Olive Oil is the nectar from the fruit of Olea Europaea (Olive Tree). The famous Greek poet Homer described it as “the liquid gold” and Hippocrates, the father of Western Medicine called it “the great healer” and generations have claimed it to be heaven’s gift to mankind.
Olives were native to the Mediterranean basin (which consists of countries spanning three different continents: Europe, Asia and Africa which includes Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Tunisia) 6,000 years ago and are among the oldest known cultivated trees in the world. The science behind the olive oil is miraculous. It is composed of triacylglycerol’s together with a small amount of free fatty acids, glycerol, phosphatides, pigments, flavour compounds and sterols. Gunaraaj Co-founder Olivistry Olive Oil, Singapore talks about the benefits of olive oil and the right usage of olive oils.
The polyphenols in olive oil are the main reason for the bitterness and astringency but also prevents oxidation from occurring. Every 10g of olive oil has 5mg of polyphenols as compared to other nut or seed oil that does not contain any polyphenols. In fact, scientists from Barcelona also discovered a key element by which extra virgin olive oil protects the body against breast cancer, in contrast to other vegetable oils.
These polyphenols are said to bring a host of benefits such as lowering of cholesterol, blood pressure and also the risk of coronary diseases. Numerous researches have shown that people of the Mediterranean region tend to have a longer life expectancy, hypertension and lower risk of heart diseases. In addition, Vitamins E (natural oxidants) and Vitamin K (commonly found in leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli) are also present in olive oil.
Benefits of Olive Oil
Now, that we have understood the chemical properties of olive oil. Below are the proven benefits of olive oil that have been backed by scientific research:
Rich in Monounsaturated Fats – The Oleic acid found in olive oil has been suggested to reduce inflammation and may provide positive effects on genes that cause cancer.
Antioxidants – It contains Vitamins E and K, which may reduce the risk of chronic diseases and also protect against Cholesterol.
Anti-inflammatory properties – Properties found in olive oil is believed to fight inflammations, which also include Oleic acid and antioxidant Oleocanthal. It is important to note that Chronic inflammation is known to be the reason behind diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s.
Prevention of stroke – Stroke is the second biggest killer in developed countries. Studies have reported that people who consume olive oil have demonstrated a lower risk of stroke.
Protection against heart diseases – Studies have shown that heart diseases are less commonly found in Mediterranean countries. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is one of the key reasons why. It protects the LCL cholesterol from oxidation hence preventing excessive blood clot but also improves the lining in the blood vessels.
Losing weight and obesity – Consuming excessive amounts of fats leads to weight gain. However, studies have indicated that consuming olive oil does not lead to weight gain. In fact, moderate amount of olive oil has demonstrated in achieving weight loss.
Alzheimer’s disease – Alzheimer’s is the buildup of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain cells. Studies suggest that olive oil may aid in fighting Alzheimer’s diseases however further research is required.
Risk of Type 2 Diabetes may be reduced – Clinical and Observational trial has demonstrated to be protective against Type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that olive oil has positive benefits on blood sugar and insulin sensitivity.
Anti-Cancer properties – The antioxidants found in the olive oil reduces the oxidative damages due to free radicals; believed to be a leading reason for cancer.
Antibacterial properties – Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium that lives in your stomach and causes stomach ulcers and stomach cancer. Studies have indicated that 30g of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, when consumed daily, can eliminate the bacteria.
How to use Olive Oil
- Olive oil balances the acidity in high-acidic foods, such as tomatoes, vinegar, wine, and lemon juice. Here are some ways of using olive oil;
- Drizzling or mixing with salads, cooked pasta or cooked vegetables.
- Marinade sauces for meat, fish, poultry and vegetables. The oil penetrates through the first few layers of the food being marinated.
- Substituting olive oil with butter for mashed or baked food.
- Mixing Extra Virgin with herbs for dips.
- Sauté with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and for cooking & deep-frying use Olive Pomace Oil.
- Consume a tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil for health benefits.
Fake Olive Oil
Adulterated olive oil is commonly found on shelves in supermarkets. End consumers are still falling prey to this scandal till date and these oils are being sold under leading major brands.
The following are the ways to spot a fake olive oil:
- Most olive oils are blended from other countries. Always look at the ingredients of oil, if it doesn’t say 100 per cent from a certain country, most likely it’s not sourced from the country of origin.
- Look at the production and expiry date. Most brands use harvest from the previous years instead of the one stated on the bottle.
- Always go for bottles that are dark as it prevents the oil from oxidising.
- A simple taste test of having a tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil would allow you to taste the freshness of the product. Real olive oil has a fruity smell and leaves a peppery taste at the back of your mouth.
In conclusion, olive oil brings upon a host of benefits for consumers opting for a healthier lifestyle. Studies have shown that using olive oil is beneficial as compared to another type of oils currently in the market. It is important to note that a healthy household of two adults uses about 1 Litre of Extra Virgin Olive Oil monthly. Invest a bit more so that you spend less on bills in the future!