Olive Oil – A Virgin Way to Stay Healthy

O-Live it up with olive oil

Olive Oil

Olive oil extracted from the olive fruits. It is primarily used by Mediterranean countries such as Spain, Italy and Greece for cooking, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and other purposes. In India, though, olive oil is mostly used for beauty treatments like massage and facials.

Health Benefits of Olive Oil
The process of extracting olive oil may be mechanical or chemical depending on the grade of oil being extracted. Research suggests that a high amount of monounsaturated fats in the diet reduces the risk of coronary heart disease. Since olive oil is significantly rich in monounsaturated fats (especially oleic acid), its utility as far as healthy diet is concerned, can hardly be missed.

Some of the other health benefits of olive oil include,

  • cholesterol regulation and blood sugar control
  • Helps in oxidising bad cholesterol (LDL)
  • It protects against heart disease by controlling the “bad” levels of LDL cholesterol and increasing the levels of good cholesterol (HDL).
  • Olive oil can also lower blood sugar levels and blood pressure

Knowing more about olive oil
Even though the health effects of olive oil are undeniable, indiscriminate and ignorant use of olive oil can lead to more harm than good.

Usually green olives tend to produce more bitter oil while overripe olives can produce rancid oil, i.e. oil which will produce toxic by-products and a bitter taste. Hence it’s very important that care is taken to produce good extra virgin olive oil.

In this context it is noteworthy to mention that olive oil comes in various grades, viz., extra virgin olive oil, refined olive oil, olive oil, olive pomace oil, etc. In India despite the awareness in some quarters that olive oil is good for health and extra virgin olive oil is the best one can get, its use in an uninformed way has led to further health hazards. Therefore it is important that one knows the specific use of each grade of oil.

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: This grade of olive oil is considered to be the highest with superior taste and aroma. It is produced from the olive fruit within 24 hours of harvesting by cold pressing. Extra virgin olive oil is used for garnishing food and preparing cold dishes like dressing salad, rice and vegetables, meat and fish etc. However deep frying or heating is not recommended though it can be used for sauteing.
  • Refined olive oil: Indian cuisines mostly require high levels of heating. Therefore refined olive oil, which is obtained from refining virgin oil by using physical and chemical filters is highly recommended. Borges, one of the renowned producers from Spain has special variant specifically targeted for the Indian consumer which is a blend of refined olive oil with extra virgin olive oil.