Tuesday, February 18, 2014


 Good healthy food and taste are not always synonymous with each other- although the same is not true in the case of olive oil- one of the healthiest oils in the world. Used globally for its unique flavour and taste, olive oil is appreciated for its myriad health benefits besides a few other interestingly surprising uses at home as well as on the body.

Virgin Olive Oils contains many phytochemicals (natural plant chemicals) – vitamins, antioxidants and polyphenols - that have been clinically proven to be good for health in several ways.It is no wonder that Homer called it liquid gold and Hippocrates referred to it as the great therapeutic.

Origin and Source
Olive oil is a fat acquired from the fruit of Olea europaea (olive) known as Oleaceae, belonging to the family of a traditional tree in the Mediterranean Basin.  The oil extracted via mechanical or chemical process is used throughout the world, although the oil has remained a staple of Greek cuisine.  Hence, according to history Greece remains the place of origin for olive oil.

First Oil Extraction
The first recorded extraction of olive oil is from the Hebrew Bible during the 13th century BC, which took place during the Exodus from Egypt. During this time, the oil was obtained through squeezing the berries manually by hands and stored in special containers under protection of the priests.

Classification of Olive Oil

Olive oil is extracted by pressing or crushing olives. It is classified depending on the amount of processing involved.

As per the International Olive Council, the following are the types of Olive Oil that are fit for human consumption:

Virgin Olive Oils
Virgin indicates the oil produced by the use of physical means and no chemical treatment with acidity less than 1.5%, having good taste.

The oil extracted from olives using purely mechanical means, under conditions (especially temperature) that do not alter the oil. Further sub-divided into extra virgin, virgin and ordinary virgin olive oil based on the acidity of the oil.

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Extra-virgin olive oil is derived from virgin oil production.  It contains no more than 0.8% acidity, and is said to have superior taste

Refined Olive Oil
The oil refined from virgin olive oils using methods that do not change the fatty acid structure of the oil.

Olive Oil
A blend of refined olive oil and virgin olive oils – some manufacturers incorrectly call this type Light Olive Oil or Pure Olive Oil'.

Pure Olive Oil
Oils labelled as pure olive oil or Olive oil is usually a blend of refined and virgin production oil of no more than 2% acidity.  It commonly lacks a strong flavour.

Light olive oil
Light olive oil undergoes considerable processing and only retains a very mild olive flavour.

Olive-Pomace Oils
The oil obtained by treating olive pomace (the pulp that remains after obtaining all oil that can be extracted mechanically) with solvents or other physical treatments. Further sub-divided into Refined Olive-Pomace Oil and Olive-Pomace Oil, which is a blend of refined olive-pomace oil and virgin olive oils.

It is relevant to point out that as per India’s Foods Safety and Standards Regulations, there are just 3 types of olive oils: Virgin Olive Oil, Refined Olive Oil and Refined Olive-Pomace Oil.

Virgin Olive Oils are best for salads, marination, dips and for drizzling over prepared dishes. Refined Olive Oil is best for cooking when the taste of olive oil is not desired and when one tends to cook at high temperatures.

It is recommended to use Virgin Olive Oils as far as possible – they are the healthiest and since it is anyway not advisable to cook foods at very high temperatures, they are quite suitable for all kinds of cooking.

Olive-Pomace Oil as not really suitable for the kitchen – the processing has rid it of all Vitamin E and other phytochemicals, and thanks to the extensive processing, can feel quite greasy and can have a cooked taste.

Nutrition Facts

Olive Oil Nutritional value per 100 g

Energy                 3,701 kJ (885 kcal)
Carbohydrates                0 g
Fat                           100 g
saturated                      14 g
monounsaturated     73 g
polyunsaturated             11 g
omega-3 fat                 <1.5 g
omega-6 fat            3.5–21 g
Protein                     0 g
Vitamin E                   14 mg (93%)
Vitamin K                  62 µg (59%)

Fatty acid            Percentage
Oleic acid              55 to 83%
Linoleic acid              3.5 to 21%
Palmitic acid              7.5 to 20%
Stearic acid              0.5 to 5%
a-Linolenic acid              0 to 1.5%

Health Benefits Of Olive Oil

Heart Health
Olive oil comprising primarily of monounsaturated fatty acids, consists of 75% of the fatty acid content in olive oil known as oleic acid.  This substance is correlated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease.

Stabilises Blood Pressure
Olive oil helps assists in stabilizing blood pressure. its minor components, such as alpha-tocopherol, polyphenols, and other phenolic compounds combined with a high oleic acid content helps lower blood pressure.  Nitric acid a chemical compound present in the body produced through the digestion of foods containing nitrate is a natural alternative for lowering high blood pressure.  This chemical besides relaxing the arteries decreases vascular smooth muscle tone and inhibits blood from clotting rapidly.  When arteries relax, the blood pressure decreases with an enhanced flow of blood throughout the body.

Decrease Atherosclerosis
A process of plaque formation, thickening and blocking of the arteries known as Atherosclerosis can often lead to heart attacks and stroke. However, the anti-oxidants elements in olive oil help decrease atherosclerosis

Regulates Cholesterol
Olive does more than make scrumptious dishes. It is well documented that, when combined with a nutritious diet, this oil's antioxidant properties can have a positive impact on cholesterol levels and heart health.

Consumption of olive oil on a regular basis has favourable effects on cholesterol and oxidation of LDL cholesterol.  This is because of the presence of a chemical, oleuropein along with carotenoids and antioxidants such as vitamin E. These offer anti-inflammatory, antithrombotic, antihypertensive as well as vasodilator effects.

Improves Memory
Some research has shown that olive oil can prevent and possibly even reverse memory loss that accompanies Alzheimer’s disease.

