Have you seen the initials EVOO and wondered what chefs and nutritionists are talking about?? Believe it or not, Extra Virgin Olive Oil which has been a Mediterranean staple dating back to biblical times, is currently one of the hottest nutritional trends on the planet. An increasing amount of research now supports the many health benefits of antioxidant-packed elixir.
What Is Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
Olive oil is extracted from olives, a species of shrub or small tree in the oleaceae family of plants. Extra virgin olive oil is the oil that is separated and strained from the very first press of freshly squeezed olive juice. There are typically no additives or preservatives, and the process is done without heating the liquid.
The process of producing Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), is known as cold pressing. It involves simply pressing or spinning the olive juice cold to extract the oil. When olives are cold pressed, the olive fruit remains below 122⁰F or (50⁰C). This method ensures the retention of the nutritional value of the oil.
How Is Extra Virgin Olive Oil Used?
Historically, olive oil was used as a lamp fuel, as a skin ointment, and for cooking throughout the Mediterranean. Nowadays, olive oil is used in many culinary applications – both raw and cooked. It is often used for baking, sautéing, and roasting.
However, it is most nutritious when served fresh in sauces, marinades, and salad dressings. Some devotees take EVOO capsules or consume up to one or two tablespoons of high-quality oil daily.
Besides dietary use, olive oil is also used in medicine, cosmetics, and soaps due to its overall potential health benefits.
What Are The Health Benefit Of Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
- Heart Health: EVOO is rich in nutrients including vitamin E, monounsaturated fats (MUFAs), vitamin K, and beneficial antioxidants (Polyphenols). Replacing olive oil with saturated fats in the diet reduces the bad cholesterols LDL levels. It reduces the levels of LDL and increases good cholesterol (HDL) in the body.
- Brain Health: Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative condition in the world. One of the key features of Alzheimer’s is the buildup of so-called beta-amyloid plaques inside your brain cells. One study in mice showed that oleocanthal in olive oil can help remove these plaques.
- Lowers blood pressure: Research suggests that increased intake of olive oil could be tied to lower blood pressure, which may aid in the prevention of heart disease. A 2020 study concluded that both experimental and human studies agree in showing the anti-hypertensive effects of olive oil. Researchers believe that due to its high oleic acid and antioxidant polyphenol content, the consumption of olive oil for those concerned with hypertension.
What Makes Extra Virgin Olive Oil An Anticancer Food?
Studies have shown that people living in Mediterranean countries have a fairly low risk of cancer, which may be partly due to their consumption of anti-inflammatory ingredients, including olive oil.
Oleic acid is one of the main components of extra virgin olive oil. It is also highly resistant to oxidation and has been shown to slow the growth and spread of cancer cells in some test-tube studies. The research found that it was effective against liver cancer cells.
In another 2011 review, regular consumption of olive oil may also be associated with a lower risk of developing breast cancer or cancer of the digestive system.
Although there is strong evidence for the health and anticancer benefits of extra virgin olive oil more research is needed.
- Potential Health Benefits of Olive Oil and Plant Polyphenols (nih.gov)
- Hunter Study Shows That Certain Olive Oils Kill Cancer Cells | Hunter College (cuny.edu)
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