Olive Oil Benefits in Health and Cooking

If you're looking for just one oil to use in the kitchen, you could not do better than olive oil; olive oil benefits your body, your brain, and your recipes, too. It is definitely liquid gold.

Used for thousands of years, olive oil was regarded as partially responsible for the amazing longevity of the men and women who followed a Mediterranean dietbefore any scientific studies could definitively prove that olive oil benefits health. More than any other grade, extra-virgin olive oil is made from the juice of fresh, ripe olives; it is more likely to contain all the incredible nutrients that olive oil is famous for.

What culinary problem is this ingredient solving?

Olive oil is used to enhance the flavor of the food you cook, and it conducts higher temperatures allowing food to cook quickly no matter what method you use.

Cooking temperature

Different grades of olive oils differ in taste, utilize, and smoke stage. The smoke point is really a temperature range (between 365-420°F), not an absolute quantity because many factors affect the chemical properties.

The smoke point of petroleum varies with its quality. High quality extra-virgin olive oils (with low free fatty acids) have a higher smoke point, but they're expensive to cook with.

Taste profile

Because of the wide range of olives used, olive oil can vary in flavor depending on where it comes from and how much refining it moves through before bottling. Grassy, tropical, fruity, green, are just some of the qualities olive oil can have.

Each oil is different--some are very light, while others are extreme and daring. When made from olives from real estates or specific growing regions, these high-quality artisan oils have more distinct flavors--and carry a higher price tag.

How it has grown, harvested and processed

Spain is the leading producer of olive oil from the Mediterranean area, closely followed by Italy and Greece. In the United States, California generates the maximum olive oil. Olive trees flourish in arid areas with well-drained soil and a lot of sun.

Olives, of which there are about 1,000 different varieties, are harvested from trees and washed. Then they're pushed between stone or stainless steel blades and the paste is added to a centrifuge that separates the oil and water from the mash. Once the water is drawn outside, olive oil is left . That's just the start! Olive oil can undergo many more refinements to get bottled and make its way into the shelf at the store.

Grades and standards

There's a good deal of debate and confusion about all the different varieties out there. To help clarify standards for the United States, in 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) adopted chemical and sensory standards for olive oil grades similar to those established by the IOOC, the International Olive Oil Council. Here are the official recommendations:

Olive oil -- obtained solely from the fruit of the olive tree (Olea europaea L.), to the exclusion of oils obtained using solvents or re-esterification procedures and of any mixture with oils of other types.

Virgin olive oil -- obtained from the fruit of the olive tree solely by mechanical or other physical means under conditions, including thermal conditions, that do not lead to alterations in the petroleum, and that have not undergone any treatment other than washing, decantation, centrifugation, and filtration. No additives of any kind are allowed.

Olive-pomace oil -- obtained by treating olive pomace (the product remaining after the mechanical extraction of olive oil) with solvents or other physical treatments, to the exclusion of oils obtained by synthetic procedures and mixture with oils of other kinds. Alpha-tocopherol is permitted to restore natural tocopherol lost in the refining process for refined olive pomace and olive-pomace oil.

Types and Uses

Light olive oil -- This is a marketing term that indicates highly refined olive oils with reduced calorie content.

Pure olive oil, or simply olive oil -- These are below extra-virgin and virgin standards and are heavily processed to remove flavors. Although the oil is still a source of monounsaturated fats, it has been stripped of healthful polyphenols.

Cold-pressed -- Cold-pressed means that no heat was utilized to extract the oil from the olives. Adding heat to the olives allows producers to extract more oil from the olives, but also destroys the delicate flavors and aromas valued in a good extra-virgin olive oil. It should be noted that cold-pressed means'at a temperature not to exceed 80.6°F.'

Extra-virgin olive oil -- Using its low acid content, it's an superb choice in everything you cook such as salad dressings, vegetables, pasta, bean dishes, and grilled fish. A drizzle or two adds wonderful richness and body in soups and sauces, too.

Pomace oil -- Should be used with caution. It is made of the last 5-8% of petroleum left from the mash after the higher grades of oil are eliminated in earlier pressings. Although the pomace oil that is extracted is still technically from olives, it's eliminated using chemical solvents, and therefore should never be termed, indirectly or directly, as"olive oil."

