Olive Oil is fast becoming the world's favourite oil. This wonderful secret of many Mediterranean recipes is now out in the open for the entire globe to enjoy. Olive oil is the fat which is obtained from crushing olives, a fruit that is primarily grown and cultivated in the Mediterranean region. Health and culinary circuits cant stop raving about the benefits of this wonder oil. Feel like having a light and healthy meal or just sprucing up your salad with some flavor? Olive oil with its distinct pungent flavor can add charm to so many of your boring dishes. The Indian taste bud is also slowly embracing the western wonder, not just for its distinct flavor but also for the numerous health benefits that it holds. It packs a healthy punch not only when consumed, olive oil also packs a bevy of skin, hair and beauty benefits too. Here's a roundup of all that you ever wanted to know about Olive Oil.
What Are The Kinds of Olive Oil?
While the world can't stop going gaga over the goodness of olive oil it is important to understand that there are many grades of olive oil. And each grade comes with its own share of pros and cons different from the other variants. The highest grade of olive oil is the extra virgin olive oil, followed by virgin oil, and finally refined oil. These grades are defined by their ways of extraction.
Extra virgin and the standard virgin olive oil, is extracted directly from the olive fruit by grinding the olives, which preserves the natural taste, flavor, pungency and maximum amount of benefits. This method of extracting the oil directly from the fruit is called 'cold-pressing'. This helps the oil retain its flavor which may lose when the oil is exposed to high temperatures. The oil that are further processed and undergoes blending of chemical solvents, loses the original high grade quality of the extra virgin oil, and are clubbed in the refined variants of olive oil.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil:Extra virgin olive oil is obtained by crushing or cold-pressing olives and extracting the fresh juice. It is unrefined and the highest-quality olive oil you can buy. Because of the way extra-virgin olive oil is made, it retains the true flavour of olives, and has a lower level of oleic acid than the other varieties. It has a higher concentration of natural vitamins and minerals found in olives.According to Consultant Nutritionist, Dr. Rupali Dutta, "Extra Virgin Oil has been subjected to zero processing, and has no additives which makes it bright green in colour and has a strong olive flavor. It also contains only 1% of Oleic Acid and is able to retain all its antioxidants. Regular olive oil, on the other hand, is commercially produced and processed just like any other oil. It contains at least 3-4% of Oleic Acid."
- Standard Virgin oil: Virgin olive oil comes from standard virgin oil production, or cold pressing only, it has an acidity less than 2%, and is known to have a 'good' taste, as compared to the Extra Virgin Variety. It cannot contain any refined oil. Virgin olive oil is good for cooking
- Pure or blended olive oil: It may be called 'pure', but they are mostly a blend of refined olive oil and virgin production oil.
- Refined Oil: When virgin oils are sent to the processing plant, they undergo chemical processing, which makes them the "refined olive oils." Here they undergo processing that include heat, chemicals, or filtration. These refined olive have an acidity level of 0.3 percent or less, which also tends to give them a longer shelf life
- Pomace oil: There is another variant of olive oil available in the market called the olive pomace oil. Once the typical, mechanized extraction of olive oil from the olive fruit is done with, about 5 to 8 percent of the oil still remains in the leftover olive pulp or the "pomace." This oil is called the pomace oil, and is used deemed good for cooking.
Although the pomace oil that is extracted is still technically oil that comes from olives, it is still not slotted with the virgin oil variety in terms of goodness, as many times the extraction from the pomace may use chemical solvents.(Also Read:6 Unexpected Extra Virgin Olive Oil Benefits for Weight Loss, Healthy Heart & More)
Benefits of olive oil: Extra virgin and the standard virgin olive oil
Olive Oil Health Benefits
Olive Oil is packed with several health benefits, Bangalore based Nutritionist Dr. Anju Sood says " It is good for your heart, hair, skin and veins, if you massage it on blood clots, the clots would heal soon."Macrobiotic nutritionist and Health Practitioner Shilpa Arora ND says, "Olive oil is loaded with heart-protective polephenols that lower cholesterol. It is also packed with anti-inflammatory properties. The mono-saturated fatty acids boosts metabolism and aids weight loss."Dr. Simran Saini of Fortis Hospital also recommends the oil for its heart healthy properties, "Olive oil is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids- which improves good cholesterol(HDL). It is also good for digestion, and keeps your hormones balanced."
