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Olive Oil – Benefits, Uses, Nutrition, Types


What comes to your mind when you think of Mediterranean Cuisine? Well, the top thing for sure, will be Olives, pita bread and the wines! These are the most popular food items known to Mediterranean cuisine. Ancient Greeks and Romans used olive oil too. It is made by pressing whole olives to extract oil from them.

Olives have been grown since the 8th millennium BC and its oil is used primarily as the main cooking medium. They are available in different types. So, apart from being used as cooking oils, they find their usage in making medicine, beauty products, therapies, and massages.

The primary usage of Olive oil is for cooking and salad preparations. Olive oil is classified, in part, according to acid content, measured as free oleic acid. Extra virgin olive oil contains a maximum of 1% free oleic acid, virgin olive oil contains 2%, and ordinary olive oil contains 3.3%. Unrefined olive oils with more than 3.3% free oleic acid are considered “unfit for human consumption.” 

Use of Olive Oil

Olive oil is considered one of the best edible oils with antioxidant properties and health benefits. It has high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids, which helps reduce the body’s total cholesterol levels, and lower one’s risk to heart disease. In addition, olive leaf and olive oil might lower blood pressure. Olives might also be useful to kill microbes, such as bacteria and fungus.

Nutritional Facts about Olive Oil

The nutritional values per 14g of one tablespoon of olive oil are:

  • Calories 120
  • 14 g Total Fat
  • 2.2 g Saturated Fat
  • 1.8 g Polyunsaturated Fat
  • 10 g Monounsaturated Fat

Types of Olive Oil

Using the correct type of olive oil is crucial. There are five primary grades of olive oil – extra virgin oil, virgin oil, refined oil, pure olive oil and olive pomace oil. Each of these olive oils has a different smoke point, and this smoke point will determine its usage. An oil with a high smoke point is better suited for cooking purposes. While those with a low smoke point should be used for quick sautees and as dressings for salads

It is the best quality olive oil. It undergoes cold processing, which prevents the natural content from altering after exposure to high temperatures. As a result, it has a low acid content, even lower than virgin oil.

2. VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

It is an unrefined form of olive oil extracted using the cold-pressing technique. It has a slightly higher level of acidity content that ranges between 1 to 4 percent. Another speciality of this oil is that it is temperature resistant. In comparison to extra virgin oil, the taste is milder and is suitable for low-heat cooking. It is also ideal for salad dressing.

3. PURE OLIVE OIL

Pure Olive oil is created by mixing either extra virgin or virgin oil with the refined one. It is rich in Vitamin E and is used only for cooking, body massages, and therapies.

4. REFINED OLIVE OIL

It is considered a moderate quality oil. Refined olive oil primarily comes into use for cooking only. It is appropriate for all cooking techniques, but more so when cooking at a high temperature. It has the same fat content as the above two oils.

5. OLIVE POMACE OIL

Pomace type is the lowest quality olive oil available in the market. Pomace comes from the residues and the remains left after the fruit’s pressing is completed. Once the actual fruits are pressed, there still remains the residue of oil and water. This remaining oil is extracted and mixed with high-quality oils to improve its quality. But this oil is best suited for massages, and other therapies.

6 Health Benefits of Olive Oil

1. Promotes Heart Health 

Olive oil protects against inflammation. It reduces LDL oxidation (bad cholesterol) and improves the endothelium’s function, lining the blood vessels. It manages blood clotting and lowers blood pressure as well.

According to a study headed by experts from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, those who daily consume at least half tablespoon of olive oil had a 14 percent reduced risk for cardiovascular disease and an 18 percent lower risk for coronary heart disease than those who did not.

2. Reduces the Risk of Cancer 

Olive oil consists of oleic acid, which is highly resistant to oxidation. As a result, it has beneficial effects on genes linked to cancer. In addition, olive oil is rich in compounds that can help fight cancer at a molecular level.

3. Relieves Pain and Inflammation

The leading cause of inflammation in the body is C-reactive protein. Also, this protein increases during conditions like arthritis. Olive oil has polyphenol oleocanthal that contains anti-inflammatory properties and works similar to ibuprofen.

4. Boosts Bone Health

Regular intake of olive oil is beneficial for bone health. It has bone-building calcium and vitamin D. Daily consumption of olive oil stimulates bone formation and prevents bone breakdown.

5. Reduces the Risk of CVD and Stroke

Stroke is the second most common cause of death. Olive oil is a healthy fat that reduces the risk of strokes. In addition, research suggests olive oil rich in polyphenols (responsible for preventing blood lipid oxidation) can help in reducing the risk of CVD and Stroke. 

6. Balances Blood Sugar and Prevents Diabetes

It contains healthy fats that are crucial to managing type 2 diabetes. Therefore, olive oil’s good fats help slow down the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream. Consequently, this controls the sugar levels in the blood.

Studies have shown that olive oil has positive effects on insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels. The preventive properties of olive oil were recently proven by a randomized clinical experiment involving 418 healthy individuals.

Furthermore, the finding of yet another study shows that a Mediterranean diet high in olive oil significantly lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Ways to Consume Olive Oil

Olive oil is known for its distinctive flavour. It adds zing to everything from pesto sauce to meats to roasted veggies (you can even use milder varieties for baking). 

