There is a reason why olive has historically been chosen as a preferred source of edible oil over and above other fruits and vegetables. Dating back to the medieval times, the economic prosperity of several countries along the shores of Mediterranean was heavily dependent on the cultivation of olive and manufacturing of olive oil. These nations, such as Spain, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco, and so on, are still successfully trading in exquisite qualities of olive oil. The worldwide demand of the product is justified by not only the flavor and texture it adds, but also by its nutritional value.
Among all the varieties, extra virgin olive oil is undoubtedly the best. It is made from fresh, handpicked olives from organic orchards and the oil is extracted via natural cold-press without application of any processing chemicals or mechanical heat to change its composition. Therefore, it is the premium quality that is sought after by everyone for both taste and health benefits.
EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) is characterized by a slightly earthy, fruity aroma and a piquant, peppery taste. Both smell and flavor of EVOO can vary depending on the geographical location where the olives were cultivated, the soil and climatic conditions of the place, and the time of harvest. However, one thing that does not change is the nutritional value of the product.
Nutritional Breakdown of EVOO
In this article, we will further discuss in details with facts and figures the exact quantities of nutrients that extra virgin olive oil has. Let us consider one tablespoon or 14 grams as a basic standard. The nutritional constituents in one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil are:
· Calories — 120
· Total Fat — 14 grams
a) Saturated Fat — 2.2 grams
b) Monounsaturated Fat — 10 grams
c) Polyunsaturated Fat — 1.8 grams
· Carbohydrate — 0 grams
· Sodium-Potassium — 0 grams
· Protein — 0 grams
There is a common misconception in the dietary discussion that all fats are harmful for the body. But that is not at all true. There are some good fats which are an essential part of healthy and balanced diet and help in improvement of cell growth and creation and secretion of certain hormones. These are the unsaturated fats (both mono and poly) which are present in ample quantities in EVOO. A certain monounsaturated fat in particular, called oleic acid is a healthy omega-9 fatty acid which contributes towards lowering cholesterol levels in the blood.
Moreover, the product contains several other compounds and antioxidants, each of which come with their own health benefits. One such called oleocanthal is quite popular for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Health benefits of EVOO
EVOO is certainly the one with most health benefits within the olive oil family. It is known to have a good many number of staggering health benefits. Here are some of them.
· The oleic acid content and other healthy fatty acids present in EVOO are known for having not only lowering blood cholesterol levels and therefore risks of heart attacks, they are useful in preventing the early onset of dementia and other neurodegenerative disorders as well.
· EVOO is rich in antioxidants which fight free radicals and prevent or at least delay cell damage. From keeping the skin young, supple and wrinkle-free to preventing chances of cancer, the antioxidants in EVOO do a lot for the human body.
· It relieves inflammation from different diseases such as metabolic syndromes, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, joint pains and other chronic disorders. In fact, several studies have proven the anti-inflammatory properties of EVOO to be as good as similar targeted drugs like ibuprofen.
· EVOO has been known to have antibacterial properties as well. It has many compounds that bind the growth of harmful virus and bacteria in the body’s organs, such as the stomach bug Helicobacter pylori which can cause ulcer and other critical gastrointestinal problems.
EVOO is undoubtedly the prime selection when it comes to selecting an oil for light cooking and salad dressing. However, there are further subcategories in the world’s produce of EVOO, each of which vary in nutritional value. Turkish olive oil has been quoted by experts around the globe to be the best possible choice of EVOO, preferred extensively by expert chefs and home cooks alike.