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Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Properties and Health Benefits
Origin of Olive Oil
Typical of the Mediterranean region, Olive Oil is made from olives.
Like wine grapes, olives respond to variation in climate, soil, cultivation practices, harvesting methods, processing and age; thus there are many kinds of olive oils.
Just like grapes or apples, every variety of olives have a different taste, and the characteristics and taste of olive oil depend on what kind of olives are used.
Factors Determining the Quality of Olive Oil
Kind of Olives
Each variety of olives has different flavor and characteristics.
The area where the Olives are grown.
Composition and nutrients of soil.
Ratio of drought and rain throghout the year.
Hhow the oil is extracted from the olives
What techniques are used to harvest the olives.
Acidity of Olive Oil
One of the main quality-telling characteristics of olive oil is its acidity, which measures the amount of oleic acid in the product.
A good Extra virgin oil has an acidity below 1%.
Why is acidity so important?
From the acidity of the olive oil it's possible to understand what alterations the olives endured due to harvesting methods, transportation condition, and transformation process.
What to Look For - Key Terms on the Olive Oil Label
First cold press - oil obtained from the first pressing of olives, with little or no heat applied. A superb product, retaining all the natural goodness and healthy characteristics, the best olive oil. Unfortunately, often quite expensive.
Cold press - Simply extracted without any heat above 82F, but perhaps from the second pressing of the same olives. Still a great product, retaining all the healthy and organoleptic properties.
Unfiltered - Often murky but delicious, described as cloudy, it's processed with careful handling and offers excellent quality and flavor.
Extra Vergin Olive Oil
A superior olive oil, obtained directly from olives, and only with mechanic procedures, no chemical processes. Low level of acidity, typically below 0.8%. This is a virgin olive oil with supreme aroma and flavor, also defined as high organoleptic qualities.
Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil obtained directly from olives and with only mechanic procedures. Has a great aroma and flavor, but with allowable level of acidity up to 2%. Solvent is not permitted.
Olive oil that is a mix of virgin olive oil and an olive oil that did not meet the high quality standards, and had to be enhanced with a chemical process. Has good but not perfect taste and aroma and allowable acidity up to 3.3%.
This oil is obtained from the further processing of what is left of the olives and their pits after the other oils have been produced. It's usually mixed with some olive oil for taste and color. Heavily chemically processed it is the cheapest of the olive oils. It's fit for human consumption, but avoided by olive oil lovers.
Health Properties of Olive Oil
In the Mediterranean diet, proved to be a healthy one, olive oil is the major source of fat. Although many components of the diet are responsible for its healthy profile, olive oil is a major element.
Olive oil is the most delicious and natural of all lipids, made mostly of oleic acid. It contains high levels of monounsaturated fat, which provides many cardiovascular benefits. A diet high in oleic acids, and low in saturated fats, increases good cholesterol (HDI) while reducing bad cholesterol (LDL), in a way that promotes heart health.
In addition, oleic acid is beneficial in decreasing the incidence of arteriosclerosis and thrombosis.
The higher quality olive oils contain poliphenols, which have great antioxidant effects. These antioxidants are very helpful in combating the armful effects of free radicals, which are known to have a dramatic role in many health condition, including arteriosclerosis, cancer, as well as aging.
Oleochantal, also present in olive oil, acts as anti-inflammatory by preventing the production of pro-inflammatory enzymes. Higher quality extra virgin olive oils contain a higher quantity of oleochantal.
For a glowing skin: EVOO, coffee and sugar rub
Why You Should Fry with Olive Oil
Olive oil resists very well to hot temperatures.
During frying, olive oil does not break down, keeps a protective crust around the food, and it's absorbed less than many other oils.
It's ok, for reasons of frugality, to use a more economical grade of olive oil for frying. It's cheaper and still will be one of the most heat stable fats, standing up well to high cooking temperatures.
Alternative Uses for Olive Oil Around the House
Olive oil is an effective and safe product to use for several cleaning and maintenance jobs around the house. Here are some examples:
- Clean paint off your hands and hair.
- Repair scratches on leather furniture, and condition old leather chairs, jackets, and gloves.
- Polish wood furniture.
- Maintain wooden tools and cutting boards.
- Free a stuck zip.
- Remove makeup.
- Cure diaper rush.
- Lubricate squeaky hinges.
© 2012 Robie Benve