Recipe 1- Basil Pesto Bruschetta

This recipe is a winner, as it abounds in health and flavour while having an appealing look. It contains fresh basil, tomatoes, garlic, and shredded cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (toast by heating in a non-stick skillet on medium heat, often stirring, until golden brown)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Pinch salt (optional)
  • 10-inch-thick slices of French or sourdough bread, preferably made with part whole-wheat flour

Method:

  • Put all of the ingredients except the bread in a small food processor. 
  • Pulse briefly to blend well.
  • Spread about 1/2 tablespoon pesto spread on each bread slice with a drizzle of cheese and place on a foil-lined cookie sheet. 
  • Bake for 2-3 mins observing, till bread is lightly toasted and cheese  melted.

Recipe 2- Olive Oil Salad

This recipe breaks the stereotype that salads and sprouts are boring. This refreshing salad is made with brussels sprouts, olive oil, cheese and lemon juice.

Ingredients:

  • 450g brussels sprouts
  • Five tablespoons extra-virgin oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 ½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½-1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, crushed
  • 115g pecorino cheese

Method:

  • Rinse the sprouts, let them dry for some time.
  • Remove discoloured leaves and cut the sprouts halfway lengthwise.
  • Slice the sprouts into thin layers and transfer them into a large bowl.
  • Drizzle the oil over sprouts, add salt and toss the mixture.
  • Add lemon juice, black pepper and toss it again. Spread the cheese on the top of the salad and serve it immediately. 

Apart from being used in cooking and for dressings, olive oil is famous for other usages. For example, olive oils are part of medicines, beauty products, different soaps, etc. In ancient times people also used olive oils for lighting lamps. Currently, it can serve as an excellent replacement for makeup removers and moisturizers. But if you are opting for olive oil as a moisturizer, please check your skin type first. It is ideal for normal to dry skin. Generally, Pure olive oil is excellent for body and hair massages at home and spas. It is great for babies too.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Can you consume olive oil throughout the year?

A. Yes, from a health perspective, consuming 1-2 tsps of olive oil daily (either on its own or for cooking) over the course of the year can provide an array of health benefits

Q. What are the health benefits of olive oil?

A. Olive oil  helps in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and metabolic conditions, reduction in cancer rates, and other common illnesses.

Q. Can olive oil be reused?

A. No, We should not re-use olive oil that has been exposed to high temperatures as it decomposes and transforms into a toxic chemical medium.

A. Absolutely yes!  Extra virgin olive oil is perfect for sauces, sautés, marinades, and vinaigrettes, in addition to being a fine finishing oil or simply as a dipping sauce for bread.

Q. How many calories are there in olive oil?

A. 1 tablespoon (14g) of olive oil contains 119 calories. 

Q. What is olive oil good for?

Extra virgin olive oil is a fantastic supplement to a balanced diet because it is full of heart-healthy fats and antioxidants. Additionally, a broad range of advantages have been connected to it, including potential protection against inflammation, heart disease, breast cancer, and type 2 diabetes.

Q. Is olive oil good for your skin?

Yes, olive oil contains a wealth of beneficial vitamins, lipids, and antioxidants that can help skin look younger. In addition, It hydrates skin by retaining moisture, and its antioxidants may lessen the appearance of age signs.

Q. What are the side effects of olive oil?

Blackheads, inflammations, gallbladder stones, minor to major diarrhoea, skin rashes, acne, acute allergic reactions in persons sensitive to it, and gall bladder stones are some of the side effects of olive oil. So, you must have it in moderation or as directed by your dietician.

Q. Does olive oil thin your blood?

Yes, consuming olive oil at least thrice a week was linked to lower platelet activity, which may reduce blood’s propensity to clot and thus obstruct blood flow. 

Q. Is a spoonful of olive oil a day good for you?

Yes, Having half a tablespoon of olive oil per day can keep your heart healthy. According to recent studies, increasing the use of olive oil has a positive impact on cardiovascular health. Olive oil has numerous documented health advantages.

Q. Is olive oil good for hair?

Yes, it is good for your hair. It is enriched with vitamin E. Hence, there are several benefits of olive oil to revive dry, thick hair, and it also claims to maintain strong, healthy hair. 

Q. Can I use olive oil every day on my face?

Yes you can use olive oil on your face. When your skin feels dry or as part of your regular skincare routine, you can use olive oil. After cleaning your skin, apply a thin layer of moisturiser. Use olive oil after applying lotion and before applying makeup since it helps to lock in moisture.

Q. Will olive oil help my hair grow?

Yes, Olive oil is a fantastic choice to grow your hair because it helps to reduce excess sebum buildup. This slows down the creation of new hair follicles and hair. Regular use of olive oil can promote longer hair. Olive oil also nourishes the scalp, which encourages hair development.

Q. Is it good to take olive oil every day?

Yes, when used in moderation, olive oil, which is high in monounsaturated fats can benefit and complement a balanced diet. Olive oil has a number of potential health benefits and can assist you in ingesting the appropriate amount of healthy fats.

Q. Is it safe to take olive oil?

Yes, it is safe to consume olive oil. It has a number of potential health benefits and can assist you in ingesting the appropriate amount of healthy fats.

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