There are different types of oil which we use in our day to day lives. Some have more health benefits than others. It is very important to know the different advantages of using a particular type of cooking oil. You need to compare the different oils on the basis of their flavour, health quotient, high heating points for frying etc.
Today lets us look at the interesting nutrition facts of Olive oil.
Olive oil is one of the oldest culinary oils. In ancient Greek times, Olive was a symbol of prosperity and so was used for cooking as well as burning lamps. One Olive tree can produce upto 4 litres of oil annually for 1000’s of years. Today, Olive oils are broadly classified as “pure” to “extra virgin” on the basis of their level of acidity. This is important to know, because a high level of acidity detracts from the flavour of the oil.
Remember that all Olive oil labels should show the percentage of acidity, grade of the oil, volume and country of origin. If the label also shows the name of the producer and the farm or the village of production, then it is made with care and ideally should be of high quality.
The traditional method of Olive oil is to crush the Olives between two opposing stone wheels until the fruit is reduced to pulp. This pulp is then spread on the mat and stacked up one above the other and pressed down in weights. This traditional method is known as the “cold pressed method”. The pressure from weights is low, so heat is not built up in the pulp resulting in a superior quality of oil. Cold pressed oils are superior in quality. Please check the labels before buying Olive oil.
Olive oil is always graded on the level of acidity. The higher the level of acidity, the less aromatic the olive oil will be. Extra virgin oil with only 1% of acidity will be the finest. It is followed by fine virgin Olive oil with a maximum of 1.5% of acidity, while the virgin Olive oil will have as much as 3% of acidity.
Different types of Olive oil are listed below.
Italian Olive oil.
Olive oil is produced in most of the countries near the Mediterranean region. The oils from Tuscany and Umbria are one of the finest Olive oils. The local consortium has rigorous quality controls to maintain good quality Olive oil.
Spanish Olive Oil.
After Italy, Spain is the largest Olive oil producer in the world. They have some very good brands like Borjas Blanca etc., which produce some of the finest labels of Spanish Olive Oil.
Greek Olive Oil.
Greece is the 3rd largest producer of Olive oil. The quality of this Olive oil varies as they do not have very stringent quality control checks for Olive oil. It is said that an average single person consumes 23 litres of Olive oil annually, which is by far the largest per capita consumption worldwide.
French Olive Oil.
French Olive oil production is very low, but the quality is very high. Most of the oil producing groves are in the south and in other areas like Nyons, Valle des Baux etc. Olive oils produced here are generally of superior quality.
Best ways of cooking in Olive oil.
- Virgin and extra virgin Olive oils can be best used uncooked or at very low temperatures.
- Refined Olive oil can be used for frying.
- You can also blend the Olive oil with other oils like sunflower, refined vegetable oil to adjust to the flavour of the food.
- Olive oil is used for seasoning fruits, vegetables, salads and soups. At the same time it is used for cooking in different cuisines, all around the world.
- All of us enjoy freshly baked breads with a drizzle of Olive oil. Most of the European countries have their own version of grilled bread like garlic bread, croutons etc.
- Olive oil is an essential in all Italian pasta sauces which have other ingredients like tomatoes, garlic, basil and chillies.
- Mayonnaise made in Olive oil and flavoured with fresh herbs and garlic is enjoyed in Spain and France.
- Many Olive oils are already flavoured with herbs, other oils, lemon or garlic to enhance its flavour.
- It is important to store Olive oil away from the light in a dark container or bottle. Oil purchased in bulk should be poured into smaller containers for daily use.
Some of the health benefits of Olive oil are listed below –
- Olive oil contains high oleic acid which helps in reducing blood pressure.
- It is high in antioxidants like carotenoids and vitamin E.
- Extra Virgin Olive oil is mostly cold pressed and so no chemicals are added to it, which makes it fresh and extremely healthy. The fresher the Olive oil, the better is the taste.
- Modern research has indicated that Olive oil is protective against cancer, digestive ailments, heart diseases and many other diseases.
- Research Studies have further indicated that it reduces bad cholesterol (LDL) and increases the levels of good cholesterol.
- It is good for your skin and hair as it softens your skin and also prevents cell destruction and signs of aging.
These are some of the interesting nutrition facts about Olive oil which can help you to choose and select the right type of Olive oil in your food.
Please read our earlier article Healthy Teas.
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