Olive oil has been around since ancient times. In the year 3000 BC, the Greeks and Romans used olive oil in cooking and in the composition of cosmetic products. Generally attributed to the Mediterranean diet, olive oil consumption has increased over the past decade from 35% in southern Europe and more than 100% in the U.S.. Emphasis is placed on a product with beneficial properties for health and the art of living!
Olive Oil as a Factor of Longevity
You may remember Jeanne Calment, this French native of Arles, in Provence, who died at age 122. The former dean of humanity is regarded as “forgotten by God.” She did not hesitate to reveal the secret of her youth: She said that olive oil had safely preserved her body because of daily application, and admitted she took in a high consumption of olive oil. It is difficult to find such an exceptional case, still there is an increased presence of centenarians in populations that consume lots of olive oil, especially among followers of the Mediterranean and Cretan diet.
Prevention of Heart and Circulatory Diseases
According to Dr. Luigi Fontana, an expert in longevity at the University of Washington, olive oil, with a balanced content of linoleic and arachidonic acids, facilitates the elimination of cholesterol through the intestines, while reducing LDL (“bad” cholesterol) intake, by lowering the potential of sclerosis of the arteries and causes a decrease in the incidence of heart circulatory system diseases.
Olive Oil to Prevent Cancer
Several scientific studies have shown to prevent heart disease, reduces levels of “bad” for “good” cholesterol and prevents cancer, besides acting on blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and cellular aging.
Several studies, including one that was unveiled by the European Journal of Cancer Prevention in 2004 showed that cases of mortality associated with these diseases are less prevalent in Mediterranean countries that have a diet based on olive oil.
The abundance of various antioxidants, which are anticancer agents, is the cause of this phenomenon. Priority should be given the olive picual, which is the most common oil in Spain, because it contains the highest antioxidant levels.
“Extra virgin” please!
Opt for “extra virgin “olive oil because it is the best in terms of quality and most flavorful of all olive oils. A recent study in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine showed that people who added one or two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in their daily diet showed an increase of 1.74 mg-dl “good” cholesterol (HDL). Another study shows that a one-point increase in HDL results in a decrease of two to three per cent in the risk of contracting cardiovascular disease.
Enjoy your Olive Oil!
This oil can be fresh and spicy, fruity bitter, blackberry, green or black, with hints of apple or tomato, there is something for every taste and every dish. Try to identify several one you prefer. As the taste of wine depends on the olive oil on several factors: the country where the olives are grown, the variety of olives and their maturity when picked. Enjoy the oils from different regions (Italy, Spain, Greece, California, France and even Chile) to a culinary journey with your taste buds.
Just like the wine and grape varieties, each variety of olive differ in aroma and taste, but one cannot identify the flavors in different countries. One could do against a link between the aroma of green apple with Arbequina Esp agne Koroneiki and Greece.
Beware Of Fakes!
The journalist Tom Mueller, the New Yorker, reports that in 2005 the Italian police confiscated hundreds of thousands of gallons of fake olive oil, the value of six million euros. The latter was the quality of soybean oil and canola oil color on industrial added in chlorophyll, beta-carotene flavor and packed in boxes that simulated the labels of olive oil country.
You should be wary of all the oils that are sold cheaply. It is known that olive oils sold in bulk and in some brands of bottled oils which are not of known provenance, are often mixed with other oils. In addition, some of these bottles often do not have any expiration date. Knowing the market for olive oil, the cost of production and transportation costs for imports, low prices are an indication that something is wrong.
A dark bottle ensures a better conservation of the oil. Beware of pale and smelly olive oils, offered at low prices.
Understanding the Terms Used with Respect to Olive Oil
Cold extraction. No heat is used to extract oil from olives. It is strongly recommended, as excessive heat destroys the flavor and reduces the polyphenols!
Extra-virgin. This oil contains more antioxidants and is low in acidity. It can be eaten raw and used for cooking.
Pure. A refined olive oil with solvents, to which a small percentage of extra virgin olive oil is added to give it a little taste and color.
Light: Another way to name the refined olive oil, since it has no taste. “Light” refers to the flavor and not calories.
No Filter: The oil can be used in small quantities, but has the advantage of preserving all its natural properties after cooking.