Virgin and extra virgin olive oils

Olive Oil: Delightful and Beneficial

J.M. Towers

The oil obtained from the fruit of the legendary olive tree has accompanied mankind since the beginning of time. Its benefits explain why it should always be present on our table.

The endless uses of olive oil are not just limited to fine cuisine. History tells us that the “golden elixir” was used in the preparation of cosmetics and even medicine. Priests, shamans and medicine men extracted the oil to be sued in ointments and beverages to improve health and alleviate pain. Interestingly, the Babylonian word for physician was asu (oil connoisseur).

It should be noted that the only types of olive oil with medicinal properties are virgin or extra virgin olive oils, a fact many of us ignore. Other products labeled, only olive oil have no healing power whatsoever. Both virgin and extra virgin varieties are pure natural fruit juice, which preserves the fragrance, vitamins and healthful properties from the olives. It is the only vegetable oil can be consumed raw and unprocessed. In the case of the extra virgin, the finest and most priced, acidity cannot exceed 0.8 degrees.

aceite de oliva, aceite de oliva virgen, beneficios para la salud del aceite de oliva, aceite de oliva extra virgen

The calorific value of these products is 9 calories per gram (the same proportion as any animal or vegetable fat). Fats are essential nutrients for our bodies, and their function is, above all, to provide the energy that allows us to carry out our daily physical and intellectual activities. Fats truly make our meals more appetizing and have an indisputable biological value because tissues need lipids for their activity. Moreover, some vitamins (A, D, E, and K) are only soluble in fats, so they use lipids to be properly absorbed by the cells.

Lipids are divided into two main groups:

Saturated fatty acids, found in animal fats (cheese, meat, butter, cream) as well as coconut and palm oils.

Unsaturated fatty acids, present in vegetable oils and fish, are further divided into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

aceite de oliva, aceite de oliva virgen, beneficios para la salud del aceite de oliva, aceite de oliva extra virgen

Two of the fatty acids found in vegetable oils are fundamental for human health:

● Oleic acid (monounsaturated), which makes up 80 percent of all virgin olive oils and linoleic acid (polyunsaturated), also present in the virgin olive oil.

● Cholesterol is a fatty substance present in animals, which plays an important role in our vital functions. Many vital hormones are derived from cholesterol. Fats and cholesterol are combined with proteins into molecular groups called lipoproteins, which help them move through the bloodstream. Lipoproteins are further divided into two types: low-density (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol and high-density (HDL), known as “good cholesterol”.

● The “bad” cholesterol (LDL) adheres to the inner walls of the arteries and clogs them, a circumstance that becomes a contributing factor to atherosclerosis, a general cause of vascular disease.

Olive oil is considered the perfect type of fat for its high amount of oleic acid, which increases the “good” cholesterol (HDL), and helps with the removal of “bad” cholesterol via the liver. This reduces the risk of arterial thrombosis and infarction.

Overview of the beneficial effects of olive oil on the body:

Circulatory system: Helps prevent atherosclerosis and its risks.
Digestive system: Improves the functions of the stomach and pancreas.
Skin: Protects and tones the epidermis.
Endocrine system: Helps increase metabolic functions.
Skeletal system: Stimulates growth and helps to absorb calcium and other minerals.

As if all these were not enough, this golden elixir has an additional benefit: virgin olive oil contains vitamin E, which has an antioxidant effect on the cell membrane, recommended for children and seniors.

The ancient Mediterranean civilizations, from the Phoenicians and Egyptians to the Greeks and Romans knew and valued the qualities of olive oil. Today, there is scientific evidence, which confirms the medicinal properties of this “liquid gold”. With this guarantee, there is no reason not to have olive oil (always) on our table.  ■

© | 2019