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Olive Oil – The Good, The Better, The Best

Homer, Greek poet coined the term liquid gold for Olive oil in his epic poem Odyssey.

Let’s find out what makes Olive Oil so special…..
Olive oil contains approximately 80% monounsaturated, 14% saturated, 9% polyunsaturated fats on average. Olive oil is rich in vitamins A, B-1, B-2, C, D, E and K and in iron. The beneficial health effects of olive oil are due to both its high content of monounsaturated fatty acids and it’s high content of anti-oxidative substances.

Types of Olive Oil:
  • Extra virgin olive oil:  cold-pressed result of the first pressing of the olives, with only 1% acid; considered the finest and fruitiest, and thus the most expensive; ranges from a crystalline champagne color to greenish-golden to bright green; generally, the deeper the color, the more intense the olive flavor.
  • Virgin olive oil also a first-press oil, with a slightly higher acidity level of between 1-3%.
  • Olive oil: is a blend of extra virgin and virgin olive oils.Light olive oil:  This version contains the same amount of beneficial monounsaturated fats as regular olive oil, but due to the refining process, it is lighter in color and has essentially no flavor. This makes it a good choice for baking and other purposes where the heavy flavor might not be desirable. This process also gives it a higher smoking point, making it a prime candidate for high-heat cooking.
Benefits of Olive Oil: From information provided by ADA - No matter what the type, olive oil is high in monounsaturated fatty acids and the calories are the same. Terms such as "virgin" and "extra virgin" olive oil refer to the acid content—not the nutrient content. Extra virgin olive oil has les acid and a fruitier flavor than "pure" or "virgin" olive oil. Because it has more aroma and flavor, you can use less. The term "light" refers to the color and fragrance, not to the calories, fat content or if it has an olive-oil flavor.

Studies have shown that olive oil offers protection against heart disease by controlling LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels while raising HDL (the "good" cholesterol) levels.

Olive oil is beneficial to the digestive system but it does not necessarily keep you thin; it contains just as many calories as other oils (9cal/g). Olive oil acts as a mild laxative, is a friend to the intestine and an enemy of ulcers and gastritis.
Olive oil is a good tonic, with specific benefits for people suffering from heart disease. Olive oil has been regarded as the "beauty oil". The body's cells incorporate the valuable fatty acids from the oil, making arteries more supple and skin more lustrous. The amount of oleic acid in olive oil is about the same as that found in a mother's milk and is thus the best growth supplement for infants.
Drunk before a meal, olive oil protects the stomach from ulcers. If a spoon or two is taken with lemon or coffee, it prevents constipation without irritating the intestinal tract. It is also effective in treating urinary tract infections and gall bladder problems. It is a perfect remedy for gastritis in children. It accelerates brain development and strengthens the bones.

Purchasing and Storing Olive oil:

When purchasing olive oil, it is important to check labels for the percentage of acidity, grade of oil, volume, and country of origin. The level of acidity is a key factor in choosing fine olive oil, along with color, flavor, and aroma.
Also, be aware that heat, light and air can affect the taste of olive oil and possibly its health-promoting nutrients. Store olive oil in a dark, room-temperature cupboard, or even in the refrigerator. The fats and healthy phytonutrients in olive oil — as well as the taste — can slowly degrade over time, so it's probably best to use it within a year or within six months once opened.

Cooking with Olive oil:
There is a huge misconception that cooking in olive oil diminishes the nutritional value of the food. The fact is that excessive heating of olive oil will evaporate the alcohols and esters that make up its delicate taste and fragrance causing it to lose flavor.
When cooking with olive oil, save your extra-virgin expensive oils for salads, dressings and vinaigrettes. Extra virgin olive oil tastes great on cooked vegetables or brushed onto fish before serving.
When sautéing or frying, use either a combination olive oil (one that is simply a blend of extra virgin and regular olive oil) or straight olive oil.
For deep-frying, the olive oil grade "olive oil," is excellent because it has a higher smoke point (410º F) than virgin or extra virgin oils.
Choose the light or mild type of olive oil for baking, especially savory breads and sweets such as cakes, cookies, and other desserts. Because of the filtration these types of oils have undergone, they withstand high-heat cooking methods.