Olive Oil, Your Health, Your Kitchen

Extra virgin olive oil is becoming such a symbol of healthy eating that it is hard to believe that it was once accused of increasing the harmful cholesterol. It had been a fat, so it had to be harmful to us. Fortunately, we left those times behind and now olive oil and most fats are much better understood.

The main reason olive oil is healthy is because it really is rich in healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. About 75% of this monounsaturated fat is oleic acid, which is very stable even at high temperatures. Moreover, our body processes oleic acid easier than other fatty acids.

Secondly, organic extra virgin olive oil also contains high degrees of antioxidants like phenols, and vitamins E and A, which fight free radicals and therefore prevent premature aging. Those antioxidants help neutralize the oxidation process, that is common to alls fats, and preserve the properties of essential olive oil too.

So, the fact that essential olive oil is capable of resisting oxidation at higher temperatures much better than seed oils makes it the safest vegetable oil for frying.

Many in the non-Mediterranean industrialized countries feel uneasy whenever a Mediterranean recipe calls for frying in essential olive oil. Frying can be an old cooking technique that’s extremely popular in the Mediterranean cuisines. It really is as much an integral part of the healthy traditional Mediterranean diet as consuming raw olive oil with bread and salads.

Some olive oil tips for the kitchen

When heated up, olive oil expands in volume and food absorbs it less than other cooking oils. Therefore, you need a smaller quantity of olive oil.

If it didn’t burn in your frying pan, it is possible to reuse olive oil up to three times. Some say even five times, but I personally never utilize it more than twice.

Olive oil transmits flavors between foods, so never fry meat in olive oil you used to fry fish and vice versa. My grandmother always kept a jar for fish and something for meat next to the olive oil bottle. It’s the best way not to get flavors mixed up.

Finally, essential olive oil looks thicker than other vegetable oils, but this is only appearance as, contrary to popular belief, it has no more calories than sunflower oil, for instance.

Olive oil for the health

In the 13th century Arnau de Vilanova, doctor of the Catalan royal family, already realized a moderate intake of essential olive oil enhanced the vital functions of the body. In the 20th century, the late American doctor, Ancel Keys MD, documented that the essential olive oil based Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.

We note that contemporary research has confirmed what the Mediterranean peoples knew and practiced intuitively all along.

Heart disease is the Achilles’ heel of modern societies living at a frantic pace. Since Dr. Keys and his followers realized that people in the Mediterranean have a better cardiovascular health, the initial medical studies on essential olive oil focused mainly on that area.

They proved that olive oil balances the cholesterol levels, can reduce the risk of a coronary attack, can are likely involved in the prevention of arteriosclerosis, and fights high blood pressure.

Later, research was extended to the areas like digestion, cancer, and diabetes. publish articles The outcomes have already been very positive and olive oil usually comes through with flying colors.

One particular study concluded that with only two tablespoons of virgin olive oil every day you can start to experience medical benefits that the Mediterranean peoples have enjoyed for so long. Incorporating it naturally into your eating practices is easy.

How to integrate olive oil in your eating practices

The easiest way would be to enter the habit of drizzling olive oil over slices of bread or toasts, consuming it as a dressing for sandwiches rather than butter, and adding it to salads with some salt.

Wherever you go in the Mediterranean, Morocco, Provence, Tunisia, Italy, Greece, Catalonia, Andalusia, or Majorca, you’ll find people eating their own mix of bread and raw olive oil.

As a Catalan I eat pa amb tomaquet, literally bread with tomato, almost every day: within my breakfast, as a snack, or, I admit, when I am too lazy to prepare dinner. It’s the Catalan bruschetta, so to state, and you will prepare it in no time with slices of bread or toasts, both are fine.

Here is the most basic recipe for pa amb tomaquet. Cut a very ripe tomato crosswise, rub the bread with half on both sides, drizzle essential olive oil liberally on the bread and sprinkle some salt.

You can eat it plain or add any topping and accompaniment you prefer: prosciutto-style or cooked ham, cheese, tuna fish, an omelet, anchovies, figs, olives. Even with a chocolate bar at coffee or tea time, it may sound weird, but it is delicious.

Other recipes with raw olive oil are authentic allioli, salads with olive oil dressing, cold sauces like romesco, and sopa de farigola or thyme soup. As the Catalan saying goes: Sopa sense oli no val un dimoni, literally, Soup without oil isn’t worth a devil, meaning that a soup with no oil is junk.