What Are The Essential Benefits Of Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
There's a mystery behind extra virgin olive oil and it's health benefits. Not much is known about the incredible cooking oil. It's got the power to benefit your health in a variety of ways. It can also make a dish a million times more appetizing. Pasta, drizzled over a salad, on a burrata, you name it, we've done it with olive oil.
Shopping at the supermarket, we generally tend to get a bit confused when picking between cooking oils. Why extra virgin? What does it mean? You have to understand that there's a slight difference that can make your healthy dishes all the better. definitely not refined olive oil.
What is extra virgin olive oil? How is it made?
Olive oil is the broad term used to describe the natural fruit juice of the olive. There are various grades of olive oil, each having distinct differences in health benefits, usages, etc.. Extra virgin olive oil is the maximum quality and is essentially the pure, unadulterated juice of fresh, healthy olives. In an ideal environment, the fruit is harvested when it is still green and just starting to ripen.
To make certain maximum flavor and health benefits are extracted, the freshly harvested fruit makes its way into the mill in two to four hours. When the fruit is at the mill it is squished into an emulsified paste with a hammer mill. This emulsion of fruit, crushed pits, oil, and water then makes its way into the malaxer. This is where the temperature-controlled "cold processing" happens.
In the malaxer, which acts as a giant churn, the emulsion is broken and oil is extracted from the paste or pomace. A centrifuge removes the liquids from the solids, then in the final step, the oil is removed from the water from the separator.
This fresh oil, which was on a shrub that same day, then makes its way to nitrogen capped settling tanks to keep out the oxygen and light. Once the sediment settles to the bottom they're able to slurp all the purified good oil off the top, combine it with other fresh varietals, bottle it, and get it into stores.
What are the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil?
Research shows that the healthy fat profile of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, along with other minor elements (such as antioxidants and vitamin E) are mainly responsible for the health benefits. It is really important to select a fresh, antioxidant-rich extra virgin olive oil, to make sure that you are reaping the health benefits.
Think of it similar to fruit juice: a juice won't be good for you if it has gone off or has been made with rotten fruit. Extra virgin olive oil has a long list of well-evidenced health benefits as an individual food and also as the main cooking medium in the Mediterranean diet. There are a handful of main health benefits to pay attention to in EVOO.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is packed with bioactive compounds known as Biophenols/polyphenols. These biophenols are responsible for the special taste of EVOO and supply the body with a potent source of free radical fighting antioxidants.
There is an abundance of research showing that EVOO as part of the Mediterranean diet is good for heart health. The FDA even allows a health claim on olive oils based on their health monounsaturated fat profile.
No other food comes close to EVOO for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease.
EVOO is also one of the only foods to contain high levels of healthy chemical squalene. Squalene is a natural antioxidant that is used in cosmetic and personal care, a health supplement, and pharmaceutical channels. It has been associated with a variety of health benefits mainly associated with heart health and cholesterol health.
Cooking with EVOO enables and encourages a diet rich in vegetables, making a plant predominate diet enjoyable and sustainable.
Do you still get the health benefits of olive oil if you use it as cooking oil?
It's a common misconception that you shouldn't be cooking with extra virgin olive oil. There's a lack of scientific evidence to back up this claim. Evidence backs the fact that EVOO is an extremely stable and suitable for all kinds of cooking -- BBQ, sautéing, deep-frying, shallow frying and oven backing.
When you cook with extra virgin olive oil it actually has the ability to enhance healthy attributes of other ingredients. Fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, and K) are better absorbed by the body when cooked in EVOO. EVOO also helps with the absorption of some critical nutrients in vegetables such as kale, broccoli, tomatoes, and carrots.
A high-quality EVOO will have a high smoke point, lending itself to any application. We do have to keep in mind that the smoke point is not the best predictor of an oil's performance. Oxidative stability is a much better gauge
Oxidative stability measures the performance of oil when heated over periods of time. New research demonstrates that EVOO is one of the safest and most stable oils to cook with. In this research, seed oils have been found to be the least stable and generated the highest amount of polar compounds when heated.
Polar compounds are a by-product when oil is subjected to heat and some of them are demonstrated to be detrimental to health and linked to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
- Neil Naran