Olive oil is extracted from the olive fruits and there are numerous olive groves in Portugal today in the regions of Norte Alentjano, the hills of the Moura region, the upper Douro and the Tras-os-Montes in the northern part of Portugal. The various climatic and geographical factors aid and facilitate its production in these regions. Since 1986, after Portugal became a member of the European Union, olive oil has begun to be exported to various parts of the world and according to recent figures, Portugal is ranked eighth in the world market.
Olive oil has manifold advantages and in fact it can be regarded as a product that has no negative side effects at all. There are various advantages of the olive oil produced upon extraction from the olive fruit and its functions are many. It is considered extremely healthybecause of the high proportion of polyphenols and monounsaturated fats like oleic acid which it contains. They have a variety of uses in cosmetics, soaps, as fuels for lighting oil lamps, cooking and medicinal purposes. Olive oils have great digestive properties which ensure swift digestion because of their low acidity levels. For beauty and skin care regimens, olive oil is an important ingredient as it helps to smoothen and soften dry scaly skin.
Since ancient times, olive oil has been used in various religious rituals amidst the Jews and Christians and it has even found mention in the holy Quran which is the Muslim Holy text. However, the most significant functions of the olive oil are in terms of medicinal uses. As a necessary requisite of the Mediterranean diet, it is very beneficial for curing various heart diseases. It is rich in natural antioxidants like Vitamin E which is also aids in reducing blood pressure and cholesterol. It is also at times used as a laxative.
Olive oil benefits are numerousHeres my list of
10 good reasons to use extra virgin olive oil.
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1. Its Natural! the best of olive oil benefits. Extra virgin olive oil is nothing but fruit juice extracted mechanically from olive fruit. There is no heat or chemicals used in the extraction process. My favourite and the most beneficial is a fresh organic unfiltered extra virgin olive oil. Follow this link for more information about olive oil grades.
2. Flavour It just tastes good. I guess I would have to say it is an acquired taste and some people just dont like the bitter characteristic of some oils. There are olive varieties known for their mild flavour and olive oil pressed from ripe olives is smooth, mellow and buttery.
substitute olive oil for butter
3. Nutritional Value vitamins E, K, and A as well as polyphenols, squalene, oleocanthol, triterpenes and hundreds more micronutrients make olive oil a healthy choice. Read more about olive oil nutrients.
4. Oleic Acid oleic acid (omega 9) makes up 55 85 percent of the fatty acids in olive oil. Dont confuse this with the amount of free oleic acid which is the main factor used to determine the grade of the olive oil and the lower the better. Its great for your skin read about common oils used in soaps and how they can do so much more than just clean your skin at romancing-the-soap.com Oleic acid aids in keeping our arteries supple and helps prevent cancer.
5. Hydrogenated Oils olive oil is not hydrogenated oil. Hydrogenation creates dangerous trans-fats found in margarine and many other packaged foods. Please read this page for more information about hydrogenated oil and trans-fats.
6. Heart Health and Cholesterol extra virgin olive oil is high in polyphenols (a powerful antioxidant) and monounsaturated fat which contributes to lowering bad cholesterol. Read more about this health benefit here.
7. Cancer researchers at the University of Oxford believe that olive oil may be just as effective in the prevention of colon cancer as fresh fruits and veggies. A diet rich in olive oil has been shown to reduce the incidence of colon., breast and skin cancers.
8. Blood Pressure Studies now indicate that extra virgin olive oil may help to lower blood pressure. Patients were able to reduce or eliminate the need for medications when olive oil was consumed on a regular basis.
9. Alzheimers this disease is associated with the clogging of arteries caused by cholesterol and saturated fat. Replacing other fats with olive oil will reduce the risk.
10. Gallstones Olive oil promotes the secretion of bile and pancreatic hormones naturally and lowers the incidence of gallstones.
There are more olive oil benefits. Its great for skin and hair care, used in natural remedies, and is a more versatile cooking oil than you may think.
Olive oils health benefits
The greatest exponent of monounsaturated fat is olive oil, and it is a prime component of the Mediterranean Diet. Olive oil is a natural juice which preserves the taste, aroma, vitamins and properties of the olive fruit. Olive oil is the only vegetable oil that can be consumed as it is freshly pressed from the fruit.
The beneficial health effects of olive oil are due to both its high content of monounsaturated fatty acids and its high content of antioxidative substances. Studies have shown that olive oil offers protection against heart disease by controlling LDL (bad) cholesterol levels while raising HDL (the good cholesterol) levels. (1-3) No other naturally produced oil has as large an amount of monounsaturated as olive oil -mainly oleic acid.
Olive oil is very well tolerated by the stomach. In fact, olive oils protective function has a beneficial effect on ulcers and gastritis. Olive oil activates the secretion of bile and pancreatic hormones much more naturally than prescribed drugs. Consequently, it lowers the incidence of gallstone formation.
Olive oil and heart disease
Studies have shown that people who consumed 25 milliliters (mL) about 2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil daily for 1 week showed less oxidation of LDL cholesterol and higher levels of antioxidant compounds, particularly phenols, in the blood.(4)
But while all types of olive oil are sources of monounsaturated fat, EXTRA VIRGIN olive oil, from the first pressing of the olives, contains higher levels of antioxidants, particularly vitamin E and phenols, because it is less processed.
Olive oil is clearly one of the good oils, one of the healing fats. Most people do quite well with it since it does not upset the critical omega 6 to omega 3 ratio and most of the fatty acids in olive oil are actually an omega-9 oil which is monounsaturated.
Olive oil and colon cancer
Spanish researchers suggest that including olive oil in your diet may also offer benefits in terms of colon cancer prevention (5). Their study results showed that rats fed diet supplemented with olive oil had a lower risk of colon cancer than those fed safflower oil-supplemented diets. In fact, the rats that received olive oil had colon cancer rates almost as low as those fed fish oil, which several studies have already linked to a reduction in colon cancer risk.
Types of olive oil
Generally, olive oil is extracted by pressing or crushing olives. Olive oil comes in different varieties, depending on the amount of processing involved. Varieties include:
Extra virgin considered the best, least processed, comprising the oil from the first pressing of the olives.
Virgin from the second pressing.
Pure undergoes some processing, such as filtering and refining.
Extra light undergoes considerable processing and only retains a very mild olive flavour.
When buying olive oil you will want to obtain a high quality EXTRA VIRGIN oil. The oil that comes from the first pressing of the olive, is extracted without using heat (a cold press) or chemicals, and has no off flavors is awarded extra virgin status. The less the olive oil is handled, the closer to its natural state, the better the oil. If the olive oil meets all the criteria, it can be designated as extra virgin.
What is pure and light olive oil? Pure olive oil is made by adding a little extra virgin olive oil to refined olive oil. It is a lesser grade oil that is also labeled as just olive oil in the U.S.
Light olive oil is a marketing concept and not a classification of olive oil grades. It is completely unregulated by any certification organizations and therefore has no real precedent to what its content should be. Sometimes, the olive oil is cut with other vegetable oils.
How to care for your olive oil
Resist the temptation to place your beautiful bottle of olive oil on the windowsill. Light and heat are the #1 enemy of oil. Keep olive oil in a cool and dark place, tightly sealed. Oxygen promotes rancidity. Olive oil is like other oils and can easily go rancid when exposed to air, light or high temperatures.
You can of course buy extra virgin olive oil in any grocery store.