Dietary advice around fats in the U.S. is changing. In prior decades, Americans were encouraged to consume a low fat diet, however, research has pointed to the dangers of that advice and also to the health benefits of ingesting specific dietary fats. Today, more Americans are heeding the advice to include more health-promoting fats in their diets such as the monounsaturated fat found in extra virgin olive oil.
A Minimally-Processed, Complete Food
Extra virgin olive oil is derived from the unprocessed fruit of the shrub. During processing, the fruit is simply crushed to extract the oil content at a temperature no higher than 86 degrees Fahrenheit, thus preserving both its nutritional benefits and complex flavors.
By contrast, canola, corn, soybean, and vegetable oils have to be chemically-extracted, refined, bleached and deodorized. With its minimal processing, extra virgin olive oil is essentially a fruit juice.
Excellent Fat Profile
Extra virgin olive oil contains uniquely substantial levels of oleic acid, about 75 percent, compared to 60 percent in canola and corn oils. This monounsaturated fat helps reduce overall blood cholesterol levels by lowering LDL (often referred to as"bad") cholesterol levels in the blood whilst maintaining and, even increasing, HDL (often referred to as"good") cholesterol levels.
A diet rich in monounsaturated fats, such as those found in olive oil, nuts, and seeds, plays a protective role against many diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, obesity, type-2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
One characteristic that puts extra virgin olive oil apart from other oils is its extremely high levels of polyphenols. These chemicals act as antioxidants and protect cells against unwanted inflammation and disease, such as various types of cancer and atherosclerosis. Extra virgin olive oil contains more polyphenols than other olive oils.
High levels of the antioxidant vitamin E in olive oil also protect cells from damaging free radicals. Vitamin E is often recommended to support skin health and reduce aging effects. Another antioxidant in olive oil, oleocanthal, is the same substance found in the drug ibuprofen and is thought to be responsible for the pungent taste in olive oil.
Cooking and Storage for Optimal Nutrition
By keeping extra virgin olive oil in a cool, dark place in a closed container, the large nutrient levels are maintained longer. The fresher the oil, the higher its profile. Extra virgin olive oil should be purchased over 12 to 18 months of its harvest date.
Start looking for the harvest date embedded in the COOC Seal or notated somewhere on the bottle. Once opened, most olive oils must be consumed within 6 months. Because extra virgin olive oil can be safely used in a diverse range of cooking applications, such as sautéing, baking, grilling, or simply drizzling on foods, it should not linger long in your kitchen shelf!