Olive Oil, YOUR WELLBEING, Your Kitchen

Extra virgin olive oil has become this type of symbol of healthy eating that it is hard to believe that it was once accused of increasing the harmful cholesterol. It was a fat, so it had to be harmful to us. Fortunately, we left those times behind and now olive oil and most fats are much better understood.

The main reason olive oil is healthy is because it is rich in healthy monounsaturated essential fatty acids. About 75% of this monounsaturated fat is oleic acid, that is very stable even at high temperatures. Moreover, our body processes oleic acid easier than other essential fatty acids.

Secondly, organic extra virgin essential olive oil also contains high levels of antioxidants like phenols, and vitamins E and A, which fight free radicals and thus prevent premature aging. Those antioxidants help neutralize the oxidation process, that is common to alls fats, and preserve the properties of essential olive oil too.

So, the fact that essential olive oil is with the capacity of resisting oxidation at higher temperatures superior to seed oils makes it the safest vegetable oil for frying.

Many in the non-Mediterranean industrialized countries feel uneasy when a Mediterranean recipe calls for frying in olive oil. Frying can be an old cooking technique that’s very popular in the Mediterranean cuisines. It is as much a fundamental element of the healthy traditional Mediterranean diet as consuming raw olive oil with bread and salads.

EB1 extraordinary ability Some olive oil tips for the kitchen

When heated up, olive oil expands in volume and food absorbs it less than other cooking oils. Therefore, you will need a smaller quantity of essential olive oil.

If it didn’t burn in your frying pan, you can reuse olive oil up to 3 x. Some say even five times, but I personally never use it more than twice.

Olive oil transmits flavors between foods, so never fry meat in olive oil you used to fry fish and vice versa. My grandmother always kept a jar for fish and something for meat close to the olive oil bottle. It’s the best way never to get flavors mixed up.

Finally, essential olive oil looks thicker than other vegetable oils, but that is only appearance as, contrary to public opinion, it does not have any more calories than sunflower oil, for example.

Olive oil for the health

In the 13th century Arnau de Vilanova, doctor of the Catalan royal family, already realized that a moderate intake of olive oil enhanced the vital functions of the body. In the 20th century, the late American doctor, Ancel Keys MD, documented that the essential olive oil based Mediterranean diet reduces the chance of cardiovascular disease.

We see that contemporary research has confirmed what the Mediterranean peoples knew and practiced intuitively all along.

Heart disease is the Achilles’ heel of modern societies living at a frantic pace. Since Dr. Keys and his followers realized that we in the Mediterranean have a better cardiovascular health, the first medical studies on essential olive oil focused mainly on that area.

They proved that olive oil balances the cholesterol levels, can decrease the risk of a heart attack, can are likely involved in the prevention of arteriosclerosis, and fights high blood pressure.

Later, research was extended to the areas like digestion, cancer, and diabetes. The results have been very positive and olive oil usually comes through with flying colors.

One particular study concluded that with only two tablespoons of virgin olive oil every day you can begin to experience medical benefits that the Mediterranean peoples have enjoyed for so long. Incorporating it naturally into your eating practices is simple.

How to integrate essential olive oil in your eating practices

The easiest way is to get into the habit of drizzling essential olive oil over slices of bread or toasts, eating it as a dressing for sandwiches instead of butter, and adding it to salads with some salt.

Wherever you go in the Mediterranean, Morocco, Provence, Tunisia, Italy, Greece, Catalonia, Andalusia, or Majorca, you’ll find people eating their own mix of bread and raw olive oil.

As a Catalan I eat pa amb tomaquet, literally bread with tomato, almost every day: within my breakfast, as a snack, or, I admit, when I’m too lazy to cook dinner. It is the Catalan bruschetta, so to say, and you could prepare it very quickly with slices of bread or toasts, both are fine.

Here is the most basic recipe for pa amb tomaquet. Cut a very ripe tomato crosswise, rub the bread with half on both sides, drizzle olive oil liberally on the bread and sprinkle some salt.

It is possible to eat it plain or add any topping and accompaniment you like: prosciutto-style or cooked ham, cheese, tuna fish, an omelet, anchovies, figs, olives. Even with a chocolate bar at coffee or tea time, it could sound weird, but it is delicious.

Other recipes with raw essential olive oil are authentic allioli, salads with olive oil dressing, cold sauces like romesco, and sopa de farigola or thyme soup. As the Catalan saying goes: Sopa sense oli no val un dimoni, literally, Soup without oil isn’t worth a devil, and therefore a soup without oil is junk.