Extra virgin olive oil has become such a symbol of healthy eating that it is hard to believe that it was once accused of increasing the harmful cholesterol. It was a fat, so it had to be bad for us. Fortunately, we left those times behind and now olive oil and most fats are much better understood.
The main reason olive oil is healthy is because it is rich in healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. About 75% of that monounsaturated fat is oleic acid, which is very stable even at high temperatures. Moreover, our body processes oleic acid easier than other fatty acids.
Secondly, organic extra virgin olive oil also balsamic vinegar of modena contains high levels of antioxidants like phenols, and vitamins E and A, which fight free radicals and thus prevent premature aging. Those antioxidants help neutralize the oxidation process, which is common to alls fats, and preserve the properties of olive oil too.
So, the fact that olive oil is capable of resisting oxidation at higher temperatures much better than seed oils makes it the safest vegetable oil for frying.
Many in the non-Mediterranean industrialized countries feel uneasy when a Mediterranean recipe calls for frying in olive oil. Frying is an old cooking technique that is very popular in the Mediterranean cuisines. It is as much an integral part of the healthy traditional Mediterranean diet as consuming raw olive oil with bread and salads.
Some olive oil tips for the kitchen
When heated up, olive oil expands in volume and food absorbs it less than other cooking oils. Therefore, you need a smaller quantity of olive oil.
If it didn’t burn in your frying pan, you can reuse olive oil up to three times. Some say even five times, but I personally never use it more than twice.
Olive oil transmits flavors between foods, so never fry meat in olive oil you used to fry fish and vice versa. My grandmother always kept a jar for fish and one for meat next to the olive oil bottle. It is the best way not to get flavors mixed up.
Finally, olive oil looks thicker than other vegetable oils, but this is only appearance as, contrary to popular belief, it has no more calories than sunflower oil, for instance.
Olive oil for your health
In the 13th century Arnau de Vilanova, doctor of the Catalan royal family, already realized that a moderate intake of olive oil enhanced the vital functions of the body. In the 20th century, the late American doctor, Ancel Keys MD, documented that the olive oil based Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.
We see that contemporary research has confirmed what the Mediterranean peoples knew and practiced intuitively all along.
Heart disease is the Achilles’ heel of modern societies living at a frantic pace. Since Dr. Keys and his followers realized that we in the Mediterranean have a better cardiovascular health, the first medical studies on olive oil focused mainly on that area.
They proved that olive oil balances the cholesterol levels, can reduce the risk of a heart attack, can play a role in the prevention of arteriosclerosis, and fights high blood pressure.