Wednesday, March 30, 2011

FUEL Better: Olive Oil

Since ancient times, the olive tree has provided food, fuel, timber and medicine for many civilizations, and has been regarded as a symbol of peace and wisdom. The venerable oil of the olive has been consumed since as early as 3,000 B.C.
The Spanish and Portuguese explorers brought Olives to the Americas during the 15th and 16th centuries. Mediterranean countries consider olive oil a staple. Since the discovery of the link between a Mediterranean diet and a reduced risk of heart disease and other health conditions has made olive oil even more popular in the American diet.
Olive oil is made from the crushing and then subsequent pressing of olives. Extra virgin olive oil is derived from the first pressing of the olives and has the most delicate flavor and most antioxidant benefits. Cold-pressed oil means that less heat was used in the extracting process. It is suggested that cold-pressed oil offers more health benefits due to the lack of heat exposure. Heat tends to denature or destroy vital nutrients.
Although olive oil is a good source of monounsaturated fats (discussed in detail previous blog) it is the Polyphenols in olive oil is responsible for its health benefits not the fat as some may expect.
This rich supply of polyphenols, are known to have anit-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticoagulant actions. Research is also showing that these polyphenols are protective against colon cancer and osteoporosis or bone loss.
Other health benefits of the polyphenols in Olive Oil:
·          Protection against chronic degenerative disease
·          Protective against Heart Disease
·          Better Blood Sugar Control
·          Helps Prevent Belly Fat and Improve Insulin Sensitivity
·          Protect DNA from Free Radical Damage
·          Supports Gastrointestinal Health and Protective against Helicobacter pylori

Tips to increase olive oil in your daily diet:
1.     Instead of butter, fill a small condiment dish with extra virgin olive oil for use on bread, rolls, potatoes or other vegetables.
2.     For more flavors, add a few drops of balsamic vinegar or a sprinkle spices into the olive oil.
3.     Consume olive oil based salad dressing
4.     Toss any vegetable in 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil and bake on 450F for 30-45 minutes (until tender) and salt and pepper to taste!
5.     Cook favorite greens, mustards, cabbage or turnips with a ¼ cup olive oil to a large pot and substitute low sodium vegetable broth from water.

Tips to purchasing and storing olive oil:
Olive oil can become rancid from exposure to light and heat. Look for olive oils that are sold in dark tinted bottles and oil is displayed in a cool area, away from direct or indirect light or heat.
The same should apply for storing olive oil at home. Olive oil should be stored properly and used within a few months to ensure its healthy phytonutrients remain intact and available. It is idle to use and replace olive oil within in 6 months of purchase date.
Choosing the right olive oil for you:
To make matters more complicated there a variety of different grades of olive oil, including extra-virgin, fine/light virgin, refined and pure.
Extra-virgin is the unrefined oil made from the first pressing of the olives and has the most delicate flavor. Cold-pressed extra virgin is the same process but minimal heat is involved in the process.  
Virgin is also derived from the first pressing of the olives but has a higher acidity level than extra virgin olive oil (has less phytonutrients and a less delicate taste).
Do not be fooled by the term “pure” on the label! It means the oil is made from a blend of refined and virgin olive oils. Pure oil is a bit of a contradiction and a marketing hoax! It’s not bad but it isn’t any better!
Cooking with the right oil olive:
The many varieties of olive oil also offer a range of taste, from a milder-taste to a strong olive flavor. Some are better for salad dressings, while others are better for cooking. Choosing the right olive oil can make an impact on your dish!  
All olive oils offer health benefits in their own right. When it comes to cooking ask how much olive flavor do I want in my dish?
If you answered: Tons of Olive Flavor
Use: Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil provides the richest olive flavor. Extra Virgin Olive Oil tends to be golden-green with an intense fruitiness and a light, peppery finish that makes it the obvious choice when you want to really taste that olive flavor as an ingredient in your dish. All Extra Virgin Olive Oils are good for using straight up or in cooking and even baking where olive flavor is desired.
  • Salads Dressings
  • Drizzle over steamed or roasted vegetables.
  • Use for sautéing vegetables or meats.
  • Drizzle over finished roasted or grilled meats.
  • Use in Italian breads like pizza crust, focaccia and olive bread.
  • Drizzle over fresh vegetables.
  • Use for dipping crusty bread.
  • Adding a touch of oil over a hot dish just before serving: soup or pasta. 

If you answered: A little olive flavor but not an overkill
Use: Pure Olive Oil
Pure Olive Oil provides a more neutral flavor and lighter golden color than Extra Virgin, ideal for cooking and baking where you want a touch of olive flavor but not a primary flavor in the dish. Pure Olive Oil is also good for grilling, frying, roasting and sautéing vegetables and meats. Use in marinades for grilled meats and vegetables.
If you answered: No olive flavor, please
USE: Extra Light Olive Oil
Extra Light Olive Oil is extra light in olive flavor, not in calories - all olive oil has the same calorie count. This light olive oil is perfect for baking sweets and breads where the classic olive oil flavor might be undesirable. Extra Light Olive Oil also works well for sautéing, grilling and frying.
  • Substitute for butter in cakes, cookies, muffins and pancakes.
  • Use in breads or pizza crust.
  • Extra light oil has a high smoke point and can be used for high –heat frying.
  • Grease grills, griddles or pans before cooking.

To ensure you get all the health benefits from olive oil consume a variety or stick to extra virgin oil olive as the staple in your pantry. Although olive oil is a super star fat it is still a fat and high in calorie use responsibly!

1 comment:

  1. There's nothing better than good extra virgin olive oil! I have it with all my meals! Specially European olive oil, super healthy! Cheers!