I would like to welcome Jo Thomas, who tells us all about the health benefits of olive oil.
Did you know a spoonful of olive oil at night is supposed to reduce snoring? And that’s not it’s only health benefit.
Olive oil is the fat produced from olives, traditionally grown in the Mediterranean basin. Most of us have all heard about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, that people living there live long and healthy lives on a diet based on vegetables, poultry, fish, red wine and olive oil.
Olive oil is the foundation of this diet. It is said to affect cardiovascular health and blood cholesterol levels.
According to the Olive Oil Times:
'Olive oil benefits are so extensive that it's considered a functional food with components that contribute to its overall therapeutic qualities, including a reduction of risk factors of coronary heart disease, the prevention of cancers and alternatives of immune and inflammatory responses.'
This goes on to say:
'A diet rich in olive oil may actually be able to slow down the aging of the heart. That it helps with inflammation, minimises cancer risk including breast cancer, heart disease, decreases blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis and regular consumers may prevent strokes, depression and Alzheimer’s.’
It’s quite an impressive list, isn’t it?
There are many different types of olive oil, with different flavours and textures and uses. Of course olive oil is used in cooking across the Mediterranean. Different regions produce their own variety of olives, with distinctive flavours. I went to visit a local frantoio in Puglia, a local press, to buy oil directly from them. I saw the huge barn in which the olives are washed, pressed and ground and the oil it separated from the water. I tried a number of oils from huge stainless steel vats, eventually picking the one I enjoyed the most. I was told to only use this extra virgin oil for dressing food, salads and the like. Heating the oil can affect the flavour and you lose a lot of the taste you’re paying for. So for cooking, use a lower grade oil, not extra virgin, keep that for cold foods.
Extra virgin and virgin olive oil are like fruit juice, made from crushed olives. Other olive oils are refined using heat and chemicals, but according to Olive Oil Times this monosaturated fat is still a much healthier option than many other oils.
You can use olive oil instead of butter or any other more unhealthy oils in the kitchen. It's said that two tablespoons of olive oil a day will benefit your health and well-being. Olive oil is even said to improve mood.
lt's also said to be good for the skin and is used in lots of beauty products and soaps.
Buying olive oil can be a bit like buying good wine. You can start to read and learn about the labels, where the oil is from and when it was harvested. Then start to taste and think about the flavours that are there. An olive picked straight from the trees aren’t nice to eat. They’re bitter. They have to be soaked in brine first, then other flavours, herbs and spices can be added. But the bitterness is a good thing, that’s the nutrients. Olive Oil Times tells us we should recognise the bitterness and cherish it; it’s the sign of fresh, healthy olive oil.
All in all olive oil is said to be good for the health and good for your heart, and that’s something I would certainly agree with. A happy heart is what it’s all about for me.
The Olive Oil Times website suggests we:
'Replace other fats like butter with at least two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil every day, eat lots of veggies and go for a walk.'
That sounds like a good recipe for life to me.
If you’d like to read more about olive oil, here’s the link for Olive Oil Times: http://www.oliveoiltimes.com/
The Olive Branch
By Jo Thomas
Published by Headline Review (2 July 2015)
You can buy almost anything online these days. But is a crumbling Italian farmhouse a step too far?
Ruthie Collins certainly thinks so when she arrives amid pouring rain to an olive farm she doesn't know the first thing about running. But for Ruthie, newly single, anywhere has go to be better than her mum's settee. Hasn't it?
Life can change with the click of a mouse. But the finer things - friendship, romance and even the olive harvest - take time to grow. Can Ruthie put the past to rest and find her own piece of the Dolce Vita along the way?
Click here to read my review.