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The King of the Mediterranean Cuisine-The Olive

The King of the Mediterranean Cuisine-The Olive

The King of the Mediterranean Cuisine-The Olive

20/01/2021

There! We said it! We truly believe the olive enjoys a status of royalty in the Mediterranean diet. The fruit has long been considered sacred and its oil is believed to be a source of healing by many religions and cultures that are native to the Mediterranean Sea belt. The claims are not without merit as you will see. But we will get to that a little later. First, let us understand what exactly extra virgin olive oil is.

What is Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Olive oil essentially is extracted and processed through several methods. What we will be talking about is the highest-grade variety that retains most of its nutritional profile, hence offering maximum health benefits. That is the first cold pressed extra virgin olive oil.

In simple words, the fresh juice from the olives is called extra virgin olive oil. It is produced through mechanical pressing of the olives, with no use of chemicals our heat. 

‘First cold press’ isn’t a grade of olive oil, but a method through which extra virgin olive oil is extracted. For the oil to be extra virgin, it shouldn't be exposed to any excessive heat. So, in a way, all extra virgin oil needs to be first cold pressed. 

Now that we have the basics out of the way, let us talk about how good EVOO can be for you!

Health benefits of the olive oil

· Combats inflammation: All diseases begin in the gut. One of the most common ailments today is chronic gut inflammation. Extra virgin olive oil is proven to be very effective in reducing inflammation. Oleocanthal, one of the 30 compounds present in EVOO, works to reduce inflammation. Oleic acid, a fatty acid found in olive oil reduces C-reactive protein levels that are related to high inflammation.

· Protects against heart disease: Studies show that olive oil improves the blood vessels lining, which in turn prevents excessive blood clotting. It lowers blood pressure and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels.

· Helps treat Rheumatoid Arthritis: Olive oil combined with fish oil significantly strengthens handgrip and reduces joint pain in people with rheumatoid arthritis. 

· Has antibacterial properties: EVOO fights against eight strains of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, that lives in the stomach and causes ulcers. Three of these strains are even resistant to antibiotics! So, if somebody says they cured their stomach illnesses using only olive oil, that may actually be true! 

· Rich in Vitamin E and K:Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that improves immunity and supports stable nerve function. Vitamin K, also fat soluble improves blood flow and reduces the risk of blood clotting. 

What is the best way to include EVOO in your diet?

While EVOO can be used for sautéing, baking and grilling, the best way to include it to your diet is to have it raw. You can:

1. Drizzle it over salads to bring it all together.

2. Add to dips like hummus for that extra punch of flavor and healthy fats.

3. Add to your breakfast granola for better brain function on a longer satiated feeling.

What is the best way to store extra Virgin olive oil?

Extra Virgin olive oil is after all a fruit juice! It is going to have particulate matter of olives in the oil, which will turn the oil rancid like any other fruit juice. For better shelf life, store EVOO in a dark glass bottle, protected from light and heat. Once you open a bottle of EVOO, we recommend consuming the contents within one to two months.

How do you shop for extra Virgin olive oil?

For those of us who have shopped for olive oil, know that there are too many options on the shelf. It can be an overwhelming decision when you don't know what you're looking for. Some important tips to keep in mind when picking and extra virgin olive oil are:

1. Dark glass bottle with a secure top

You may have noticed that most olive oil is bottled in dark glass. How does this affect the oil? The dark color protects your oil from exposure to light, hence extending its life. Avoid bottles with cork tops as they allow air to pass through, causing oxidation rapidly even before you open the bottle. 

2. A certification on the label 

A worthy EVOO has to undergo chemical and sensory testing. It is sealed with a certificate of authenticity post testing and this seal can be found on the label. Make sure the oil you purchase has this.

3. Ingredients 

An extra Virgin olive oil should only have that as its ingredient. 

4. Harvest date 

The harvest date is an indication of when the olives were harvested. Ideally, the harvest date should be as recent as possible. 

Where can I buy extra virgin olive oil from in India?

 With the recent exposure to healthy eating lifestyles, a greater number of Indians are now becoming aware of the advantages of olive oil to one’s health. There are quite a few great imported brands that offer extra virgin olive oil like Borges, Figaro and Bertolli and Leonardo. You can find different varieties of olive oil on online shopping sites like Amazon, India Mart etc. 

Even with all its benefits, extra virgin olive oil should be had in moderation like any other oil.

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