I visited European olive oils stall during this years Taste of London festival where I was given private olive oil testing by Teresa Pérez Millán – director of Interprofesional del Aceite de Oliva Español which with help from EU and Spain promote benefits of olive oil in their “Everything’s Better with Olive Oil” campaign.
I have been always big fan of olive oil, it is one of must have ingredients in my kitchen that I like to use in salads, cooking, baking (instead of melted butter) and in all other possible ways but now when I know more about health benefits behind the olive oil I will be definitely using it much more… even on my bread instead of butter.
There are three major types of olive oil
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Highest rating olive oil obtained directly from the fruit and exclusively with the use of specialised machinery. It has a rich aroma and taste with an acidity of less that 0.8%.
- Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil extracted directly from the fruit and exclusively with the use of specialised machinery. It has a pleasant aroma and taste with an acidity of less that 2%.
- Olive Oil
Mixture of olive oil extracted directly from the fruit and exclusively with the use of specialised machinery and olive oil that has undergone a refining process correcting the aroma, the colour and the acidity. It has an acidity below 1%.
There is no doubt that extra virgin olive oil which is just pure olive juice is entirely natural product and has been produced and consumed at the Mediterranean Basin for millenniums, is one of the healthiest oils available.
That is why the Mediterranean diet is so popular being tasty and healthy at the same time.
It is good to add extra or virgin olive oil to the salads, taste great also on bread and refined olive oil can be used for cooking and baking.
Thanks to it’s properties olive oil penetrates the food much less than other oils, the foods don’t absorb it so easily so less can be used. For instance in frying the egg, if you use olive oil fried egg have only 108 calories (78 calories when raw).
It adds a lot of flavour to prepared dishes, even unflavoured virgin olive oil varies it taste and spiciness… depending on fruits it come from, area, repines and climate factors. Each one is different just like wine, you must find the one you like the best and that matches the dish you prepare.
Spain is a leader in olive oil production, followed by Italy, Greece, Syria, Morocco, Turkey, Tunisia, Portugal and Algeria.
Uses of olive oil
- Health Benefits
Mono-unsaturated fats like those from olive oil are linked with a reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease. Olive oil contains a wide variety of valuable antioxidants that are not found in other oils. It is also very good for functioning of the brain.
- Skin Care
Olive oil is great moisturiser, it is often used in lip balms, hair care products, body lotions and soaps.
- Medical Use
It is very unlikely someone would be allergic to olive oil that is why it is used in preparation of medications and balms.
- Culinary Use
You can use olive oil practically in any recipe calling for oil or butter: salads, cooking, baking, making sauces, mayonnaise just to mention few.
In many religions olive tree has significant place. Olive branch is an international peace symbol. Ancient Greeks considered the olive tree to be a symbol of fertility and for that reason women wanting to have a baby were resting under olive oil tree for siesta.
- Important for the Climate
Olive oil groves help to reduce CO2 in the air.
There is something very basic that I did not know about olives – green and black olives are one and the same fruit that turn from green, through yellowish green into purple and bluish black once they are completely mature. Olive oil is made out of both green olives (more green, spicy oil, because that is when they have most chlorophyll) and black olives (more yellow, sweet, fruity oil).
A professional chef at the show was showing us how to prepare healthy Tabbouleh with lots of mint and olive oil of course, one of the recipes I’m going to try out next…
After learning all those olive oil facts I think I have no other choice but start Mediterranean diet full of extra virgin olive oil this summer, husband does not seem to happy about it but I’m sure he will change his mind very soon… after he will try some of the dishes (!)
You can see couple more photos from Taste of London in my previous post: Visiting Taste of London Festival.