Diabetes Control
Research shows, including olive oil in ones diet controls diabetes better. Some researches show that monounsaturated fat could actually help to lower blood sugar levels; one study found that blood sugar levels were lower in diabetics who ate a diet rich in monounsaturated fat than those who simply ate a low-fat diet.

Free Radicals
Antioxidants present in olive oil helps inhibit free radical cells thereby protecting from degenerative diseases.

Cancer Prevention
Olive oil plays an important part in reducing risk of certain types of cancer, such as colon, breast, ovarian, and prostate. According to a study by a European research team, a waxy hydrocarbon that coats the skin of olives called triterpenes, helped trigger a natural process of death in human cancer cells. A study published in the issue of Annals of Oncology has identified oleic acid as having the ability to reduce the effect of an oncogene, a gene that will turn a host cell into a cancer cell.

Prevents Asthma
The anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of olive oil prevent Asthma.

Weight Loss
Research suggests that replacing other types of fats with monounsaturated fat, especially olive oil benefits to lose a moderate amount of weight without additional food restriction or physical activity. Some studies showed that when people substituted mono-unsaturated-fat-rich olive oil for saturated fat, they either maintained their weight or lost weight. A diet high in monounsaturated fat and low in carbohydrates actually resulted in more weight loss than a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet

Anti Inflammatory Conditions
Olive oil contains high levels of phytonutrients, polyphenols and mono-unsaturated healthy fats, which help, reduce the inflammation associated with conditions like asthma, osteoporosis, and arthritis.

Digestive Health
Olive oil is known to be gentle on the digestive system. In fact, its protective function has a beneficial effect on ulcers and gastritis. Olive oil activates the secretion of bile and pancreatic hormones much more naturally than prescribed drugs. Consequently, it lowers the incidence of gallstone formation.

Ear-ache Remedy
Olive oil is used as a natural remedy for earaches; simply apply some heated or ambient-temperature oil to the ear that hurts for relief and regulation of excess wax

Itchy throat
Many people believe that taking a sip of olive oil before heading to bed can help lubricate your throat muscles, thus cutting down on snoring. Others have noted that downing a teaspoon of olive oil can help soothe a scratchy or ticklish throat.

Lowers Depression
According to Spanish researchers a diet rich in olive oil can protect from mental illness.  A higher intake of olive oil and polyunsaturated fats found in fatty fish and vegetable oils was associated with a lower risk of depression.

Metabolic Syndrome
As per a new study consumption of monounsaturated fats mainly in the form of olive oil, daily consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grain cereals, and low-fat dairy products, weekly consumption of ?sh, poultry, legumes, and a relatively low consumption of red meat, may reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome.

In addition, when added as part of a regular beauty regimen, it can improve the health of your skin and hair.

Benefits of Olive Oil for Skin

The antioxidants contained in olive oil can benefit more than your heart. Because this substance prevents cell destruction, it fights the signs of aging and gives you a more youthful appearance. When applied topically, olive oil moisturizes and softens dry skin. Since the product is natural, adverse reactions are not common.

The problem with a lot of commercial skincare products is that the moisturizing ingredients don't penetrate the skin. Extra virgin olive oil is composed of more than 80 percent oleic acid. This substance easily penetrates the skin, and allows the oil to heal damage, reduce wrinkles and improve texture.

Glowing Skin 
Olive oil has the added advantage of providing strong antioxidants, like Vitamins A and Vitamin E, that help repair and renew skin that has been damaged from overexposure to sun, environmental pollution, and other modern-day hazards – like junk food and cigarette smoke. These antioxidants have the natural ability to stimulate cells and return skin to a firmer, smoother, and healthier state.

Applying olive oil can benefit in the following skin conditions:

Prevents pimples and clogging pores
Moisturizes Chapped lips
Prevent premature skin aging
Treats sunburn
Treat Diaper Rash
Makes a great after shave
Substitute for shaving cream
Used in a wide variety of soaps, lotions, skin creams, shampoos and other cosmetic products
Reduce appearance of stretch marks
Removes makeup
Makes a safe sunless tan
Smoothes and moisturize rough, dry feet
Strengthens weak and brittle nails (also see benefits of Olive Oil for Nails)

Benefits of Olive Oil for Hair

Rich in poly-phenol with anti bacterial and anti fungal properties Olive oil promotes healthier and more manageable hair. Olive oil hair treatment results in the scalp becoming cleaner and tends to smoothen out frizzy dry hair, improves elasticity and prevents breakage. A lesser-known fact about olive oil is that it is also effective in tackling the problem of hair lice. 

If you struggle with dry, brittle hair, keeping a bottle of olive oil handy can help. A weekly deep conditioner of olive oil can be used in the place of products that contain silicone ingredients to make the hair more manageable. Shampoos that contain sulfates will strip the moisture out of your hair and make it look drab and lifeless. Using olive oil in the place of your regular commercial conditioners can moisturize the hair and give it a healthy sheen.

Few more benefits of olive oil for hair

Olive oil prevents premature gray hair
Darkens and highlights eyelashes
Promotes hair growth
Other Uses of Olive Oil

Removes Paint/Car Grease
Lubricates Measuring Cups and Spoons
Prevents mosquito breeding
A sweet-smelling, clean-burning lamp oil
Shoe polish
Easy clean up of garden tools
Conditions chopping boards
Promotes healthy coat in cats
Waterproofs work boots
Removes stickers
Removes chewing gum from skin/ non-porous surfaces
Ease Stuck Zippers
Polish silver and copper
Shine stainless steel and brass
Clean cast-iron skillet
Conditions leather
Fix Squeaky Doors

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