Matera in Southern Italy produces one of the best, if not the best and purest extra-virgin olive oil in the world. Its hills are abundant with the round and fleshy olive fruits that are gently picked and cold-pressed within 24 hours to control acidity level.
The Character of Olive Oil
Olive oil comes from countries like Spain and Italy, found in the Mediterranean region. It is usually used in cooking, as a salad dressing, and also in cosmetics, soaps and pharmaceuticals. It also has religious significance in some religions.
Olive oil comes in different varieties as olives come in variety. They can vary in terms of flavor, texture and shelf life. Olive oil is classified according to its purity. The highest and purest form is the extra-virgin olive oil, which means it has not gone through chemical treatment. Other classifications are Virgin Oil, Ordinary Virgin Oil and Lampante Virgin Oil.
The Health benefits of olive oil
Because of its purity, olive oil is good for the health.
It is healthy food for the heart
The fat in olive oil is monounsaturated fat (MUFA), which can lower cholesterol level, particularly the bad cholesterol LDL. When the bad cholesterol is lowered, your arteries are not clogged and you are not at risk for strokes or heart diseases. Olive oil also normalizes blood clots. Instead of using butter or other kinds of oil, replace it with olive oil instead.
It is full of anti-oxidants to fight off cancer
Vitamin E is an anti-oxidant, and lowers the growth of free radicals in the body, which can cause damages on healthy cells. In the long run, it can damage blood vessels and DNA, and can lead to cancer.
It regulates blood pressure, preventing high blood pressure
The MUFA found in olive oil has high content of essential fatty acids called Omega-3. Along with MUFA, Omega-3 lowers blood pressure and keeps the heart healthy. Omega-3 can only be sourced from food like olive oil as our bodies do not produce Omega-3.
It regulates mood, particularly depression
Aside the above-listed physical health benefits, olive oil is also good for emotional well-being. A study supports that higher intake of olive oil lowers the risk of mental illness.
It prevents osteoporosis
This is a medical condition where the bones become fragile and brittle due to hormonal changes or lack of calcium or vitamin D.
Olive oil has enough calcium content to positively affect bone density, thus preventing osteoporosis.
It lowers tendencies towards Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s comes with aging. It is a mental disorder or cognitive decline that includes memory loss and difficulty in language, thinking or problem-solving. An olive oil extract, oleocanthal, can protect from you from Alzheimer’s.
It has anti-inflammatory properties
Olive oil contains anti-inflammatory properties like those found in ibuprofen that can help in rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic or acute inflammations.
Cooking with olive oil
There is much debate going on whether it is safe to cook with olive oil in high heat. Food experts say that olive oil has a ‘smoke point’. It means that at 320 degrees Fahrenheit, extra virgin olive oil will start to break down and lose its character that contains health benefits, and instead, at such high heat, it will produce chemicals that are bad for the body.
However, medical doctors and researchers assure us that olive oil is stable under heat or when used in cooking. The component MUFA makes it more resistant than other kinds of oils.
So go ahead and enjoy your olive oil when you stir-fry, or use it as a replacement of butter. Not only is it delicious, and it also has loads of health benefits.