Exclusive benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The beneficial effects of consuming olive oil are backed by lengthy, painstaking scientific research. Fats and oils have a common denominator in the energy value (9 calories per gram) but the metabolism of each different group differs greatly from the rest.
Olive oil contains a series of compounds that are very beneficial to most functions of the human body and its’ biological and therapeutic value is related in many aspects to its chemical structure.
The first aspect is its triglyceride composition, made up of fatty acids. It also has a prevalence of monounsaturates, oleic acid principally, while animal fats are fundamentally made up of saturated fatty acids and seed oils of polyunsaturates. Monounsaturated fatty acids are much more stable. It also has a low percentage of polyunsaturates and this is important because these kind of fatty acids cannot be synthesized by the body.
The second aspect is in its minor components. The most salient ones are the tocopherols and poly phenols. These components have a major antioxidant function and are closely connected with virgin varieties because refining processes alter and remove them.
Extra virgin olive oil is the most digestible of the edible fats and:
* it helps to assimilate vitamins A, D and K;
* it contains essential acids that cannot be produced by our own bodies;
* it slows down the aging process;
* it helps bile, liver and intestinal functions.
The ancient Greeks were in the habit of consuming 1-2 spoonfuls every morning. It was a matter of hygienic practice which helped deal with simple chronic constipation and with stomach ulcers. Now, in spite of the advancements in modern medicine and pharmacology, this practice is recommended for its positive influence on the digestion.
It is noteworthy that olive oil has a beneficial effect in the dietary treatment of diabetes. In addition it helps control blood pressure and increases the bone mass. It is believed it also has a favorable effect on the development of the central nervous and vascular systems, in brain development as well as normal child development.
The human body easily absorbs olive oil. This means that the body absorbs the good ingredients such as vitamin E and phenols, which have anti-oxidizing properties and prevent the oxidization of fatty tissue. Another important element is chlorophyll. Olive oil facilitates the cleansing of the gall bladder. It is not only easy to digest but it also helps the digestion of other fatty substances because it helps the secretions of the peptic system and stimulates the pancreatic enzyme lipace.
A major cause for the degeneration of the cells – and their eventual destruction – is the accumulation of free radicals, which are produced by the oxidization of the fatty tissues in the body. Vitamin E, phenols and other antioxidizing substances protect the human body from the negative effects of free radicals. Olive oil contains a high percentage of phenols and vitamin E and as a result helps delay the aging process.
Olive oil consumption has a very positive effect on blood cholesterol. Olive oil limits the oxidizing of bad cholesterol (cause of artillery skilorsus and heart disease) because it is rich in anti-oxidizing agents.
Chemical processing may improve high acidity olive oil and make it edible however it takes away some extremely valuable ingredients such as Vitamin and Phenols. As a result processed varieties (refined) lack the desirable properties and characteristics which can be found in abundance in extra virgin olive oil.
As with any fatty substance, it deteriorates during the frying process especially if it is used over and over and if the frying temperature is very high. High temperature destroys the good ingredients of any oil while it creates harmful agents for the liver, the arteries and the heart.
It is important however to take into consideration that these harmful agents are less likely to be created in olive oil than in all other known vegetable oils and this is because it has a different composition. It contains a high percentage of oleic acid, which is much more resistant to oxidization than the polyunsaturated acids, which are found in large amounts in seed oils. But more importantly olive oil contains natural anti-oxidizing agents such as phenols and vitamin E. When heated, olive oil is the most stable fat, which means it stands up well to high frying temperatures. Its high smoking point (410º F) is well above the ideal temperature for frying food (356º F). The digestibility of olive oil is not affected when it is heated, even when it is re-used several times for frying.
It is known that populations with a Mediterranean lifestyle and habitually use extra virgin olive oil as their primary source of fat for cooking and dressing foods live longer, healthier lives.
Researches are beginning to focus on some of the other elements in olive oil, elements that are similar to anti-cancer compounds found in some fruits and vegetables. Olive oil does appear to have a role not only in combating heart disease but also in the control of excess weight, diabetes and in protection against some kinds of cancer.
Now, this doesn’t mean that adding extra virgin olive oil to a bad diet will make you healthy, but cutting fat intake, limiting animal fats and using it as primary source of dietary fat, along with a diet rich in fruits, grains, legumes and vegetables accompanied by regular physical activity can enhance health.
Unscrupulous producers can sell oil as “extra virgin” as long as it meets acidity standards and satisfies chemical analysis standards, without informing consumers that some of it is chemically rectified or that it has been blended. Frauds include blending with nut or seed oils, as well as blending with rectified oil. This is the case for many of the widely available olive oils in New Zealand super markets!
Obviously, such products will not have the health benefits of the real thing – so be sure to educate yourself enough before making a purchase!