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How Well Do You Know Your Olive Oil

Olive Oil

There are a lot of us who prefer using olive oil as compared to other vegetable oils for daily consumption. Some of us enjoy the flavour, some of us love its smell and majority of us consume it to reap out the extra benefits for our health. Yes, olive oil does offer extra health benefits. I will share two most important benefits for our health:

1. Richer In Antioxidants: What are antioxidants and how do we benefit from them?Before we understand antioxidants and their benefits for us, it is important to understand the process of Oxidation. In simple words, oxidation is a chemical reaction which if occurs, can produce free radicals. These free radicals are very chemically reactive and thus result in chain reactions. When a chain reaction occurs in a cell it can cause damage to the cell or even can destroy a cell.
Antioxidants help to inhibit the process of oxidation and in some instances help to inhibit the other chain reactions taking place in the cell.
Hence olive oil being richer in antioxidants provides the benefit of repairing damaged cells and helps to maintain these cells in good condition.

2. Monounsaturated Fats: Olive oil is rich in ‘unsaturated fats’ such as monounsaturated fats as compared to saturated and trans-fats which are found in many vegetable and animal based cooking oils.Monounsaturated fats help in lowering the risk of heart disease by reducing the cholesterol level and reducing the level of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (bad cholesterol that sticks to the artery walls).
Some research has also indicated that monounsaturated fats help in normalizing blood clots in our body and normalizing insulin levels thus controlling blood sugar. Hence olive oil is a much better alternative for maintaining a healthy heart and for people who have already reached a stage of type 2 diabetes.
However keep in mind that like most oils olive oil is rich in calories, so only if consumed in moderation one can reap out the maximum benefits.

As shared in my previous blog ‘MAKING INFORMED AND THUS BETTER DECISIONSmost of the olive oils especially ‘extra virgin’ olive oils sold in today’s market are not pure and thus do not offer the benefits as indicated above. Most of these olive oils are either blended with other vegetable oils, processed or have already lost most of the benefits. These are some points you should consider before buying your Olive Oil:

1. Make sure the bottle is dark tinted. Exposure to light can destroy the smell and flavour of olive oil. Avoid buying olive oil packaged in clear containers especially plastic ones. Also at home store them away in a cabinet away from light and heat.

2. Don’t buy if the label of extra virgin oil uses words such as purified, refined or blended. These brands are often produced with lower quality, blended with other vegetable oils to enhance the taste and are processed. In other words the product is not truly extra virgin or pure.

3. As compared to wines, oils do not improve in taste or quality with age. Oils lose their taste and quality with time. Please check the date to make sure you are not buying anything more than two years old.

4. As some of you may know that even small producers who grow olives, engage in making of fresh olive oil that makes it way to the market. Often such olive oil brands include their estate name on the bottle. Hence an estate name on the bottle is a mark of fine quality. Equally good is that some of the products may even have an official seal which guarantees that the oil comes from a designated region that specializes in producing oils – PDO( European Union’s official ‘Protected Designation Of Origin’ Seal) or a similar seal from Italy DOP (‘Denominazione di Origine Protetta‘). Just do not blindly buy if the product says ‘Product of Spain’ or ‘Product of Italy’, as some of these products may have been packaged or processed in these places and the actual olives are grown somewhere else.

5. A USDA (Certification ofUS department of Agriculture’) organic seal on olive oil bottle guarantees that the ninety-five per cent of the olive oil is made from olives that are grown free from pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Some brands may use their own country’s agriculture department seal or even get them certified by country they are exporting to. Again this seal guarantees a product of fine quality. However not all bottles may have it as some small producers cannot afford to get this certification.

I hope from tomorrow we can go to supermarket and purchase good quality of olive oils without hesitation. Please share your experiences and some information that I may have missed out in regards to this post.

Please do not hesitate to ask questions or to send your feedback.

Eat Healthy and Stay Fresh.

