For thousands of years, olive oil has been considered to be an extremely healthy choice for light cooking and salad dressing. Although the product has its roots in the Mediterranean countries of Europe, Africa and Middle-East such as Spain, Italy, Greece, Morocco, Tunisia, and more, it is now used all around the world for its flavor, aroma and texture.
How to know which olive oil to choose?
There are several varieties of olive oil out in the market and each of them claim to be the best version one can find. However, when it comes to health benefits, extra virgin variety is by far the best choice. It is the best organic olive oil you can get your hands on. Unlike some of the other varieties, this one has absolutely no adulteration done to its components.
The fruits from which extra virgin olive oil is made are freshly hand-plucked, manually sorted and the oil is extracted by the traditional cold-press procedure instead of applying mechanical heat or chemicals to facilitate the process. Extra virgin olive oil is the result of the first production process after harvest, before anything else is done to the extract. Therefore it is untarnished, unrefined and absolutely natural.
You can identify authentic extra virgin olive oil by its distinct aroma, color and flavor. It comes with a special earthy, fruity and greenish smell, a lovely warm light yellowish-green shade, and a slightly piquant taste that feels bitter and peppery as it goes down your throat.
Calorie content of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The premium variety of the product known as extra virgin olive oil is not only preferred by home cooks to dress their Sunday brunch meals or drizzle over the occasional flatbread pizzas, but also used extensively by professional chefs in upscale restaurants and diners as well. But taste and smell aside, why exactly is this oil such a global phenomenon?
The answer is in its composition.
More than 70% of the constituting elements of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) is unsaturated fatty acid, more specifically a particular monounsaturated fat called oleic acid which has an immense nutritional value. Except unsaturated fat and a small portion of saturated fat, it contains no other form of food nutrient, especially something that can contribute towards excessive weight gain or increase cholesterol, such as carbohydrate or trans-fat. So all the calorie that olive oil has comes solely from its fat content.
Therefore, at only 120 calories per tablespoon or 14 grams of extra virgin olive oil, you satisfy half the amount of fat you require per day on a 200-calorie diet. Out of the 14 grams of fat, around 10 grams is monounsaturated fat and 1.8 grams is polyunsaturated fat. The remaining 2.2 grams are saturated fat, but their content compared to unsaturated fat is too low to cause any real harm to the body’s cardiovascular system.
Moreover, the fatty acids of EVOO and the other compounds present in the oil contribute largely towards the overall wellbeing of the body.
Health Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The unsaturated fats that we discussed till now contribute a lot towards lowering bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol. Moving on from the fats, EVOO also happens to have large amounts of polyphenols, which is a compound that comes with multiple health benefits. It fights the risks of heart strokes and other cardiovascular threats, as well as prevent cognitive degeneration disorders like dementia.
Other antioxidants present in the oil is known for having anti-inflammatory properties and abilities to halt the growth of C-reactive cells — in short, fight chances of cancer.
However, the quantity of nutrients is not the only way EVOO helps in keeping the human body healthy. Its benefits come in a multifaceted manner.
When a dish is cooked with EVOO, it provides the body with the good taste as well as the healthy fats, therefore reducing the cravings that lead to consumption of high-sugar and high-trans-fat such as fried food products, sugary items and drinks, and so on. Moreover, by eating dishes prepared with olive oil, you will be replacing the consumption of excess fat, carbs and sugar with something light and healthy.