Olive oil is originated from the Mediterranean, commonly used in beauty products, cooking, and alternative medicine. This famous oil has been part and parcel of lifestyle during ancient times since 3500 BC. Over billion olive trees are cultivated all over the world.
Greece is considered one of the largest per capita for highest consumption of olive oil. To date, there were reports that they can consume 26 liters per person each year. Spain and Italy is the second on the list for about 14 liters per person each year, and Syria and Lebanon for around 8 liters per person each year.
Many people are unaware of the classification of olive oil, health benefits and the several ways to use this wonderful oil. With this regard, this article will attempt to bring all these features to the attention of our readers.
Olive Oil Classification
Olive oil will be graded based on its flavor, aroma, color, and its acidity which are the most essential elements in determining the health benefits it can provide. The importance of how it is produced and the chemistry are also another factor in grading the olive oil. The International Olive Oil Council is organized as an intergovernmental organization with 23 member states around the world to promote olive oil and define the quality standards. It is based in Madrid, and there are more than 85% of olive trees whic are grown in IOOC member nations.
Extra virgin olive oil
Considered the fruitiest and finest olive oil, and more expensive than to its other counterpart. The color is ranging from champagne green, greenish gold to bright green. It is said that the more intense the color, the more intense the flavor and the quality. The process from hand-picking, to cleaning, to cold pressing makes it high grade. There is no mechanical means involve in the process and do not alter its biological and natural nutritional properties. Another important feature is the level of acidity which has no more than .8% and with a superior taste. The Greek extra virgin coconut oil is the most sought after olive oil and graded premium with its premium quality. The superiority of olive oil can be attributed to the climate and the type of soil. Commonly used in salads, soups, stews, and dippings.
Virgin olive oil
Comes with the natural process without any refining and has an acidity of less than 2% with no chemical treatment. The good taste varies in the intensity of flavor but it is milder than the extra virgin coconut oil.
The acidity level is no more than 1.5% and obtained by blending extra virgin coconut oil and refined oil. When it comes to taste and color, it is much lighter compared to its olive oil counterpart. Mostly used for cooking, frying, and flavoring. The substance of refined oil makes this a very low quality in grade.
Pure olive oil
With the same acidity level of olive oil with no more than 1.5% and with blend of pomace, refined production oil, and small amount of extra virgin olive oil. And again, since there is a blend of production oil, the grade is very low quality.
Refined olive oil
Olive oil has been chemically treated in order to neutralize the strong tastes and acid content. Any virgin olive oil which of extracted by cold pressing and does not conform to International Oleic Council standard is considered lower quality.
Olive Pomace oil
The oil is extracted from the pomace by crushing the fruit, pressing the paste and blended with virgin oil. The flavor is more neutral than virgin olive oil. There are claims that it should not be eaten since it is enhanced by petroleum to take off the smell. A type of low grade that has to be refined before it can be consumed by human. Not widely available in the market and mostly used for only commercial purposes.
Lampante olive oil
The acidity level is no more than 3.3% and only sold in Spain. Since of high acidity level, please take note that it is not suitable as food but only in industrial market. The oil is still needed to undergo a refining process to rectify the defects and before it can be consumed by human.
Light and Extra Light Olive Oil
Do not be misled with the term light and think of it as less in calories than any other olive oil. Light and extra light term is used because of its pale color and minimal flavor. The process involves heavily heating and a series of filtering. Some light olive oil is blended with other types of oil like canola and vegetable oil. It does not follow the strict regulations in processing. It is not recommended for cooking dishes but since it can be subjected to high heat, some are using it for baking goods like bread.
Benefits of Olive Oil
There are islands of information claiming how olive oil can give more benefits than you can imagine. Here are some of the conclusive reports and studies conducted about olive oil.
Lowers Cholesterol and Blood Pressure
Olive oil can reduce the risk of heart disease and can lower bad cholesterol that can attribute to buildup of fatty acids that may clog the arteries. On the other hand, the March 2000 issue of Internal Medicine reports showed that those people who are suffering from high blood pressure can reduce the amount of medication and take the extra-virgin coconut oil as replacement. In clinical study, the daily consumption of olive oil of about 4 tablespoon per day can reduce the dosage of medication of about 50% or more.
