Olives are one of the Mediterranean basin’s staple crops. They are grown on the olive tree and supply countless benefits to the Mediterranean people as well as the world over. The olive industry has been the region’s most dependable food and cash crop for thousands of years. But what is mountain town olive oil? The oil which is made from these olives, usually by a press, is the most sought-after product in which the olive tree can supply. It has obviously been used for food for centuries, but olive oil is also frequently used in cosmetics and skin care, medicines, and fuels.
So what is Extra Virgin Olive Oil (XVOO)? All this means is that this oil is very low in acidity (less than 1%), is directly from the initial press of the olives, and is some of the freshest and sweetest oil around. This type of oil is almost exclusive to the Mediterranean Basin due to the fertility of the land and excellent produce harvested in this region. Greece is the world’s foremost exporter of quality oil because it is also the world’s largest Extra Virgin Olive Oil producer. XVOO is what is commonly (and should be) used for direct consumption, on salads, for dipping, etc. There are certainly lower grades of olive oil, but I like to stick to the good stuff for a fuller flavor in my foods.
There are many health benefits of XVOO, this is for sure, and has been proven through science over the last few years. The oil made from Mediterranean olives is known as “The ultimate fat,” and contains monosaturated fats, anti-inflammatory agents and a wide variety of valuable antioxidants that are not found in other oils, Omega-3 fatty acids, and can help decrease the risk of coronary heart disease. There has been much research on the effects of olive oil and its abilities to increase levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, and decrease levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, which has a positive effect on ones heart health. We are just beginning to understand the benefits of olive oil consumption, and I expect scientists to lengthen the list of positive health effects regular consumption of this super food has on a person in the coming years.
Many people in my cooking classes ask me how to use olive oil. Usually, I ask them to specify, but they want to know exactly that; how to use olive oil. There are many ways to use this very diverse food, especially in place of other fats like butter or ghee. You can make simple salad dressings with olive oil by adding different herbs and spices and experimenting that way until you find a flavor you love (try adding balsamic vinegar as well as the herbs and spices). You can use it on pasta, bread, and meats in place of butter for a much healthier overall meal.
Get to the store and purchase some good, high-quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil for your cooking and begin your transformation into a heart-healthy conscious eater. It is one easy way to move in a healthier direction for you and your family!