We have decided to treat the topic of extra virgin olive oil and nutrition in such depth because EVOO (Extra virgin olive oil) was seriously questioned by many pseudo-specialists because of its high fat content.
In this post, we are going to analyse all the benefits that extra virgin olive oil have for your health and its importance as part of the Mediterranean diet, a dietary model considered by all experts in nutrition as the most healthy in the world.
Possibly ‘influenced’ by big brand names, an attempt was made to substitute extra virgin olive oil with other types of oil and even butter.
Extra virgin olive oil and nutrition
Fortunately for the health of millions of people, studies began to appear little by little demonstrating that it is the use of olive oil in cooking which is most highly recommended and the greater the quality of the oil, the better.
To be highlighted among these studies is the great contribution made by Ancel Benjamin Keys, an American physiologist who studied the effects of diet on the cardiovascular system and a great defender of the Mediterranean diet, perhaps one of the precursors in the introduction of this dietary model.
Another American doctor called Carolyn Anderson joined these studies and demonstrated that through the elaboration of certain diets which included extra virgin olive oil, cancer could be reduced. And from that moment on, there was no longer any doubt about the health benefits of oil from first pressing or pressed in cold, which are those which guarantee the highest quality.
What is olive oil?
Before entering into each and every one of the nutritonal values of extra virgin olive oil, we are going to give a precise definition of what it is. EVOO is the natural juice of the olive. Premium oil, that is to say, oil of the highest quality, is made from the best fruits of each olive tree so that those fruits can be subjected to processes of cold pressing.
It is precisely this cold pressing that guarantees all its nutritional properties. By the way, you will often see that olive oil, besides being called the juice of the olive, is also called ‘liquid gold’. There must be some reason for this, don’t you think?
Benefits and nutritional properties of extra virgin olive oil
1. We have already pointed out that it is very good for the heart above all due to the presence of fatty acids.
2. It is a great antioxidant thanks to the presence of Vitamin E. Antioxidants are those agents responsible for retarding the ageing of all body cells.
3. The presence of polyphenols are of extreme importance. These are responsible for preventing the formation of cancerous cells. Polyphenols also preempt degenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer’s.
4. The monosaturated fats that the oil contains reduce levels of bad cholesterol.
5. It reduces stomach acid and prevents the appearance of ulcers.
6. It preempts diabetes because it reduces blood sugar levels.
7. It also helps to avoid constipation.
The fats in extra virgin olive oil
It is obvious to everyone that EVOO contains many fats. This word ‘fats’ can be associated with something bad, that they cause weight increase, etc … Well, nothing could be further from the truth. You must realize that fats are necessary for our health because among other things:
1. They are the body’s principal energy reserve.
2. They protect the body’s organism because they form part of cell membrane.
3. The chemical reactions of fats stimulate many vitamins necessary for our body.
4. Fats contain lipids, which serve to transport fat-soluble substances in the small intestine.
It is more than obvious that extra virgin olive oil is a very beneficial food element for your health. And you have also seen that it is very highly recommended for protecting your heart, for preventing degenerative illnesses and the appearance of cancerous cells thanks to the presence of polyphenols, but we must not forget that we are dealing with a food element that contains many calories. In fact, it is estimated that a table spoon of oil contains some 90Kcal.
What do we mean by this? That you must consume it in moderation because if you don’t, and in spite of all its beneficial qualites, it can make you put on weight.
It is exactly the same as with fruit and vegetables. They are very healthy – in fact the World Health Organization recommends eating five pieces of fruit/vegetables per day – but if you eat too many, you can also put on weight because of their sugar content.
The ideal quantity of extra virgin olive oil
So what then could be the ideal quantity so as benefit from all its positive effects? Between two and three tablespoons per day. Within this quantity, we can include consuming olive oil straight from the bottle, very typical in our dietary habits, on toast or as salad dressing (two of the most common foods in Spain).
You should also consume two or three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil when you use it for cooking. This is the best way of benefitting from the virtues of EVOO without going over the recommended daily intake of calories.
Premium extra virgin olive oil, high quality olive oils, are recommended to be used straight from the bottle, among other things because they are a real pleasure for the palate but if you choose to use them for cooking, a good way to avoid going over the recommended daily intake is to calculate one tablespoon per person in the dish prepared.
In a nutshell, Extra virgin olive oil should be a basic part of your Mediterranean diet because this dietary model is the healthiest in the world, as has already been demonstrated by nutritionists from all over the world.
In spite of the fact that EVOO has been vilified at some moments in time, it is the one which is most beneficial for your health. Nevertheless, a moderate intake is recommended because of the fats it contains which, on the other hand, are necessary for the human body. The higher the quality of the extra virgin olive oil, the greater the benefits you will obtain from it.
Do you consider olive oil a basic an essential part of any diet?
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