The Greek olive oil is the staple ingredient in the Mediterranean Diet. It is considered the healthiest product since it does not contain cholesterol and can be consumed either raw or cooked. Olive oil is rich in vitamins and antioxidants and is beneficial to your health. It is recommended in most diet and dietary plans around the world.
The quality of olive oil production, especially at the stage of pressing, makes a key difference when it comes to health benefits.
Mediterranean Diet studies have long associated olive oil intake with decreased risk of heart disease. However, a recent group of studies has provided us with a fascinating explanation of olive oil's overprotective effect. One of the key polyphenols in olive oil—hydroxytyrosol (HT)—helps protect the cells that line our blood vessels from being damaged by overly reactive oxygen molecules. HT helps protect the blood vessel cells by triggering changes at a genetic level. The genetic changes triggered by HT help the blood vessel cells to enhance their antioxidant defense system. In other words, olive oil supports our blood vessels by providing antioxidants like like vitamin E and beta-carotene. Olive oil also provides our blood vessels with unique molecules like HT that actually work at a genetic level to help the cellular walls of the blood vessels remain strong.
Olive oil has long been recognized for its unusual fat content. It is one of the few widely used culinary oils that contains about 75% of its fat in the form of oleic acid (a monounsaturated, omega-9 fatty acid). In terms of monounsaturated fat, the closest common culinary oil to olive is canola oil, with about 60% of its fat in monounsaturated form. By contrast, the fat in soybean oil in only 50-55% monounsaturated; in corn oil, it's about 60%; in sunflower oil, about 20%; and in safflower oil, only 15%. When diets low in monounsaturated fat are altered to increase the monounsaturated fat content (by replacing other oils with olive oil), research study participants tend to experience a significant decrease in their total blood cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and LDL:HDL ratio. Recent research studies have taken these heart-healthy effects of olive oil one step further. Olive oil's monounsaturated fat content (specifically, its high level of oleic acid) has now been determined to be a mechanism linking olive oil intake to decreased blood pressure. Researchers believe that the plentiful amount of oleic acid in olive oil gets absorbed into the body, finds its way into cell membranes, changes signaling patterns at a cell membrane level (specifically, altering G-protein associated cascades) and thereby lowers blood pressure. To our knowledge, this is the first time that the monounsaturated fat content of olive oil has been linked not only to cholesterol reduction, but also to reduction of blood pressure.
Store olive oil in a dark, room-temperature cupboard.