Rich in Antioxidant
Olive oil is rich in Vitamin E with natural antioxidant to slow down aging process. Most beauty products are now blended with olive oil because it is proven to be effective to maintain good skin condition. A research conducted by Japanese scientists claimed that virgin olive oil can be applied to the skin after sunbathing to protect against skin cancer because it can slow down the possible tumor growth.
Prevents Colon Cancer
A scientific research was conducted in University of Oxford about the benefits of olive oil by keeping colon cancer at bay. It has a protective effect on the development of colon cancer by influencing the metabolism of the gut. It has the ability to cut the substance called deoxycyclic acid that is linked to cell division in bowel movement. Olive oil can also reduce the bile acid and increased the essential enzyme that our body needed.
Alternative Uses of Olive Oil
- Do not underestimate olive oil because you will not waste a single bottle for its many uses. Aside from its relation to cooking, there are several ways to utilize this natural oil. It is environmental friendly and more cost-effective, not to mention that it is much safer than any other chemical products.
- For polish purposes. Just add citrus juice to olive oil and wipe a teaspoon of the mixed oil and citrus to wood furniture. Another use is for shoe polish, copper, and brass. Old leather can be as new as it used to be by rubbing olive oil on the leather.
- It can also be a natural alternative for shaving cream. It is safer to use a teaspoon of olive oil to face or body once finished shaving than applying commercialized shaving cream.
- Best for moisturizing. Mix the water and olive oil then soak your hands and feet before the manicure and pedicure session. Moreover, see the difference on your skin once you have applied olive oil and scrub with course salt, or sugar. Rinse your body. You can instantly feel the softness of your skin made by olive oil.
- If you are having a hard time to clean-up the sticky substances on your measuring cups and spoons, olive oil is the best alternative to any kind of liquid soap. Just rub or spray on your utensils with messy sugar syrups, honey, etc.
- Also, olive oil is best used to polish any of your stainless steel and brass because it can prevent tarnish, corrosion, and streaks.
- Use olive oil as natural make-up remover with damp cloth. If your skin gets messy with paint, olive oil can apply to affected skin and let it stay for five minutes before rinsing with water and soap.
- Do not worry to control your frizzy hair because a bit of olive oil can tame your flyaway and frizz hair during humid season. Olive oil is also one of the best natural alternatives for conditioner.
- If your zipper is stuck and you are hopeless to unjam it, olive oil is to the rescue because it has the ability to free a stuck zipper by rubbing a cotton swab with olive oil to the teeth of the zipper. Not only that, if you are irritated with your squeaky door, applied the olive oil using cotton swab at the top of your door to get rid of the noise.
- Believe it or not, some people who are snoring when sleeping are consuming olive oil before they go to sleep. This may lubricate the throat muscle and they stop from snoring. Why not try, and see for yourself.
- Those cat lovers are adding a teaspoon of olive oil to their cat’s food to give their cat a shiny coat of their fur.
- There are lip balms available in natural cosmetic shop made in melted beeswax and olive oil as moisturizer to dry and chapped lips.
- For babies, a gently wipe with olive oil applied to baby’s sensitive bottom can prevent diaper rash and irritation.
Precaution: Although olive oil is great for cooking, since this is highly monounsaturated oil, it is resistant to oxidation and hydrogenation. Overheating olive oil, especially the extra virgin olive oil, can destroy the phenol components, according to many clinical studies. Phenol is significant in protecting the heart which is anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant that prevents blood clotting. Extra virgin olive oil is rich in phenol, according to American College of Cardiology. Therefore, the benefits of olive oil against cardiovascular diseases can lessen due to overheating. In order to enjoy the nutritional value of olive oil, the 200-250 Fahrenheit is the safest range without damage.
NOTE: Consumers must be aware on the correct label of olive oil that they will purchase in the market. There were almost 700 people died in Spain during 1981 as a consequence of consuming adulterated olive oil with rapeseed and aniline intended for industrial lubricant. Know the grade of olive oil and purchase the high premium even the price is much expensive, go for the quality because you are rest assured that the olive oil with high grade is produced in natural means and no chemical treatment.?