Olive oil is an edible oil extracted from olives, which are the fruits of the olive tree (Olea europaea). It is characterized by a high content of monounsaturated fats (the good ones to be clear). A product that originates from the Mediterranean agro-food tradition. The virgin type is obtained from the mechanical pressing of olives. European legislation (EEC Regulation No. 2568/91 and subsequent updates) has set minimum quality standards that olive oil must have in order to be marketed as “Extra Virgin Oil.” It must be obtained by extraction by mechanical methods only. The acidity of an extra virgin oil must never exceed 0.8%. In fact, acidity, that is the concentration of free fatty acids, is one of the fundamental parameters for evaluating oil quality. An Extra Virgin Olive Oil Identity Card has been created in Italy.
Extra virgin olive oil has become the main fatty food of the Mediterranean Diet, it is not just a condiment, it is in effect, a functional food, that is very rich in beneficial and protective properties for the body. From a nutritional point of view: 100 g of olive oil provides about 900 calories in the form of lipids. It is a source of: vitamin E (tocopherol), vitamin A, iron, polyphenols (such as hydroxytyrosol and oleuropein), molecules with antioxidant activity, which counteract the human body’s oxidative stress due to free radicals, which causes aging and disease. This basically causes olive oil to act as an anti-inflammatory and prevent cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis. In fact, scientific studies suggest that olive oil may help control cardiovascular risk by affecting blood lipid levels and LDL oxidation.
Contrary to popular belief, extra virgin olive oil is an excellent digestive aid. This means that it increases the secretion of digestive enzymes and the production of bile salts by the liver. Since cholesterol is eliminated by bile flow, eating oil every day is now scientifically proven to help lower cholesterol levels. It is also an excellent remedy for gastritis because it has great anti-inflammatory effect on the mucous membranes of the digestive system. It then acts on the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) and calcium.
Of course, we are talking only about oils of the highest quality, the result of accurate craftsmanship process, which preserve those compounds that have effects on various organs of our body.
Dimostrati anche da molti studi scientifici, tra cui uno recente, italiano, pubblicato su Gastroenterology, sostenuto da Fondazione Airc, sono gli effetti anticancro dell’extravergine, il consumo quotidiano di olio extravergine di oliva aiuta a prevenire e combattere i tumori intestinali dal momento che i suoi componenti, soprattutto l acido oleico, sono in grado di regolare e inibire la proliferazione cellulare. Sfruttando le proprietà benefiche dell’acido oleico, in futuro sarà possibile ridurre l’insorgenza del tumore soprattutto nei pazienti con infiammazione intestinale o già precedentemente affetti da questa malattia, e rallentarne la crescita e migliorare i trattamenti antitumorali già in uso, potenziandone l’effetto.
Aiuta, inoltre, a ridurre i picchi di glicemia dopo i pasti, riducendo la quantità di insulina prodotta dall’organismo, quindi aiuta a prevenire diabete e sindrome metabolica.
Stir-frying in hot oil, such as a pasta dish, reduces sugar absorption by 30 percent. If it is kept below the “smoke point” which is 180 degrees, it is ideal for all kinds of frying.
French fries fried in extra virgin oil absorb very little oil (only 5 percent, while baked potatoes absorb 45 percent) and are more digestible because they are dehydrated and therefore better absorbed by the gastric juices.
Olive oil is also famous for its cosmetic properties, anti-frizz on the hair, and emollient and anti-aging for the skin, thanks to vitamin E.
Extra virgin olive oil is therefore a staple food for all diets. For children, as early as weaning, baby food can be supplemented with small amounts of fat in the form of extra virgin olive oils, as it provides oleic acid, which is easily digested and well used to produce energy essential for development, which is also present in breast milk; for sportsmen because it is a readily digestible source of energy; and in old age as it limits calcium loss in the bones.
It has many beneficial and healing properties, but this statement does not apply to all oils on the market. In fact, many oils are the result of chemical processes and contain substances that are not exactly healthy: therefore, you must pay close attention to the products you buy by always checking the label and information about the origin of the olives and the place of production. In Italy, oils from central regions, such as Tuscany or Lazio, are very renowned not only for their excellent flavor but also for the naturalness and quality of the olives trees from which they come.
Lazio, especially the Canino area, presents a wide choice of all-natural monovarietal oils with all the beneficial and healthy properties expected of a quality oil. Recent research by La Sapienza University of Rome, on the beneficial effects of olive oil in the treatment of diabetes, indicated the oil produced in the hills of Tuscia Viterbese as the most effective for prevention and health care.
Interest in olive oil is growing steadily, as people get older, awareness of self-care and health care increases. Parents are increasingly looking for healthy foods to feed their children and for easy, quick, but tasty meals, so extra virgin olive oil turns out to be a ‘magical ingredient’ that brings everyone together, it is an “Alicament,” food and medicine, thanks to the presence of bioactive compounds with highly beneficial properties for the human organism.
Dr. Angela Zoccali