–          NAKUL BAJAJ

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Making informed and better decisions

FOOD LABEL

It’s a standard approach of any human beings-the higher the investment the greater is the level of involvement. If you are buying a house you will do a lot of research regarding the land prices, location, resale value, history of the house, crime index, garage size, distance from work, nearby transportation, etc. and etc. However if we compare it to renting a place we would skip through a lot of research. Why not? The investment is less, landlord does all the maintenance and there is hot water for my shower. The point I am trying to make is that we humans don’t treat our bodies as a house but as a rental. In other words we don’t invest much time or money in our health. Another example-buying 200 dollars’ worth of shoes doesn’t hurt your pocket but paying couple of extra dollars to buy organic grown food does. Are you with me? In today’s blog let’s talk about how we can make better and informed decisions.

Considering my last blog most of you will be thinking it’s impossible to get everything fresh. If you have been thinking that, you are certainly on the right track. I don’t want you to go buy a cow for fresh milk products or to open a poultry farm for your fresh chicken. However I do want you to consider, from where the products that you are consuming on a day-to-day basis, come from. I also want to share with you some information which may help you to buy better products:

1. Do not buy the food which says fat-free or sugar-free on its label specially when it tastes sweet and is fatty in nature. I am sorry but there is no sugar-free ice cream or fat-free yoghurt, neither there is sugar-free mango juice. So how do these companies get away with this? Did you know that if the food item has less than 0.5 grams of fat or less than 0.5 grams trans-fat per serving, legally the company is allowed to market the product as ‘zero grams of fat’ or ‘zero grams of trans-fat per serving.’ It amazes me how some cooking oil spray brands get away with this and have become consumer’s most preferential brands. Another loophole in the food labelling standards is that unless the product has less than five calories per serving, legally the product can advertise ‘zero calories’ on the label.

What difference does it make with 0.5 grams of fat or 5 calories? Honestly it makes minimal difference, however psychologically speaking us as consumers tend to consume more of the product if it is advertised as zero calories or zero grams of fat. If the serving size is just ten grams and we consume three servings, we are actually consuming fifteen grams of fat and fifteen calories.

2. Be suspicious of the products that advertise 100% pure or extra virgin on their labels. Again be suspicious, I am not asking you to eliminate them from your choice of purchase, as some of them are actually true and honest products. A research done in USA in 2011 using sample of 125 extra virgin olive oil brands, uncovered that two third of oils from this sample failed the purity test. This means that sixty-six per cent of the extra virgin oils sold in the market today are, fake!!! How we can differentiate between what is true and what is not?

Well if you can spend a year researching about buying a house or spend months researching about a car, you should surely increase your involvement in buying products that affect your health being. After all your body is your biggest asset and hence should be taken great care of. All you have to do is read the labels carefully. If the label print has words such as ‘pure blend’, ‘pure’ or ‘light’ on it; this means the product has gone through a chemical process and is a mix of other ingredients. If a ‘pure’ advertised product is priced cheaper than other products that do not claim to be pure, it’s a good decision to not consider that product unless it’s on promotion. It does not make sense that company is selling pure produce cheaper than the company selling processed produce, after all process is what saves these companies thousands of dollars.

Now just don’t fall into perception of higher the price of the product, the purity of the product increases. Again read the labels carefully.

After reading this you all would be interested in knowing how you being a consumer can buy better products for your health advantage. Well for one, know your serving size. If you are buying products advertised as zero calories and zero grams of fat, knowing your serving size can help you to keep track of your daily fat and calorie intake. Read your labels carefully, compare few different products. Just don’t buy the product if on ‘special’ or is offering discount or just if it claims to be pure. Make sure to ‘BE SUSPICIOUS!!!

In my next couple of blogs I will unveil the secrets of buying pure products such as olive oil, milk, honey, teas, fruits and how to choose your number one breakfast product ‘Cereal’.

Stay healthy, eat fresh and make informed decisions. 

  • NAKUL BAJAJ