Transparency and worries

Compared to other types of olive oils, however, extra-virgin olive oils are the most commonly scrutinized. A helpful website to get up-to-the-minute research, information, and facts about the olive oil you plan to buy is The Olive Oil Times, that is dedicated to rigorous testing and ingredient transparency in the olive oils sold around the world.

Furthermore, unregulated olive pomace oil sometimes contains harmful elements known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) like benzopyrene, which research has shown to be highly carcinogenic and mutagenic.

Buying guide

Olive oil tastes best when it is fresh. When you are choosing, look for oils that have a clear"harvest date" over the last year on the label, or with at least a year to go before its"best by" date. If you can, ask the merchant for a sample of the petroleum, to determine if you want the taste. Anything that smells stale, such as cardboard or older walnuts, is likely rancid.

Also, consider the origin. Just because it says"made in Italy" on the label, doesn't mean that the olives rose in Italy. The very best olive oil has been grown, produced, and bottled from a single area.


As soon as you start the container, the oil starts to degrade quickly, losing its complex flavor profile. Never store the oil onto the kitchen counter, or next to the cooker, as light and heat can accelerate this degradation.

Store in a dark green glass bottle to keep the light out, as sunlight can oxidize the chlorophyll from the oil and make it taste stale. Store your bottle tucked away in a pantry or cupboard. Use open bottles within a few months, but sealed bottles can last up to two years if kept in a cool, dark environment.

How to cook with it

There is some controversy, especially extra-virgin olive oil, but in fact, even extra-virgin olive oils can be heated in various cooking procedures. With a smoke point of 410 degrees, extra-virgin olive oil is absolutely fine for many cooking applications, even deep-frying. However, most cooks don't usually use olive oil for frying because it is not always economical to use in such large quantities.

No matter what you pick, keep in mind that olive oil, especially compared to more neutral oils, carries a whole lot of flavor to the food, so choose one that you believe will pair well with what you are cooking, no matter how you're cooking it.

Sautéing: Try a mild, buttery oil for a quick vegetable sauté.

Poaching: Use a gentle fairly inexpensive oil for poaching delicate fish.

Frying: Use an economical oil that's filtered for deep-frying, because you are going to need a fair amount of it.

Searing: A medium-bodied, fruity oil, as long as it is not overheated and burned, is an superb way to add yet another layer to a steak or chicken breast.

Baking: A buttery olive oil is the perfect butter substitute for cakes and breads.

Finishing: Utilize your fruitiest most robust oils for drizzling on the surface of soups, more roasted vegetables, or as the main ingredient at a homemade aioli or salad dressingtable.

Advantages vs disadvantages

Olive oil is a crucial part of the Mediterranean diet and is one of the healthiest of all the vegetable oils out there. It's easy to find, as long as you are adept at reading labels and doing some research on manufacturers, and tastes excellent on almost anything.

However, it can be confusing to find reputable brands that are what they say they are, and when you do, olive oil can be more expensive than a lot of other kinds of oil out there. Olive oil doesn't have the best shelf life, either, so this can either be a good thing (you get to use a great deal of it!) Or a bad thing (hurry up and utilize that petroleum )!


Olive oil is an excellent and welcome addition to today's diets. It is used with Paleo, Whole30, and a very low carb diet; they welcome healthy fats compared to the restricted fat diets popular a generation ago.

Nutritional profile each serving

1 tablespoon of olive oil has 119 calories, 10g monounsaturated fat, 1.4g polyunsaturated fat, and 1.9g saturated fat.

Health benefits of olive oil

The health benefits have been the subject of numerous studies about heart disease, metabolism, depression, and cancer prevention. 1 study published found that the olive-derived chemical oleuropein aids the body secrete more insulin, a central signaling receptor within the body that controls metabolism.

Olive oil supports one of the main pillars of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid: to eat more healthy fats and fewer saturated fats. Because olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, (healthy fats), and also high in antioxidants, it can be a powerful anti-inflammatory and protect cells against oxidization and free radicals.

It's also been proven to help lower LDL cholesterol and lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain kinds of cancer, including breast cancer.

The healthful fats in olive oil can act as a sustained source of vitality; individuals who consumed olive oil can feel full longer, which can lead to weight loss. And as if that isn't enough, adding olive oil to your diet can prevent cognitive decline; bring about brain health, mood stability and suitable hormone development.