I'm talking about olive oil here... I have been writing a corporate presentation the last few days on superfoods and oh ya, extra-virgin olive oil is on my list. So, I thought I would share some delicious knowledge with you (and to be honest, I'm kinda procrastinating by writing a blog, but that's okay right?). :)
Many consider the beautiful olive to be a veggie, but it's actually a fruit. An ancient symbol of wisdom and peace, the olive tree has given medicine and fuel to many civilizations since 5000 BC in Crete. A staple in the Mediterranean diet for thousands of years and most notable for it's heart healthy (and skin-loving) benefits.
Health Benefits of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO):
Multiple studies around the world have provided a strong body of evidence that olive oil is extremely beneficial for many health conditions and diseases.
Lowering cholesterol. "Oxidized" cholesterol is what forms the plaque on vessel walls and if other factors are in place, can lead to heart attack and stroke. Olive oil prevents oxidation of healthy cholesterol due to the antioxidants it contains.
Lower blood pressure. One double-blind-placebo controlled study shows that an extract of olive leaves decreases blood pressure.
Diabetes. In a study of diabetics, it was found that those who consumed olive oil at a meal had better blood sugar control than those who ate a low fat meal. Fat balances your blood sugar.
Prevention of asthma and arthritis. Healthy oils are key for lowering inflammation so it is not surprising that olive oil has shown benefits in those with asthma and arthritis.
Breast cancer reduction. An article published in the Annals of Oncology, reported the oleic acid found in olive oil significantly cut the levels of a breast cancer promoting gene by up to 46% - this is huge.
Improves the appearance of your skin and hair (I benefited from this first-hand, see below).
Please note, I do not recommend cooking with olive oil, check this for my reasons why: VIDEO. It destroys the beneficial enzymes, antioxidants, vitamins and creates free radicals when heated above 200-250 degrees.
Organic and "extra-virgin" - what does it mean?
I highly reco you buy organic olive oil because olives have a tendency to take in any chemicals in their surroundings. Toxins are fat soluble and olives are a good fat - common sense right? The best grade to purchase is "extra-virgin" for healthier and tastier oil. This refers to the initial unrefined oil garnered from the first crushing of the oil. "Pure" olive oil refers to any oil pressed from the olives and only "virgin" means it's the FIRST pressing. Extra-virgin has up to 4 times the level of good fats (oleic acid) than the other grades, plus it tastes so darn good I could drink it!
Cold-pressed? Oh yes.
Cold-pressed means that the olives were pressed without any heat applied. Add heat and you promote rancidity and destroy the beneficial nutrients of the oil. Look for this on the bottle label.
Look for a dark glass bottle.
The higher the quality the EVOO the more likely it is to spoil. Any source of energy from light, heat, oxygen will destroy the beneficial qualities. Buy your EVOO in a dark bottle and please avoid plastics and metal. Both of these compounds can leach chemicals into the EVOO. Store your EVOO in a cool, dark place.
Tips for enJOYing your EVOO:
Salad dressing. My fave is freshly squeezed lemon, pepper and EVOO. I like it simple. Here are two more recipes.
Dip fresh whole wheat foccacia into a EVOO with some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Pour a few gluggs of EVOO into your buckwheat pasta just before you serve it.
Use it as your base for pestos.
Puree roasted garlic, sweet potato and EVOO to make a delicious sweet mash.
Drizzle over steamed or vegetables just before serving.
Olive dip: Puree olive oil, garlic and black beans in your food processor and use as a dip for pita or veggies.
Slather it on your skin or in your hair as a moisturizer.
Lastly, as many of you may know, when I was in my early twenties, I was not the healthiest Joy because I had completely imbalanced hormones - dry skin, no sex drive, thinning hair, no period for months at a time - yet no doctor could help me other than shove pills in front of me. I went to Spain for three weeks and I came back a changed woman. My skin was like butta, my sex drive was in first gear and I looked like I was glowing. I consumed A LOT of extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) while in Europe.(SIDE NOTE: EVOO is not a cure-all, but the monounsaturated fat is hormonally balancing). Please note: I made other significant changes as well, but this is still a great story and good fat is absolutely essential for hormonal balance = great hair, skin and libido.
I better get back to finishing this presentation and eating my quinoa with gluggs of olive oil. Here's the recipe I made for dinner tonight!