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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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