Thinking about Mediterranean Cuisine, the first thing that comes to your mind is pita bread, wine, and olive oils. It is a core ingredient in these cuisines. The ancient Greeks and Roman cuisines used olive oil too. It is made by pressing whole olives and extracting oils from them. Olives have been grown since the 8th millennium BC. Olive oils are primarily cooking mediums. And are available in different types. Apart from being used as cooking oils, they find their usage in making medicine, beauty products, therapies, massages, etc.
The primary usage of Olive oil is for cooking and salad preparations. Olive oil is classified, in part, according to acid content, measured as free oleic acid. Extra virgin olive oil contains a maximum of 1% free oleic acid, virgin olive oil contains 2%, and ordinary olive oil contains 3.3%. Unrefined olive oils with more than 3.3% free oleic acid are considered “unfit for human consumption.”
Use of Olive Oil
Olive oil is considered one of the best edible oils with antioxidant properties and health benefits. It has high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids, which reduces the body’s total cholesterol levels, which may help lower your risk of heart disease. In addition, olive leaf and olive oil might lower blood pressure. Olive might also be able to kill microbes, such as bacteria and fungus.
Nutritional Facts of Olive Oil:
The nutritional values per 14g of one tablespoon olive oil are:
- Calories 120
- 14 g Total Fat
- 2.2 g Saturated Fat
- 1.8 g Polyunsaturated Fat
- 10 g Monounsaturated Fat
Types of Olive Oil
Using the correct type of olive oil is crucial. There are five primary grades of olive oil – extra virgin oil, virgin oil, refined oil, pure olive oil and olive pomace oil. Each type of oil has a different smoke point, and this smoke point depends on the quality of the oil. The lower the smoke point of oil, the better the quality. An oil with a high smoke point is appropriate for cooking or other uses. Using oils with high smoke points for salads and dressing is not advisable.
1. EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
It is the best quality olive oil. It undergoes cold processing, which prevents the natural content from altering after exposure to high temperatures. As a result, it has a low acid content, even lower than virgin oil.
It is an unrefined form of olive oil extracted using the cold-pressing technique. It has a slightly higher level of acidity content that ranges between 1 to 4 per cent. Another speciality of this oil is that it is temperature resistant. In comparison to extra virgin oil, the taste is milder and is suitable for low heat cooking. It is also ideal for salad dressing.
Pure Olive oil is created by mixing either extra virgin or virgin oil with the refined one. It is rich in Vitamin E and is used only for heat and cooking or body massages and therapies.
It is considered a moderate quality oil. Refined olive oil primarily comes into use for cooking only. It is appropriate for all cooking techniques, but more so when cooking at a high temperature. It has the same fat content as the above two oils.
5. OLIVE POMACE OIL
Pomace type is the lowest quality olive oil available in the market. Pomace comes from the residues and the remains left after the fruit’s pressing is completed. Once the actual fruits are pressed, there is still oil and water left. This remaining oil is extracted and mixed with high-quality oils to improve its quality. But this oil is only suitable for heat and cooking or massages, and other therapies.
Health Benefits of Olive Oil
1. Promotes Heart Health
Olive oil protects against inflammation. It reduces LDL oxidation (bad cholesterol) and improves the endothelium’s function, lining the blood vessels. It manages blood clotting and lowers blood pressure as well.
2. Reduces the Risk of Cancer
Olive oil consists of oleic acid, which is highly resistant to oxidation. As a result, it has beneficial effects on genes linked to cancer. In addition, olive oil is rich in compounds that can help fight cancer at a molecular level.
3. Relieves Pain and Inflammation
The leading cause of inflammation in the body is C-reactive protein. And this protein increases during conditions like arthritis. Olive oil has polyphenol oleocanthal that contains anti-inflammatory properties and works similar to ibuprofen.
4. Boosts Bone Health
Regular intake of olive oil is beneficial for bone health. It has bone-building calcium and vitamin D. Daily consumption of olive oil stimulates bone formation and prevents bone breakdown.
5. Prevents Stroke
Stroke is the second most common cause of death. Olive oil is a healthy fat that reduces the risk of strokes.
6. Balances Blood Sugar and Prevents Diabetes
It contains healthy fats that are crucial to managing type 2 diabetes. Therefore, olive oil’s good fats help slow down the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream. Consequently, this controls the sugar levels in the blood.
Ways to Consume Olive Oil
Olive oil is known for its distinctive flavour. It adds zing to everything from pesto sauce to meats to roasted veggies (you can even use milder varieties for baking).
Recipe 1- Basil Bread
This recipe is rich in flavours, health and a unique presentation. It contains fresh basil, tomatoes, garlic, and shredded cheese.
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (toast by heating in a non-stick skillet on medium heat, often stirring, until golden brown)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- Pinch salt (optional)
- 10-inch-thick slices of French or sourdough bread, preferably made with part whole-wheat flour
- Put all of the ingredients except the bread in a small food processor.
- Pulse briefly to blend well.
- Spread about 1/2 tablespoon spread on each bread slice and place on a foil-lined cookie sheet.
- Boil about 6 inches from heat, observing, until spread is bubbly and lightly brown (two-three minutes).
Recipe 2- Olive Oil Salad
This recipe breaks the stereotype that salads and sprouts are boring. This refreshing salad is made with brussels sprouts, olive oil, cheese and lemon juice.
- 450g brussels sprouts
- Five tablespoons extra-virgin oil
- Salt to taste
- 3 ½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ½-1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, crushed
- 115g pecorino cheese
- Rinse the sprouts, let them dry for some time.
- Remove discoloured leaves and cut the sprouts halfway lengthwise.
- Slice the sprouts into thin layers and transfer them into a large bowl.
- Drizzle the oil over sprouts, add salt and toss the mixture.
- Add lemon juice, black pepper and toss it again. Spread the cheese on the top of the salad and serve it immediately.
Apart from being used in cooking and for dressings, olive oil is famous for other usages. For example, olive oils are part of medicines, beauty products, different soaps, etc. In ancient times people also used olive oils for lighting lamps. Currently, it can serve as an excellent replacement for makeup removers and moisturizers. But if you are opting for olive oil as a moisturizer, please check your skin type first. It is ideal for normal to dry skin. Generally, Pure olive oil is excellent for body and hair massages at home and spas. It is great for babies too.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
A. Yes, you can use olive oil any time of the year.
A. Olive oil has a positive impact on cardiovascular health, diabetes and metabolic conditions, reduction in cancer rates, and other common illnesses.
A. Yes, you can reuse olive oil.
A. Extra virgin olive oil is perfect for sauces, sautés, marinades, and vinaigrettes, in addition to being a fine finishing oil or simply as a dipping sauce for bread.
A. Olive oil has 884 calories per 100g.