The Health Benefits of Olive Oil
The Mediterranean diet has become well-known by the liberated use of extra virgin olive oil. The average Greek consumes 20 litres of the golden liquid per year, in comparison to 2 litres per person, per year, in Australia. The Mediterranean diet is famously known for it’s positive impact on heart and cardiovascular health. No wonder Italians are known for being such romantics-their hearts and circulatory system are in tip top shape!
Types of Olive Oil
Extra virgin: This is considered to be the ‘bees knees’ of olive oil. It is made from the first pressing of the olives, using no chemicals and only a small amount of heat.
Virgin: Produced from the second pressing of the olives from the second-best grade, with little use of chemicals and minimal heat.
Olive oil: Oil that has been extracted from low quality olives that undergo a refining process, often involving high heat, chemical solvents, and high filtration treatments.
Light and extra: Processed from the last pressing of olives. Highly refined and a low quality grade of olives are used; there is little natural olive flavour in these oils.
Extra virgin olive oil is best!
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) has a high concentration of antioxidants and contains monounsaturated fatty acids, which has favourable effects on cardiovascular disease markers, such as a reduction in blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose levels. The benefits of these fats don’t stop there! The human brain is nearly 60% fat; the fatty acids in extra virgin olive oil may also help to support healthy cognitive function, and reduce degeneration of brain tissue. EVOO also has huge benefits for your digestive system, keeping your bowel movements in-check and supporting healthy function of the digestive organs, such as the liver, pancreas, and stomach.
EVOO is great for the body, both inside and out!
Here are some fantastic ways to use it:
- Olive oil as skincare: Fantastic for dry and cracked skin, EVOO helps restore skin to its natural glory! For particular dry or cracked heels, apply liberally before bed and throw on some cotton socks to trap in the moisture. Olive oil rubbed into your hair and applying as a 20 minute hair mask before you shower helps to alleviate dandruff and brighten those luscious locks. Pets can also benefit from EVOO-particularly on dry paws.
- Oil pulling therapy: This is an ancient Ayruvedic technique. A tablespoon of oil is swished around in the mouth for 15-20 minutes and then spat out. Apparently it helps to clean teeth and remove toxins and bacteria from the mouth. Nothing tried, nothing gained!
- It adds moisture to cakes: Rather than using vegetable oil, try using EVOO in your next baking recipe; it adds a dense moisture, making recipes more heart healthy.
- Wood polish: It seems like such a waste to use EVOO on such things, but it does work well for polishing wooden floors and furniture. If you’re going to use the oil for this, use a low-grade oil so the health benefits aren’t wasted.
- Salad dressing: Works lovely in a homemade salad dressing recipe. Try mixing together 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon of tahini, freshly squeezed lime juice, a pinch of cayenne, a teaspoon of raw honey, and a dash of salt to dress up a salad for two. Enjoy!
Locally produced EVOO is best, as local produced means the oils have spent less time in storage in comparison to imported oils. Best to store EVOO in an opaque, glass, air-tight container, or even in the refrigerator. EVOO can easily turn rancid if exposed to light, high heat, and oxygen. To preserve freshness and all the health benefits of EVOO, I store mine in the refrigerator and only use EVOO in salads, or drizzled on vegetables after they have been steamed. For cooking on high heat, I prefer to use organic coconut oil or organic, grass-fed butter.
For more information check the website The Olive Wellness Institute