see the benefits of olive oil. Olive oil contains some of the most powerful antioxidants: polyphenols and Vitamin A,D and E.
These components are good for the heart and the blood circulation, they delay cellular aging, they are anti-inflammatory, regulate the intestines, lower the cholesterol and also eliminate free radicals.
And speaking of cholesterol, we must keep in mind that not all of it is bad!
Cholesterol is divided into two distinct types: one made of LDL molecules (Low Density Lipoproteins) also known as bad cholesterol and another one made of HDL (High Density Lipoproteins) molecules better known as good cholesterol.
The high presence of HDL in the olive oil and its functionality, after the ingestion of the olive oil and other foods that contain it, is conveyed by lipoproteins which increases the elimination of cholesterol.
The risk of coronary heart disease has been shown to be higher for residents of countries who are not regular consumers of olive oil compared to the Mediterranean countries where it is high in usage.
But don’t run to the kitchen and drink the whole olive oil bottle after reading this, please!
As with all things we must not exceed sensible amounts! Just take three teaspoons a day if you are under a very strict diet, otherwise you can also eat four teaspoons.
Keep in mind that a teaspoon corresponds to 90 calories. Not taking olive oil or excluding it from the diet is wrong as well.
The presence of fat-soluble vitamins in vegetables, for example, are better absorbed in the presence of olive oil. And this is just one of the benefits of this type of oil.
In the Mediterranean diet olive oil can be used as a seasoning for most of the dishes as it increases the taste and makes the meals even more enjoyable. Just by adding it in the salad, meat, lean meat, fish can make all the difference and really elevate your food.
And finally a tip: if you use the olive oil on wet hair and then rinse it out, your hair will look even more shiny!