Thursday, February 4, 2010

Benefits of Olive Oil

On Saturday I headed to my favorite grocery store, Fortinos and I saw some olive oil on sale so I put it in my cart. When I turned around there was this adorable little Italian lady who had about 4 bottles of olive oil in her cart, but it wasn't the kind that I had. She said (in a thick Italian accent) "These is the same price (pointing to her bottles of olive oil), these are mucha better." I decided that it would be smart to take her advice, after all, I could just tell that she was a great cook, there was just something about her. Plus she's Italian, and if anyone knows olive oil, it's Italians (and the Greeks). When I got home I decided to do a little research to find out what makes one type of olive oil superior to the next. I also knew that olive oil is beneficial in lowering LDL cholesterol, but I wanted to see what else it can help with. Here's what I discovered.

How to select good quality olive oil
When purchasing olive oil, you should choose Extra Virgin olive oil as it is of the highest quality. Extra Virgin olive oil is derived from the first pressing of the olives, without chemicals, and has the most flavour and anti-oxidant benefits.

Stay away from "pure" or "light" olive oil. Don't be fooled if you see the term "pure" or "light" on the label; it means the oil is a blend of refined and virgin olive oils and possibly cut with other oils.

Since olive oil can become rancid from exposure to light and heat. Look for olive oils that are sold in dark tinted bottles since the packaging will help protect the oil from oxidation caused by exposure to light. In addition, make sure the oil is displayed in a cool area, away from any direct or indirect contact with heat.

Health Benefits of Olive Oil
There are so many benefits of olive oil so forgive me if I forget to mention some.

1. Using olive oil in place of other fats (butter, corn oil, hydrogenated oil) can help prevent heart disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer, and asthma.

2. Olive oil is rich in anti-oxidants and as we all know by now, anti-oxidants keep us youthful. The vitamin E in olive oil is an antioxidant. In addition, monounsaturated fatty acids are less easily damaged by oxygen than other types of fat. They are therefore less likely to produce free radicals, which damage cell membranes and contribute to several diseases.

3. Use when constipated (I don't have a problem with this, but I hear this works) take 1 teaspoon of olive oil mixed with lemon juice on an empty stomach.

4. The monounsaturated fatty acids in olive oil help lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels without affecting HDL ("good") cholesterol or triglyceride levels.

Sounds pretty good eh? If you're looking for a recipe that has a lot of olive oil, try pesto.
Next week I'll be posting some other benefits (beauty secrets) of olive oil, or EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) as Rachel Ray would put it.

Me Ka Aloha (with love)

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