Benefits of Olive Oil

Health benefits of Olive oil can be attributed to its chemical composition i.e. rich in monounsaturated fats i.e. oleic acid and antioxidants such as vitamin E and carotenoids. Higher proportion of monounsaturated fats is linked to lowering of risk of heart disease as it controls the “bad” levels of LDL cholesterol and raises levels of the “good” cholesterol, HDL whereas antioxidants found in Olive oil are known to have a protective effect against certain malignant tumours in the breast, prostate and digestive tract. It is also known to lower blood sugar levels and blood pressure.

Types of Olive Oil
Olive oil comes in various forms – some of this is just plain marketing but some has real significance as it helps to distinguish the flavor, taste, freshness and medicinal properties of the oil. Grading of olive oil is done on the basis of extraction process followed and acidity content. Virgin Olive oil is extracted from olives using only pressure, a process known as cold pressing. Extra Virgin Olive Oil has just 1% acid whereas Virgin olive oil has about 3% acid. On the other hand light oil is the one which is filtered to remove much of the sediment. With each grade there is change in taste and also suitability / usage of oil.
Olive oil has its benefits but at the same time it is not suitable for Indian style of cooking. Extra virgin olive oil can be used for cold dishes and salads only. That’s because extra virgin olive oil has a low smoke point . Whereas Virgin Olive oil can be used for low temperature cooking. Pomace oil is like the refined oil used for frying and high temperature cooking in all types of Indian cuisines.

We must choose our fats/oils carefully. Sedentary adult males should not consume more than 25 gms of visible fat daily. All fats in foods provide three types of fatty acids. Based on the chemical nature of fatty acids they are broadly grouped as saturated, mono-saturated and poly-saturated. Fats from coconut oil, vanaspati, animal fats (ghee or butter) provide saturated fatty acids. High intake of saturated fatty acids increase atherogenic risks and their intake should be limited in adults. Oils from sources like groundnut, palm, sesame and olive are rich in mono-saturated fatty acids as compared to others.

We need remember that oil is oil at the end of the day. Every gram of fat/ oil provides 9 kcal. Hence it would be wise not to start filling your dishes with Olive oil.