It is one of the star foods of our much prized Mediterranean diet and should be the product of choice for both cooking and dressing.
Fats are foods that have a very bad reputation. So much so that it often seems that we should exclude them from our diet. Nothing is further from reality; fats are necessary for the body and we must incorporate them through the diet . Another thing is that we must try not to abuse them and choose the healthiest ones. In this sense, olive oil must be the fat of choice.
And it is that its consumption is associated with benefits for cardiovascular health, especially when it is detrimental to other less desirable types of fat.
Olive oil cardiovascular ally
What characterizes olive oil compared to other types of oils is its richness in oleic acid (monounsaturated fatty acid). In addition, it contains essential fatty acids (linoleic and linolenic) and phytosterols. This composition is the one that attributes such important properties as the reduction of total cholesterol and LDL, known as bad cholesterol. It is also associated with an increase in HDL (or good) cholesterol, and even contributes to a lower incidence of atherosclerosis.
All this makes it a preventive and therapeutic element in the treatment of cardiovascular ailments.
Olive oil and the Mediterranean diet are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease , obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension .
The olive contains antioxidant products such as vitamin E , and phenolic compounds, which prevent or slow down oxidative reactions that give rise to processes such as cell aging, the formation of cancerous substances, the appearance of atheroma plaques that impede blood circulation, etc.
Some studies suggest that monounsaturated fatty acids such as oleic may have a protective effect against age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease . The Mediterranean diet, with olive oil as the main source of fat, is also associated with increased longevity and healthy aging, and with a lower incidence of cancer: its protective effect is mainly associated with cancers such as breast, colorectal, and prostate.
Although the best way to enjoy a good olive oil is raw, in salads, on bread or in creams and cooked products, where it is a good dressing, it is also used for stir-fries, preserves, fried foods, batters, stews and a long etcetera. Sometimes sunflower oil or other oils are used for cooking and especially for frying and olive oil for seasoning. This choice may be for economic reasons, but not for health. We must bear in mind that olive oil withstands temperature well, better than sunflower oil, and spoils less, therefore it is the best choice, both raw and for cooking.
Both raw and cooked, flavored oils can also be used. They usually contain herbs and / or spices (basil, rosemary, oregano, garlic, pepper …) that enrich its flavor to offer more varieties to the palate.
The best, the extra virgin olive oil
There are many types of olive oils, which are classified by their quality characteristics, which in turn are due to the quality of the fruit and the process of obtaining the oil. Extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality, since its processing is the one that respects the antioxidants that are in it the most. It is olive juice. Others, processed with heat or chemical products, cause the loss of a good part of these substances.
- Extra virgin olive oil: it is the oil of the highest quality, its degree of acidity cannot exceed 0.8º. It is obtained only by mechanical processes, it is not subjected to refining and it comes from olives in good condition.
- Virgin olive oil: this oil is obtained by the same procedures as the extra virgin but its acidity can be higher, up to 2º.
- Olive oil: it is a mixture of refined olive oil and virgin olive oil. Refined olive oil is produced when, after mechanical procedures, the requirements to be considered virgin olive oil are not met. In these cases, the oil undergoes refining in order to improve its acidity and its organoleptic characteristics, that is, aroma, flavor, color …
- Pomace oil: it is the mixture of the oil obtained by refining the pomace and virgin olive oil. The pomace is the mass that we obtain after pressing or centrifuging the olives.
DID YOU KNOW…?
To fry, the oil must be hot enough, without it getting to smoke. The objective is that when the food is introduced, a crust is created that will give that desired crunchy consistency and will also prevent the entry of oil into the product, thus reducing the caloric content.
Who is it good for and who is not?
Actually the oil is suitable for anyone . Its beneficial properties and, above all, its positive values compared to other fats, make it the oil of choice for both dressings and cooking.
Together with olive oil we absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as A or beta-carotene (provitamin A), vitamin E, K and D. Its antioxidant effects place it as a possible ally to reduce the risk of suffering diseases related to oxidation and cell aging such as degenerative diseases and certain types of cancer. It can be beneficial in cases of high LDL cholesterol, and / or arteriosclerosis problems.
In general, it is advisable at any age and for any situation , although we must remember that it is a fat, and as such it is rich in calories. Its consumption should not be excessive and should be limited in cases of overweight or obesity , although always after limiting other nutritionally less interesting fats.
Buying and conservation advice
Olive oil is a product with a long shelf life. For your purchase we must check the label well to know what type of oil we are acquiring and we will check its good general condition. We will look for an oil with a clean, transparent, sharp appearance, without veils or turbidity.
To preserve it, despite being a durable product, we must take certain precautions. Oil, like all fat, oxidizes, and in order not to accelerate this process we will protect it from light. In addition, it will always be preferable to store it in non-metallic containers, which can also promote oxidation. The best material is glass, as it does not give flavor or substances to the product it contains: if it is dark and opaque glass, better, if not we will keep it wrapped and / or in a closet, protected from light.
What you should know…
- The consumption of olive oil is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and hypertension, among others.
- Extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality, since its processing is the one that most respects the antioxidants it contains.
- It is recommended in any age and situation, although it is a fat, and therefore, rich in calories.