Olive Oil, Your Health, Your Kitchen

Extra virgin olive oil has become this type of symbol of healthy eating that it is hard to believe that it was once accused of increasing the harmful cholesterol. It was 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 essential olive oil is healthy is because it is rich in healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. About 75% of that monounsaturated fat is oleic acid, which is very stable even at high temperatures. Moreover, the body processes oleic acid easier than other essential 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 thus 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.

EB1-A So, the fact that olive oil is with the capacity of resisting oxidation at higher temperatures much better than seed oils helps it be the safest vegetable oil for frying.

Many in the non-Mediterranean industrialized countries feel uneasy when a Mediterranean recipe demands frying in olive oil. Frying can be an old cooking technique that is extremely popular in the Mediterranean cuisines. It is as much a fundamental element of the healthy traditional Mediterranean diet as consuming raw essential olive oil with bread and salads.

Some olive oil tips for the kitchen

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

If it didn’t burn in your frying pan, you can reuse olive oil up to 3 x. Some say even five times, but Personally, i never use 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 close to the olive oil bottle. It’s the best way never 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 does not have any 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 that a moderate intake of olive oil enhanced the vital functions of your body. In the 20th century, the late American doctor, Ancel Keys MD, documented that the essential olive oil based Mediterranean diet reduces the chance of cardiovascular disease.

We see 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 an improved cardiovascular health, the initial medical studies on olive oil focused mainly on that area.

They proved that olive oil balances the cholesterol levels, can decrease the risk of a heart attack, can are likely involved in preventing arteriosclerosis, and fights raised blood pressure.

Later, research was extended to other areas like digestion, cancer, and diabetes. The results have already been very positive and essential olive oil usually comes through with flying colors.

One particular study figured with only two tablespoons of virgin essential olive oil every day you can start to experience medical benefits that the Mediterranean peoples have enjoyed for such a long time. 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 essential olive oil over slices of bread or toasts, eating it as a dressing for sandwiches instead of 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 will discover people eating their own combination of bread and raw olive oil.

As a Catalan I eat pa amb tomaquet, literally bread with tomato, nearly every day: as part of my breakfast, as a snack, or, I admit, when I’m too lazy to prepare dinner. It is the Catalan bruschetta, so to state, and you will prepare it very quickly with slices of bread or toasts, both are fine.

Here is the most elementary recipe for pa amb tomaquet. Cut a very ripe tomato crosswise, rub the bread with one 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 like: prosciutto-style or cooked ham, cheese, tuna fish, an omelet, anchovies, figs, olives. Despite having 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.

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