The Benefits of Olive Oil
Benefits of Olive Oil.
Olive oil has been used for thousands of years. Not only was it used for cooking, but also in lamps for lighting and for many other household and ceremonial purposes.
It belongs in every kitchen, not only because of its rich, unique flavor and aroma, but also because of its many health benefits.
Learn about oils. As we learn about these health benefits, we come to understand why it is important to replace saturated oils and fats with monosaturated ones, such
as olive oil and avocado oil, and with polyunsaturated fats such as those found in raw nuts, seeds, and flaxseed oil.
Olive oil contains many antioxidents that can lower our LDL (bad)cholesterol while raising our HDL (good) cholesterol. It can lower our risk of heart disease and cancer, help normalize blood clotting, help with blood sugar control and insulin levels, which helps if you have type 2 diabetes,
The benefits of olive oil also include anti-inflammatory action in our bodies which help not only with diabetes, but also with arthritis. It even helps with hypertenstiona and asthma.
According the the Food and Drug Administration, if we replace our regular fats and oils with 2 T. of olive oil a day we will boost our heart health.
There are many interesting things to learn about the different grades of olive oil,
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil can be compared to a fine wine. It must pass four criteria:
- It must be produced without chemicals or hot water extraction.
- It can come only from the first pressing.
- It must have an oleic acidity of less than 1%.
- It must have perfect taste.
And we wondered why it costs more.
All types of extra virgin olive oil are made from the first pressing. This means there is no processing, refining, chemicals, or heating. Only cold pressing! Talk about a natural product.
- Virgin Olive Oil also comes from the first pressing and is produced without refining.
- Pure or 100% Olive Oil. Don't be fooled by the name. It is a blend of virgin olive
oil and refined olive oil, usually about 85% refined and 15% virgin olive oil.
It does have good resistance to high temperatures so is better suited for high heat cooking.
It is not good for using in salad oils, etc. but it still has most of the benefits of olive oil.
- Lite Olive Oil is not lower in calories. All olive oil, no matter which kind
has 125 calories per tablespoon. Lite Olive oil is, rather, lighter in color - for a
variety of reasons including olives picked late in the season, having oxidized from
exposure to sunlight and lost nutrient value, or even from processing.
Cooking With Olive Oil.
Calories. Keep in mind that olive oil is high in calories, so use it with that in mind. Use it instead of butter or margarine, or at the very least, mix one cube of softened butter with 1/3 to 1/2 cup of virgin olive oil to enjoy the benefits of olive oil.
My husband comes from a home where they put butter on their sandwiches. I have found that spritzing each side of the sandwich with extra virgin olive oil keeps the sandwich moist and gives it a delicious flavor.
Extra Virgin and Virgin Olive Oil.
Use virgin and extra virgin without cooking for the greatest benefits of olive oil. Use it in:
- salad dressings
- marinades or sauces
- add just as you take something off the heat for a burst of flavor
- drizzle it over cooked vegetables
- drizzle it over cooked pasta
- make a healthy dip for bread
by adding a little balsamic vinegar in a small bowl
- use it in baked or mashed potatoes instead of butter or margarine
- harmonize the spices and to enhance the flavor
- balance the acidity in tomatoes, lemon juice, vinegar and other high acid foods.
Baking With Olive Oil.
Because pure, fine and light or any type of refined olive oil has good resistance to high temperatures, use them for high heat uses such as frying.
A Couple More Tips for Easy Enjoyment of the Benefits of Olive Oil.
- Always heat your pan before adding the olive oil to it. Food should sizzle when placed in the oil or the oil is not hot enough.
- Olive oil freezes well, retaining it's health properties and flavor, so if you don't
think you will use it fast freeze part of it then pull it out later. Let it thaw entirely
- Keep it cool and dark. It stores longest if you keep it out of light and heat. For this reason, also pick one off the back of a lower shelf when you purchase
it at the store.
Trans fats. Trans fat should never be consumed because it effects our cholesterol in two ways. It raises our LDL "bad" cholesterol and it lowers our HDL "good" cholesterol! It will not lower cholesterol naturally or any other way!
Trans fat is made through a process called hydrogenation in which hydrogen is added to vegetable oil. The trans fat gives oil a longer shelf life, keeping it from going rancid
as fast, and doing the same thing for foods which contain it.
True story. I found a loaf of bread in the back of the drawer which had been pushed back out of sight and had sat there for a couple of months.
It was fine!
That really made me stop and think. What did they do to that bread to make it stay good so long? When I make homemade bread it molds within days if I don't refrigerate it.
It made me wish I had not fed my family bread such as that when I brought it home from the store, fresh and fragrant. It wasn't two months old, but it still had all the same stuff in it!
Where are Trans Fats Found?
- Foods like crackers and cookies and cakes (and bread?) you buy at the grocery store are usually made with trans fat.
- When you eat out many restaurants use transfat and fry their french fries and
onion rings, or make donuts in trans fat.
- Food manufacturers have started using less trans fat since all the stink that has been made about it.
- Do be aware that if a food contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat they don't have to list it. If you eat a lot of that particular food it can still mess up your
How Can We Recognize Trans fat? Sometimes it is hard. Don't be afraid to ask when eating out.
Besides watching for the labels that say "No Trans Fat,"
you can recognize a product that contains trans fat.
When the label says, "partially hydrogenated,"
even "hydrogenated" can mean it contains trans fat. It needs to say "completely hydrogenated"
or "fully hydrogenated" to contain no trans fat. Shortening contains some trans fat.
Trans fat also has adverse effects on our triglycerides and leads to inflammaton in our
veins and arteries that contribute to the formation of fatty blockages in our heart vessels.
Bottom line. We have control over what we eat. We owe it to ourselves and our families to do a good job with our nutrition. And what an easy and delicious way to make a few very positive changes.
Good luck and happy eating.
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