Olive Oil, Your Health, Your Kitchen

Extra virgin olive oil has become such a symbol of healthy eating that it is hard to believe that it was once accused of increasing the harmful cholesterol. It had been a fat, so it had to be bad for us. Fortunately, we left those times behind and now olive oil & most fats are far better understood.

The main reason olive oil is healthy is because it really is rich in healthy monounsaturated essential 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 fatty acids.

Secondly, organic extra virgin essential olive oil also contains high levels 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 olive oil too.

So, the fact that essential olive oil is capable of resisting oxidation at higher temperatures superior to 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 is an old cooking technique that is extremely popular in the Mediterranean cuisines. It really 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 strategies for the kitchen

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

If it didn’t burn in your frying pan, it is possible to reuse olive oil around 3 x. Some say even five times, but I personally never utilize it more than twice.

Olive oil transmits flavors between foods, so never fry meat in essential olive oil you used to fry fish and vice versa. My grandmother always kept a jar for fish and one for meat close to the olive oil bottle. It is the best way never to get flavors mixed up.

Finally, olive oil looks thicker than other vegetable oils, but this is only appearance as, contrary to popular belief, it has no 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 a moderate intake of essential olive oil enhanced the vital functions of your body. In the 20th century, the late American doctor, Ancel Keys MD, documented that the 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 may be the Achilles’ heel of modern societies living at a frantic pace. Since Dr. Keys and his followers realized that we in the Mediterranean have a better cardiovascular health, the initial medical studies on olive oil focused mainly on that area.

They proved that olive oil balances the cholesterol levels, can reduce the risk of a heart attack, can play a role in preventing arteriosclerosis, and fights high blood pressure.

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

One particular study figured with only two tablespoons of virgin 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 simple.

How to integrate essential olive oil in your eating practices

The easiest way would be to get into the habit of drizzling essential olive oil over slices of bread or toasts, consuming 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’ll find people eating their own combination of bread and raw essential olive oil.

As a Catalan I eat pa amb tomaquet, literally bread with tomato, almost 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 say, and you will prepare it in no time 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 half on both sides, drizzle olive oil liberally over the bread and sprinkle some salt.

You can eat it plain or add any topping and accompaniment you prefer: prosciutto-style or cooked ham, cheese, tuna fish, an omelet, anchovies, figs, olives. EB1-A Even with a chocolate bar at coffee or tea time, it may sound weird, nonetheless it is delicious.

Other recipes with raw olive oil are authentic allioli, salads with essential olive oil dressing, cold sauces like romesco, and sopa de farigola or thyme soup. Because the Catalan saying goes: Sopa sense oli no val un dimoni, literally, Soup without oil isn’t worth a devil, meaning that a soup without oil is junk.