For the past few decades, Mediterranean diets have grown in popularity not only in Greece and Italy but also in America and other parts of the world. Health organizations recognize this diet as a health-friendly eating plan that promotes general health and prevents chronic diseases.
An essential staple in the Mediterranean diet is olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is a type of olive oil, naturally extracted and richer in nutrients and antioxidants than any other cooking oil.
Several medical authorities suggest that extra virgin olive oil is the best oil available. Among other things, regular intake of EVOO protects the heart health.
Olive Oil vs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The colors of olive oil and extra virgin olive oil often differ. Olive oil takes on a clear gold look, while extra virgin olive oil is usually green-gold. However, color is not the most distinguishing element of these two oils. There is more.
Extra virgin olive oil is extracted without heat, and it isn’t treated with chemicals. As a result, it contains no additives, no more than one percent of oleic acid and maintains the rich flavor, taste and aroma of the olive fruit. Regular olive oil on the hand is a refined oil, processed by heat and chemicals-that remove flaws and enhance its marketability.
During the extraction process, olive oil gets stripped of most antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, that extra virgin olive oil are revered for. In addition, extra virgin olive oil is an abundant source of other essential minerals and vitamins, required for a healthy life.
The best way to add extra virgin olive oil into your diet is in its raw form. This is because EVOO is more sensitive to heat than other oils.
When used in cooking, it burns at a lesser temperature, and some of its nutrients might be compromised. Here are great ways to use EVOO and maximize its health benefits.
- Dressings: EVOO is perfect for fresh salad dressings. It can be tossed with a variety of salad types and styles to give you strong aromas and great tastes. EVOO tossed in potatoes salads also make a healthier and more delicious meal.
- Dips: Greeks enjoy bread dipped in extra virgin olive oil and you can too. EVOO dipped bread is a popular way to consume olive oil for its unique flavors and fruitiness.
- Cold and Warm Dishes: This is perhaps the most versatile use of EVOO. Extra virgin olive oil can be drizzled on different types of warm and cold food, from hummus, sautéed or grilled vegetables, pizza to almost everything.
- Antioxidant properties: The high density of Vitamin E and K, as well as other antioxidants compounds, helps extra virgin olive oil protect the body from harmful diseases caused by free radicals. Free radicals are hazardous oxygen molecules responsible for cell damage and other serious health conditions.
- Anti-inflammatory: Chronic inflammation is linked to several health problems, including rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, heart diseases, and much more. Monounsaturated fats, a key component of EVOO, play a vital role in reducing the markers of inflammation. EVOO is also rich in oleocanthal, an antioxidant effective in lowering joints and body pain symptoms of arthritis.
- Prevents Heart Diseases: Research has found that Mediterranean regions that consume EVOO have a lower incidence of heart-related conditions. EVOO is outstanding for protecting the heart from dangerous ailments such as cardiovascular and coronary diseases. This oil is also potent in reducing hypertension, a leading cause of heart issues.
- Reduces Risk of Stroke: Another reason to adopt EVOO into your daily diet is its potency against stroke. Stroke is a dangerous disease, especially among elderly people. Yearly, this condition claims the lives of over 140,000 people in the US. Studies show that monounsaturated fats in EVOO can significantly reduce the risk factor of stroke.
There are other variants of olive oil, such as light olive oil, pure olive oil, virgin olive oil and so on. However, extra virgin olive oil is the variant with the highest quality and offers the best health benefits. You should also be aware that extra virgin olive oil is pricier than other, but keep in mind that you can’t place a price on quality.