I have come across so many articles about how great Olive Oil is and its many benefits. So, I thought this necessitates a blog entry this Saturday evening as I was confused about some terms like virgin, extra-virgin and cold pressing.
What is it?
Olive Oil is a natural juice(fat) of the Olive fruit that preserves the nutrients, taste and other aspects of the this fruit of this traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean basin. Olive oil is a core component of the Mediterranean diet (more on that in the future) and allowed in SCD(slow carb diet). This extract is rich in beneficial monounsaturated fats and its anti-oxidant substances. If confused about anti-oxidants read my blog post about another important anti-oxidant here.
How is it produced? Different types of Olive Oil? (I was confused about the following part the most)
Olive Oil can be extracted from the Olive fruit by chemical or mechanical means. Mechanical means are the best and involve less processing. These terms do not guarantee the quality or standard of Olive Oil, however, a good health food store will generally carry the top 2 varieties. The following is a list in descending quality and nutritional benefit :-
- Extra virgin - extracted of the first processing of just ripe olives, it is the least processed and it is certainly the most nutrient rich. Involves no chemical treatment at all and has less than 1% acidity.
- Virgin - extracted from the second processing of olives whose ripeness may be more. Its acidity is around 1.5% or less.
- Pure - has some filtering and refining and it usually lacks strong flavor. This processed, blended variety has higher acidity than 1.5%
- Extra light, Refined Olive Oil and Olive oil - have varying degrees of processing involved and maybe considerably less beneficial than the top 2 in this list. Variable levels of acidity which may be high sometimes and not good for us.
Like I said before Olive oil in a heath food store should really be in the top 3 types(really 2) only. Since there are not many standards and governance around the above mentioned terms, take them with a grain of salt and experiment and really examine the contents to make sure the olive oil will be what the label says.
What is cold-pressing?
Olive oil is produced by extracting the juice from the Olive fruit by mashing them. Olive presses were used and traditionally operated by hand. This first pressing produced very little oil and was called "cold pressing". All extra virgin Olive Oil should be cold pressed to preserve its nutritional benefits.
What are its benefits?
- IMHO, Olive oil is rich in beneficial anti-oxidants and may be an important cancer fighter.
- May be an important blood pressure(BP) regulator.
- May even help lower LDL (low density lipo-protein) cholestrol - the bad kind.
- May help with obesity as well.
- Supposed to help against osteoporosis.
- Also, maybe effective against stones in kidney and bladder.
As part of the slow carb diet that I am on, I am consuming enough olive oil everyday - definitely more than 2 tablespoons of extra virgin cold pressed. Coming up next Macadamia Oil. Happy Weekend!
- Gary Saggu