Olive oil is so integrated into our daily diet that we often forget to ask about its nutritional value. Very rarely do I hear a patient or client who comes to my office or from my online sessions asking me about the nutritional value of olive oil. But I think it's important to look at some things to clarify and dispel some myths about it. Olive oil is practically the juice that comes from olives, the fruit of it. The process is very simple, although it has evolved over the past two thousand years. It is basically produced like all juices by pressing and squeezing the fruit. Depending on processing and nutrient content, olive oil is divided into three main types. Refined olive oil, virgin olive oil and extra virgin olive oil. Of these three, you will only choose extra virgin olive oil, because it is the healthiest type, as it has undergone the least processing and contains the highest content of nutrients. At the same time, it is also the tastier olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil contains approximately 85% unsaturated oils, of which 73% are the very healthy monounsaturated ones, while it also contains 14% saturated oils. Extra virgin olive oil is particularly rich in vitamin E, vitamin K and other antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances which help the body to fight chronic diseases. Finally, olive oil is very rich in a substance called oleoeuropein which is known to prevent the oxidation of LDL, also known as "bad cholesterol". Here I remind you that the oxidation of bad cholesterol leads to the creation of atherosclerotic plaque. Non-oxidized LDL isn’t considered bad for the vessels. But why is olive oil considered so healthy? Most importantly, extra virgin olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, which appear to have the most positive effect on the health of the heart and blood vessels, thus protecting against two of the most common groups of diseases: heart disease and strokes. At the same time, extra virgin olive oil contains vitamin E and vitamin K which are necessary for its proper functioning organization. However, the most important effect on health seems to come from the abundance of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory components that olive oil has such as oleic acid, oleocanthal and oleasin. These and many other substances make extra virgin olive oil a real medicine for the heart that has no side effects. Heart diseases are very common and everything in our diet that can help prevent or deal with them must be present in our daily life. Extra virgin olive oil reduces the possibility of heart diseases by many mechanisms, such as by reducing inflammation, reducing the oxidation of LDL lipoprotein, protecting the endothelium of the vessels, reducing inappropriate thrombosis that can occur inside the vessels, reducing of blood pressure and other mechanisms we have not yet discovered. Although olive oil protects against the two most important groups of life-threatening diseases, it also appears to help a third group of diseases, cancer. It has been observed that in countries where olive oil consumption is high, cancer occurs less frequently. This may be due to the fact that olive oil is very rich in antioxidants that we know play a very important role in protecting against cancer. Finally, very important initial evidence shows that olive oil can even protect against Alzheimer's disease, the most important and common form of dementia. But after seeing the amazing benefits of extra virgin olive oil, I want to address a question regarding olive oil that I often hear in my practice or through my online sessions. Someone often asks me if they can cook with olive oil or is it better to put it at the end. Sure putting it at the end is better, but in reality the benefit is very small. Olive oil, unlike seed oils, is extremely resistant to temperatures up to 180 degrees Celsius. This means that its composition practically does not change until 180 degrees Celsius. But how do we know at what temperature the oil we are cooking is? The answer is simple. When oil is mixed with water, as is usually done when cooking in a pot or pan, the temperature does not exceed 100 degrees Celsius, at least until the water evaporates. That is, in a mixture where there is water and it is heated, the temperature will not exceed 100 degrees Celsius until the water evaporates. When the water evaporates, the temperature will gradually rise, we will hear the characteristic sound that we say is sizzling, which means that the water has evaporated and now the oil is also evaporating. At this point we have reached its boiling point of oil and now gradually but at a slow rate the olive oil begins to be destroyed. As we do not want this to happen, we use olive oil as often as possible in the pan and in the pot of water. The same applies to sauteing, because although we don't add water, during the process what we saute releases liquids which prevent the temperature from rising significantly. But what about the pan? Initially, the pan should be used as little as possible, or never at all. But if there is no other way, olive oil is still the best choice in case it is necessary to use some oil. Olive oil is resistant to temperatures that we fry at home as long as we fry for a relatively short time. For example, if we fry an egg, in no case will the olive oil we use suffer significant damage. Even potatoes if fried at home with a little oil, again the oil will be damaged very little. So, it must be the only solution for the few times we fry in oil at home. On the other hand, although olive oil is a good choice for frying in mass catering areas, unfortunately, when someone is frying at a high temperature that exceeds two hundred degrees Celsius, as happens in fast food restaurants, taverns and steakhouses, then the oil is rapidly destroyed. Perhaps in this case using saturated fats such as animal fat and coconut oil are the best options. Although the best option is not to eat anything that is fried outside the house at a high temperature. So extra virgin olive oil is the best and is the only one that should be used in all cooking methods. Thank you very much.

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