The truth about olive oil is it not only tastes delicious but it contributes to your health and wellbeing.
Many are not aware of its’ healing effects. It has anti-aging properties that make it perfect for the skin as it contains antioxidants from vitamin E and K. It is good for the hair because it is monounsaturated fat. Hair can absorb this type of fat, so the use of it helps retain hydration.
An essential component of the Mediterranean Diet, olive oil is rich in nutrients, but it also has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Since inflammation is the root cause of many diseases such as cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s, and arthritis research suggests that olive oil can reduce levels of C-reactive protein (CRP).
Some Fascinating Facts
A fascinating fact is that 3.4 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil equates to 10% of the adult ibuprofen dose. (1)
Olive trees have been growing in the Mediterranean since the 8th millennium BC.
The oil was often used in religious rites. The oldest olive oil ever discovered in modern times dates back 8000 + years and was discovered in Israel in 2014. (2)
The main olive oil producers are Spain, Italy, Tunisia, Greece, and Turkey but other countries such as the United States, Chili, and Australia also grow olives. Greeks consume the most olive oil per capita, an amazing 20 liters per person per year on average (3).
What is the difference between olive oil and extra virgin olive oil?
The process of extracting the oil from the olives and the level of free oleic acid is what differentiates the oil. It is not the different grades or types of olives that you might expect.
Extra virgin olive oil, which is an unrefined oil, has a darker color and a more pungent aroma. The olives are at their optimum ripeness when picked. The temperature is not altered in the process and there are no added chemicals. It contains less than 1% oleic acid.
Many consider the more expensive oil to be a finishing oil. Use it for dipping bread, as a dressing and sprinkled liberally over fresh and grilled vegetables. You do not want to cook with it, as raising the temperature defeats the purpose.
For cooking purposes, you want to use regular or pure olive oil. The oleic acid measures between 3 and 4% and this is often a blend of cold-pressed and processed oils.
Host A Tasting
At your next get-together, consider doing a tasting with three or four extra virgin oils. Just like fine wines, different regions produce variations in flavor. If you want to up the taste experience.
It is so easy to set up a table with a variety of bread, (hard and soft), soft cheeses like goat cheese, roasted veggies, fresh or dried figs, or other fruits and nuts. Use small saucers or cups to pour out the oils and give everyone a small notepad to keep track of their tastings.
Paired with wines, you and your guests will have a wonderful time ranking the oils. Your taste buds will thank you.