Olive Oil For Healthy Living
Olive oil is obtained from olives that are widely grown in the Mediterranean region. It is the most favored cooking medium in all countries in this area and is extracted by pressing and crushing the olives. It is available in different varieties which are governed by the amount of processing the oil goes through. The extra virgin oil is said to be the best and is the least processed and obtained form the first pressing of the olives. Virgin grade is obtained from the second pressing. Pure oil goes though a process of refining and filtering whereas the extra light oil undergoes considerable processing and only has a mild olive flavor. Olive trees are also now grown in Australia where the good soil conditions have led to production of olive oil that is considered as one of the best in the world. The olives are first ground into a paste, before the paste is laid in layers in presses which then extract the oil. Modern processors use centrifuges instead of presses to extract the oil.
Olive oil consists of monounsaturated fats and being a natural juice the taste, aroma and the vitamins from the original olive fruit make their presence known. The oil can be consumed freshly pressed and does not need any processing. Its high content of monounsaturated fatty acids and its high content of antioxidants make it a very healthy food. It controls bad cholesterol and raises the good cholesterol. The oil is tolerated easily by the digestive system and it has a beneficial effect on ulcers, gastritis and heart disease. It activates the secretion of bile and the production of pancreatic hormones all of which help the bodily processes and prevent formation of gall stones.
Extra virgin oil from olives, the oil of the first pressing has a high level of antioxidants, phenols and Vitamin E. Heart disease is controlled by its consumption because of the increase in good cholesterol. It also helps in preventing colon cancer and has almost the same beneficial effect as fish oils. While the extra virgin oil is the right one to buy and use, its availability is limited and the olive oils generally available in supermarkets are of the commercial variety which have been processed. Olive oils that are sold as pure would generally have a little bit of extra virgin oil added to it. Olive oil is also mixed with other vegetable oils and the true olive oil enthusiast would prefer to buy the extra virgin oil even if it is at a higher cost.
Olive oil needs care in its storage and should be kept away from light and heat. The container should be tightly sealed as oxygen from the air can cause it to go rancid. Olive oil has been around for centuries and even now, ancient Roman shipwrecks have been found around the world carrying sealed amphorae containing olive oil. Even in those ancient times the Romans considered the oil good enough to transport on their various adventures so that they could eat healthy.