Super Food: Olive Oil

Cold pressed olive oil from the freshly picked berries is a light green to deep-yellow color, depending on the maturity. Green olives yield greenish, bitter, and pungent oil, while black fruits can be pressed to a less pungent, yellow oil. Fresh oil has very low free fatty acids and natively cold-pressed oil has less than half a percent of free fatty acids. Extra virgin oils generally have less than one percent of fatty free acids.

Olive oil is the best edible oil in terms of palatability, stability, lipid profile, and safety profiles. It is extremely rich in energy. 100 grams of oil provides 884 calories. Its high ratio of mono-unsaturated fatty acids to saturated fatty acids makes it a very healthy oil for consumption. Olive oil has an excellent lipid profile. Saturated, mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated  fats are distributed at healthy proportions.

Olive oil has distinct flavor and taste. Unlike many other oils, which are extracted from nuts and seeds, the oil is obtained from the olive fruits and as such contains large amounts of plant-derived anti-oxidants, phyto-sterols, and vitamins. This makes olive oil one of the healthiest edible oils. This is also because it contains less saturated fats, and is composed of oleic and linolenic acid essential fatty acids at the recommended ratio of 8:1.

The oil is high in calories. Its high-calorie content is because of its fats. It is especially rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid and palmitoleic acid that help to lower LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol in the blood. Research studies suggest that the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, help to prevent coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring a healthy blood lipid profile.

Olive oil, especially extra virgin, contains tyrosol phenolic compounds such as oleuropein andoleocanthal. These compounds are responsible for its bitter, and pungent taste. Oleocanthal, oleurpein, and its derivative hydroxytyrosol are nature’s most powerful anti-oxidants. Together with vitamin-E and carotenoids, they play a vital role fighting against cancer, inflammation, coronary artery disease, degenerative nerve diseases, and diabetes.

Studies suggest that oleocanthal has anti-inflammatory properties. The Mediterranean diet that uses olive oil may be responsible in part for the low incidence of coronary artery disease.

As it is from a vegetable source, it has very high levels of plant sterols, especially B-sitosterol. Phyto-sterols competitively inhibit cholesterol absorption in the gut and thereby can reduce total cholesterol levels by 10 to 15 percent.

Olive oil is rich in vitamin-E. 100 grams of fresh extra-virgin oil contains 14.39 micrograms, almost 100 percent of our RDA, of alpha-tocopherol. Vitamin-E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant, required for maintaining the integrity of the cell membrane of mucus membranes and skin by protecting it from harmful oxygen-free radicals.

In addition, extra-virgin oil is also a very good source of vitamin-K. Vitamin-K has a potential role in the increase of bone mass by promoting osteotrophic activity in the bone. It also has established a role in Alzheimer’s disease patients, by limiting neuronal damage in the brain.

Try to buy fresh, cold-pressed oil using mature, greenish-yellow olive fruits, since it is purest and superior in flavor and rich in anti-oxidants. Native, cold-pressed oil using the traditional method is devoid of chemicals, less acidic, and has a long shelf life. Extra virgin oil can also be cold pressed using machines, without adding chemicals or excessive heat.

Happy Lifting!

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