The magic of olive oil

Flavor and tradition come together in this authentic liquid gold that is revered today for its health benefits. Discover the best kept secrets of olive oil.

Heart-friendly fats

Olive oil is the vegetable oil richest in monounsaturated fatty acids (70%), mainly oleic acid. Following at a great distance are peanut oils (48%) and corn oils (33%), with a greater presence of saturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Diets high in monounsaturated fatty acids produce a more favorable metabolic profile, with greater reductions in total cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as an increase in high-density lipoproteins (HDL, the so-called "good" cholesterol) and a decrease in those of low density (LDL, the "bad"), all associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease.

On the other hand, the polyunsaturated fats in olive oil (10,5%) have linoleic and linolenic acids in proportions that are healthier for the body than many other vegetable oils.

digestive ally

On the gastrointestinal tract, olive oil provides different benefits. In the stomach it is the best tolerated fat since it does not promote esophageal reflux. It protects the stomach mucosa by reducing the secretion of gastric juice and promoting healing, thereby reducing the size of ulcers. Prevents constipation, enhances the detoxifying properties of the liver and helps the production and release of bile.

Antioxidant power

Virgin olive oil contains compounds with antioxidant functions: polyphenols and vitamin E. These polyphenols, among which are oleuropein, are easily digested and absorbed, which allows them to have a protective effect against oxidative stress and damage caused by free radicals.

Healthy bones and skin

Olive oil applied to the skin acts as an emollient thanks to its essential fatty acids, and as a protector from solar radiation due to its vitamin E content. In the bone system it improves mineralization, since oleuropein, in addition to preventing stress oxidative, helps prevent bone loss.

Tastiest recipes

Oil is both food and complement, art and part of numerous recipes. The same goes for a cold or hot dish, sweet or salty or light or strong. An excess of oil can make a recipe less digestible, but in the right amount it is exquisite and healthy.

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Choose an olive oil

The label: The olive oil label should provide important information, such as the type of oil, country of origin, packaging date, and expiration date. The healthiest type of oil is extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). EVOO is made from fresh olives and has not been processed with heat or chemicals. It has an intense flavor and a high antioxidant content.

The color: The color of olive oil is not an indicator of its quality. Extra virgin olive oil can be green, yellow or golden in color.

The smell: Extra virgin olive oil should have an intense smell of fresh olives. If the oil smells rancid or plastic, it is not of good quality.

Flavor: Extra virgin olive oil should have an intense and complex flavor, with notes of olives, herbs and nuts. If the oil tastes bland or bitter, it is not of good quality.

The price: Extra virgin olive oil is usually more expensive than other types. However, it is worth investing in a good oil, since it is a healthy product with a delicious flavor.

Here are some additional tips for choosing a good olive oil:

  • Choose an oil bottled in dark glass. The dark glass protects the oil from light, which can damage it.
  • Avoid oils that have been stored in glass or in the sun. Light and heat can damage the oil.
  • Choose an oil from a trusted brand. Trusted brands usually offer good quality olive oils.

If you have the chance, try different types of olive oil to find the one you like best. Olive oil is a versatile product that can be used in a variety of dishes.

In addition to virgin or extra virgin whenever possible, it is advisable to choose:

For salads and cold sauces, the sweetest and softest oils, with almond nuances and little astringency.

For stir-fries, stews, pickles and fish sauces, the best are the aromatic ones with a lot of olive flavor.

Ibán Yarza (history and health) and Montse Tàpia TÀPIA (cooking)