olive oil for health
Olive oil is a natural juice which preserves the taste, aroma, vitamins and properties of the olive fruit and is the greatest exponent of mono-unsaturated fat. Of course olive oil has been a prime component of the Mediterranean diet and beauty regime for centuries, a region which has for many years boasted the lowest incidence of heart (and other) diseases.
The beneficial health effects of extra virgin olive oil are due to both its high content of mono-unsaturated fatty acids and its high content of antioxidants. Scientific studies report that olive oil offers protection against heart disease by controlling LDL “bad” cholesterol levels while raising HDL the “good” cholesterol levels. And no matter what peddlers of other oils claim, no other naturally produced oil has a greater amount of mono-unsaturated oleic acid as extra virgin olive oil.
Olive oil’s protective function has a beneficial effect on ulcers and gastritis and is therefore well tolerated by the stomach. It activates the secretion of bile and pancreatic hormones much more naturally than prescribed drugs, consequently, lowering the incidence of gallstone formation. And more recent studies support the benefits of extra virgin olive oil in the prevention of breast, prostate and bowel cancers.
Such compelling statistics surely point to extra virgin olive oil as being more than just a kitchen condiment – but an extraordinary ‘food-medicine’ which also happens to taste fantastic!
why extra virgin?
We pay a premium for quality ‘extra virgin olive oil’ because it takes a larger amount of fruit to produce a smaller amount of oil than it does for olive oils of lesser quality. However, the riper the fruit the greater the quantity of oil produced but the lower its quality is likely to be. So extra virgin olive oil is more likely to come from fruit which is less ripe. It is also important that the olive fruit is pressed with 24 hours of harvest (maximum) to be of the highest quality.
Extra virgin olive oil contains higher levels of antioxidants, particularly vitamin E and phenols, however all types of olive oil are sources of monounsaturated fat. Oil quality and flavour varies with harvest timing, olive cultivar, location, quality of fruit and methods of harvest. Colour is not an indicator of quality; however good oil is yellow to green in colour. As a basic rule, olive oils are graded on their chemistry with free fatty acid (FFA – the most significant), peroxide values and polyphenols all measured.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – has a FFA level of no more than 0.8%, and is judged to have a superior taste – the best you can buy
- Virgin Olive Oil – has a FFA level of 0.8% – 2%
- Olive Oil (sometimes labelled Pure Olive Oil)– has a FFA level of 2% – 3%
- Light & Extra Light Olive Oil – FFA level of >3%, often highly refined and/or blended with other vegetable oils (not lower in fat, only quality)
why buy Australian?
Because the Australian market is not regulated, European producers are able to use Australia as a dumping zone for inferior oils, ‘labelled’ extra virgin olive oil – they would not get away with this in their own countries. Therefore, always buy Australian; you may pay a few dollars extra but you will be getting what you pay for.
Please don’t display your extra virgin olive oil on the window sill – keep it in a cool, dark place, tightly sealed. Light and heat are the number one enemy of oil and oxygen promotes rancidity. Olive oil has a life of approximately two years from processing and you will notice our bottles are all stamped with the pressing date.
Most importantly…enjoy your extra virgin olive oil, knowing it is doing wonderful things for your health!