Olive Oil Explained: A Guide To Healthy Cooking

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Ever since people started looking for healthy cooking options, olive oil has become a part of their monthly grocery list. But do we know all about this supposedly healthy cooking option?

Olives are amongst the oldest foods known to mankind and today even their oil is gaining popularity, despite the fact it has been in existence for a very long time. It is quite surprising that even though it has been around for so long, people are still only just discovering about it. Not only it makes your food taste delicious, olive oil nutrition is also something that makes it a healthy cooking choice. It is loaded with essential fatty acids and high amounts of antioxidants required by human body on daily basis. 

Now a days, olive oil is used not only for cooking, but also in cosmetics, medicines, soaps, etc. Originally, olive oil has its roots belonging to the Mediterranean countries. 

Before we get into olive oil benefits, lets take a brief look at what all variety of oil is available in the market and how they are different from each other. 

Extra Virgin Olive Oil: This olive oil is obtained after the first pressing of olives and is usually greener than other forms of olive oils available. Extra virgin olive oil has very low acidity and is ideal for dressings, dips and marinades. 

Virgin Olive Oil: This form of olive oil is also obtained after first pressing of olives, but its slightly higher in acidity as compared to the extra virgin olive oil. It is also good for dressings and marinades but is not good enough to compete with its extra virgin version. 

Olive Oil: This is often a blend of refined oil and virgin oil. The virgin oil added to this cooking oil gives it flavor which is not available in heated and refined oils. Its a good all around oil and is better suited for cooking as it comes with a slightly higher burning point.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

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Light Olive Oil: This is the refined form of olive oil as it is obtained from the latter pressings of olives. Each subsequent pressing of olives provides light and less flavor oil variations. Here the term light only refers to the color and flavor and has nothing to do with the calorie content. This form of olive oil is suitable for frying and sautéing.

Pomace Olive Oil: The oil that is obtained from the left over flesh and pits after the olives are pressed completely is regarded as pomace olive oil. To release the remaining oil from the olives they are often treated with heat and solvents. The resulting oils are then refined so that they become fit for human consumption, because of all this refining pomace olive oil mostly lacks flavor. This form of olive oil is suitable for frying as it has high burning point. 

Early harvest Olive Oil: As the name suggests, this oil is obtained from the olives picked slightly under ripe. The under ripeness of olives makes oil slightly bitter, peppery and extra green. The smaller the olive, the lesser oil it will yield and mostly early harvest olive oil is costlier then its other variants. 

Late Harvest Olive Oil: This is the oil obtained from fully matured olives, which results in the production of smooth oil that can be described as fruity and sweetish. 

Cold Pressed Olive Oil: Here the olives are pressed without using heat. Though, for most of the olive oil variants heating method is used as it yields more oil but destroys some delicate flavors and olive oil nutrition to some extent. Cold pressing retains all those flavors in the oil that comes after. 

types of olive oil

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Benefits of Olive Oil

Though a lot has been said about olive oil health benefits, but not everyone is aware of them. Here are the important benefits that you can reap in from olive oil uses in your daily life.

1. Good for cardiovascular system 

A study published in the journal Pharmacological Research has stated that people who consume olive oil on regular basis are less likely to develop cardiovascular diseases, which includes hypertension, high blood pressure, stroke and high blood cholesterol levels. Study also concluded that regular intake of olive oil reduces inflammation, controls problems with inner linings of blood vessels and improves carbohydrate metabolism. 

2. Controls cholesterol 

Olive oils contains the minimum levels of saturated and polyunsaturated fat, which gives it an ability to control cholesterol levels in the body. Also, olive oil contains the highest amount of monounsaturated fats, around 70 to 80%, which helps in building good cholesterol and HDL in the body. 

3.  Helps in treating depression

Regular consumption of olive oil gives a boost to serotonin levels, a kind of brain chemical, and has the same effect as that of some antidepressants, thus it helps in treating depression.

benefits of olive oil

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4. Prevents alzheimer’s disease 

According to a study published in America Science Magazine, Scientific American, olive oil is a good source of an active compound named Oleocanthal, that might have Alzheimer’s preventing properties. The American Chemical Society has further backed the study with their findings, that suggested, extra virgin olive oil can improve learning and memory. 

5. Prevents the risk of breast cancer 

One Saudi Arabian study suggested that oleuropein, a natural compound found in olive oil possess potential anti breast cancer properties.

Another clinical trial conducted in Spain has stated that the women who consumed olive oil enriched diet were 62% less likely to contract breast cancer.

6. Beauty benefits

Vitamin E present in olive oil improves the health of nails and also enhances their appearance by making them shinier and healthier. Similarly, vitamin E enriched content of olive oil reduces hair fall and keeps your locks moisturized. Also, olive oil is often appreciated for its anti-aging properties, which keeps your skin younger looking for long and also moisturizes it well. 

These are some of the common, yet not so known olive oil facts that you must know before you make it a part of your daily diet.

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