Olive Oil

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You probably have heard that olive oil is good for you, and know how delicious it is in a salad dressing. Bondi Beauty takes a closer look at this amazing Mediterranean diet staple.

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By Nutrition Expert Lolita Walters

 What is olive oil and how is it made?

 Olive oil refers to the fat that is extracted from the fruit of the olive tree. The olive tree is native to the Mediterranean basin, and the peoples of the area have been making the oil for thousands of years. Whole olives are usually pressed in order to produce olive oil, forcing the fatty liquid out of the flesh of the olive.

 Is it good for the body? Why?

 Leading by example, the health of Mediterranean cultures has sparked much interest in the benefits of consuming olive oil. Many studies have confirmed that olive oil is extremely good for the body, largely due to it being a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids and its high antioxidant levels of polyphenols.

Maria-Isabel Covas’ review of studies of the effects of olive oil found that regular consumers had lower levels of bad cholesterol and were less likely to develop cardiovascular diseases. It is also shown to be anti-inflammatory and anticoagulant and to help reduce cancer risk and tumor cell activity.

Olive oil is also good for mental health. Studies have suggested that it may be useful for those with depression and in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. A study over 6 years showed that those consuming trans fats had a 48% higher risk of developing depression compared to those consuming olive oil regularly. A natural compound present in extra virgin olive oil, called oleocanthal, is thought to help with Alzheimer’s disease by helping carry abnormal proteins from the brain, according to the work of researchers published in the journal of Chemical Neuroscience.

 How much should we consume? What about when we heat it?

 According the EurOlive Study concluded in 2004, it is suggested that we need to consume about 2 tablespoons of high quality olive oil a day to reap the benefits.

This doesn’t just have to be in salad dressings either. Olive oil can also be used for cooking, without sacrificing its healthful properties, but only at moderate heat levels. Since it has a low smoke point, the beneficial nutritional components will be damaged if you are cooking at high temperatures. If you do want to sizzle it up in the kitchen, it’s best to use an alternative with a higher smoke point. A great alternative for this is coconut oil!

What should I look for when choosing my product?

 “Opt for cold pressed extra virgin olive oil,” says registered dietician Mary Snell. This comes from the first extraction, is the most unrefined form and no chemicals are used in the extraction process. The end product has the best flavour and the highest levels of antioxidants. Your next best choice is virgin olive oil, which comes from the second press and is still chemical free.

 Are there other beneficial uses for olive oil other than consuming it?

 Olive oil also happens to be one of Mother Nature’s beauty products! It makes a beautiful remedy for dry skin or hair. Simply massage into the skin as a moisturiser, or put in your hair and leave for 30 minutes (can do this while exercising!) then wash, for frizz-free shiny locks. Olive oil has also been reported to help with irritated skin, under eye wrinkles and chapped lips.

 Six Things You May Not Know About Olive Oil

  1. Experts agree that the greater the levels of antioxidants, the better tasting the olive oil will be.
  2. Greece has the highest level of olive oil consumption per person in the world, with the average person consuming 24 litres a year.
  3. Storing your olive oil in a cool dark place will help maintain the antioxidant levels.
  4. In Ancient Rome women used olive oil on their pregnant bellies to help with stretch marks, and many women still swear by it for this use today.
  5. The polyphenols and vitamin E content in olive oil will give your baked goods a longer shelf life, so swap out the butter or margarine for this heart healthy option.
  6. Olive oil is naturally sodium, cholesterol, gluten and carbohydrate free.

Lolita Walters, Nutrition Expert www.thehealthchick.com.au

Tell us why you love olive oil?

 

 

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Lolita Walters

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