Olives- Tiny little green and black balls that are storehouses of nutrients and a blast of delicacies when added to salads. Olives are a native to Africa, Asia and Mediterranean region. The places where they are mainly cultivated are Italy, Spain, Egypt, Greece, Syria, Tunisia. As long as India is concerned, the Olive oil cultivation is on a steady rise. It is already grown in parts of Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. While there are a lot of Health benefits of Olives, here we will discuss the benefits of Olive Oil.
Olives are essentially used to extract oil from it. This extracted oil is of various types based on how they are extracted and processed. Following are the types of olive oil:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Virgin Olive Oil
- Refined Olive Oil
- Olive Pomace Oil
- Lampante Oil
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – This kind of oil is so named because of its production methods, taste and chemical composition. The “Extra Virgin” The key features that makes this type of olive oil stand out from the others are:
1. They are extracted by first pressing of fresh olives, normally within 24 hours of harvesting by non chemical, mechanical means, and without the use of excessive heat, specifically below 28C.
2. It contains free fatty acid or acidity level must be less than 0.8%.
3. It has a perfect taste and aroma.
Extra Virgin is the highest grade and best tasting Olive Oil which makes it a dear deal to your pocket as well.
- Virgin Olive Oil– Virgin Olive Oil also comes from the first pressing. The only difference between extra virgin oil and Virgin Olive Oil is that of the acidity level of less than 2%. Therefore it is of inferior quality to Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It’s flavour intensity can vary and its taste is milder than Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
- Refined Olive Oil- These are Olive Oils that have been refined by using agents such as acids, alkalis, and heat to extract as much oil as possible from the olive pulp that remains after the first pressing. As a result it is a fattier and more acidic oil which lacks taste, aroma and natural antioxidants. The producers add unrefined Extra Virgin or Virgin Olive Oil to impart some of flavour, colour and aroma into the blend.
- Olive – Pomace Oil– The lowest grade of olive oil made from the byproducts of extra virgin olive oil production. Olive skins, seeds and pulp are heated and the remaining oil is extracted. As a result, pomace oil is put through the refining process, similar to pure or light olive oil. Pomace olive oil is bland and extremely low in antioxidants.
- Lampante Oil– It is an Oil with severe defects, usually from bad fruit or poor processing practices. It is not fit for human consumption.It is not fit for human consumption until it has been refined.
That was all about the types of Olive oil based on their mode of extraction. However, while cooking, oil is basically used to act as a lubricant which prevents the ingredients from direct heat of the cooking pan thus avoiding their chances of burning. As a result, different kinds of cuisines require different oils based on the capacity of the oil to neutralize the heat which is different for different modes of cooking.
Why the Stability of Cooking Oils Is Important?
When fats and oils are exposed to high heat,they get damaged. This is particularly true of oils that are high in polyunsaturated fats, including most vegetable oils like soybean. When overheated, they can form various harmful compounds including lipid peroxides as well as aldehydes which can contribute to cancer. When cooking with these oils, some of the carcinogenic compounds actually vaporize and may contribute to lung cancer when inhaled. Therefore, just being present in a kitchen where these oils are used can cause harm. If you want to minimize your exposure to harmful and carcinogenic compounds (always a good idea), then it is crucial to cook only with fats that are stable at high heat.
There are two properties of cooking oils that matter most:
- Smoke Point: The temperature at which the fats begin to break down and turn into smoke.
- Oxidative Stability: How resistant the fats are to reacting with oxygen.
Since olive oil have monounsaturated fats, which have high resistance to heat and can be used for all types of cooking including frying of foods. Olive Oil is resistant to oxidation.
Benefits of Olive Oil
- Olive Oil contains Monounsaturated Fats
Olive oil is the natural oil extracted from olives, the fatty fruit of the olive tree. The predominant fatty acid in olive oil is a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid, which is extremely healthy. Oleic acid is believed to help reduce inflammation, and may have beneficial effects on carcinogenic cells in the genes. Monounsaturated fats in extra virgin olive oil are also quite resistant to high heat, making it a healthy option for cooking.
- Olive Oil Contains Large Amounts of Antioxidants
Olive oil is also loaded with powerful antioxidants. These antioxidants are biologically active and may help fight serious diseases . This includes antioxidants that can fight inflammation and help prevent the cholesterol in our blood from becoming oxidized, both crucial steps in the heart disease process.
- Olive Oil Has Strong Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Inflammation is basically swelling, redness and pain that occurs in parts of bodies. Chronic inflammation is thought to be among the leading causes of disease.This includes cancer, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, arthritis and even obesity. Olive oil can reduce inflammation, which may be one of the main reasons for its health benefits. One study also showed that olive oil antioxidants can inhibit some genes and proteins that drive inflammation.
- Olive Oil May Help Prevent Strokes
Stroke is caused by a disturbance of blood flow to the brain, either due to a blood clot or bleeding. Olive oil was the only source of monounsaturated fat associated with a reduced risk of stroke and heart disease. It has been found on extensive research that those who consumed olive oil were at a much lower risk of stroke.
- Olive Oil Is Protective Against Heart Disease
Time and again we’ve seen how Heart disease is a major cause of death in people. Observational studies conducted a few decades ago showed that heart disease was rare around the Mediterranean Sea. Extra virgin olive oil is one of the key features of the diet of the population herein, and protects against heart disease via numerous mechanisms. It lowers inflammation, protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation, improves the function of the lining of the blood vessels, and may help prevent unwanted blood clotting. Interestingly, it has also been shown to lower blood pressure. There has been enough evidence gathered to show that Olive Oil has worked miraculously in defeating heart disease. You might want to consider switching to utilizing this liquid gold, as it is so known, in your diet for a healthier heart.
- Olive Oil Does Not Cause Weight Gain and Obesity
A high intake of olive oil is not linked with weight gain or obesity in observational studies, the same having been experimented on people and students at large. We could give the credit to the anti-oxidation properties of the oil which helps in controlling weight gain amongst consumers.
- Olive Oil May Help Fight Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease in the world. It is, in simple words, disorder in the functioning of the brain. One of its key features is a buildup of so-called beta amyloid plaques inside brain cells. Studies have shown that ingredients of olive oil have enabled the defeat of these plaques inside brain cells . Another study indicated that a Mediterranean diet with olive oil had beneficial effects on brain function.
- Olive Oil May Reduce the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Want to prevent contraction of diabetes? Olive Oil consumption is your answer. It appears to be highly protective against diabetes. Several studies have linked olive oil to beneficial effects on blood sugar and insulin sensitivity.
- The Antioxidants in Olive Oil Have Anti-Cancer Properties
We’ve already seen how the antioxidation properties of olive oil has kept various diseases at bay and has also found to be non-encouraging of the carcinogenic cells in our body.. The antioxidants in olive oil can reduce oxidative damage due to free radicals, which is believed to be one of the leading drivers of cancer.
- Olive Oil Can Help Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis
Commonly found amongst people of middle and old age, Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease characterized by deformed and painful joints. The exact cause is not well understood, but it involves the body’s immune system attacking normal cells by mistake. Olive oil supplementation appears to improve inflammatory markers and reduce oxidative stress in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. Fish Oil also is an effective remedy. But for people who do not prefer using fish extracted oil can resort to olive oil for results.
- Olive Oil Has Anti-Bacterial Properties
Olive oil contains many nutrients that can inhibit or kill harmful bacteria. One of these is Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria that lives in the stomach and can cause stomach ulcers and stomach cancer. Test tube studies have shown extra virgin olive oil to be effective against eight strains of this bacteria, three of which are resistant to antibiotics.
- Skin Benefits
Olive oil does have some reported benefits to the skin. Olive oil has many vitamins, including A, D, and K, as well as vitamin E. You could even massage this oil gently on your skin for a vibrant effect. It’s mere consumption in your diet is also sufficient to enhance your beautiful skin.
- Guards against harmful rays
The antioxidant quality works wonders for your skin equally. It helps prevent or reverse damage from cancer-causing ultraviolet radiation. It also contains Vitamins E and K which are used widely in beauty products to enhance skin quality.
- It moisturizes and fights bacteria
If you’re prone to acne, using a soap made with olive oil decreases acne by killing off the bacteria that causes the acne. Olive oil is also known to moisturize and hydrate your skin.
- Wonderful Hair
Being rich in vitamin E, this oil when mildly heated and rubbed over scalp can lead to a healthier and fuller growth of hair. Vitamin E helps nourishing the scalp which in turn not only activates the dead roots of worn off hair but also stimulates the length of your hair. You may use Extra Virgin olive oil for best results. Its anti-bacterial properties might help to keep problems of lice also far away from your head.
While I could go on and on with the benefits of this rightly named “liquid gold” oil, it is important that I highlight the historic importance of olives as well. Olives find a mention in the Old testaments as well as Quranic verses too as aiding a better health with it’s innumerable nutritional values. Go run to your nearest departmental store and grab your can of olive oil right away! Check out the comparison of olive oil vs canola oil.