Here is what makes Olive oil a healthier bet than other refined oil found in the market.
1. Source of Monosaturated fatty acids: Looking to shed some extra pounds? Switch to a diet that has least intake of trans fats. Olive oil is profuse with monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), a healthy fat that helps battle heart disease, cholesterol,and even blood sugar. Experts suggest that it is higher in MUFAs than sesame, coconut, rapeseed, sunflower and corn oil!
2. Source of Good Cholesterol : Olive oil promotes the flow High-density lipoproteins or HDL which is called the good cholesterol, which scavenges the blood stream of plaque and toxin formation.
Olive oil benefits: Olive OiI is has been linked to raising good cholesterol
3. Good for hearth Health: Diets with high in MUFAs are linked to a healthy heart and fewer strokes. Olive oil's ability to limit LDL or bad cholesterol further bolsters the heart Health. And prevents strokes.
4. Good For Digestion: Olive oil can also work wonders for your gastrointestinal tract and colon. Olive oil helps stimulates the digestive system, making food move smoothly through the colon. Rich in mono-saturated fats, olive oil helps in better mobility of food through the colon. This also helps speeding up bowel movement thereby constipation. Mixing a tablespoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of lemon juice can be an effective remedy for constipation.(Also Read:3 Simple Yoga Poses After Dinner That Can Boost Digestion)
5. May Treat Depression: Experts have said that Olive oil can increase the levels of serotonin, the brain chemical that is also called the happiness hormone. Majority of the anti-depressants also steer towards stimulating the production of serotonin.
6. Promotes brain health: The good amounts of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids present in extra virgin olive oil are good for brain and memory power.
Olive oil benefits: The omega-3 acids in olive oil are said to be good for brain health7. Pain reliever: Oleocanthal, a compound present in the olive oil, lends olive oil immense anti-inflammatory properties, thereby making oliVe oil an excellent pain reliever be it externally or internally
Apart from the multiple skin benefits, olive oil can do wonders for your skin, beauty and hair too. Olive oil is packed with Vitamin E, and K which can come to the aid of several of your hair and skin woes. Here's a roundup of Olive Oil Benefits for skin, hair and beauty and how to use the wonder oil to your best advantage.
Olive Oil For Skin
1. Moisturizes your skin Olive oil contains vitamin E, which improves skin health by treating inflammation, acne, and dryness. It also improves skin elasticity and its regenerative properties. The anti-oxidants, minerals and good fats, fight the free radicals, and facilitate healthy and fuller skin respectively.
2. Reduces wrinkles and signs of ageing
A face pack made with olive oil( 2 tablespoon), and lemon juice(1 tablespoon), and a pinch of sea salt, can rejuvenate your skin, and prevent it from sagging and other signs of ageing. Massage your face thoroughly, and repeat the regime at least three times a week. This would give you instant results.
3. Nail Health
Your nails need as much attention as your skin, simply dip a cotton ball in 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and dab it on your nails, the vitamin E in olive oil helps bring your dry brittle nails back to life.
4. Can be used as a shaving foam substitutePressed for time? Can't go for waxing? Razor to the rescue! But beware, make sure you only use shaving foam or cream and not go for soap. It can be rough on your skin. If you have run out of shaving cream, olive oil can be a good substitute to glide your blade over. Olive oil moisturizes the skin as well.
5. Treats cracked heelsExfoliate your cracked heels, with a tablespoon of olive oil and lemon water, and see the instant results for yourself.
Olive Oil For Hair
1. Treats DandruffOlive oil moisturizes your hair and reduces scalp irritation, which further reduces dandruff. Just heat a cup of olive oil and massage hair generously, especially on the scalp and the ends. Let it sit for 20 minutes, post which rinse your hair with mild shampoo.
2. Moisturizes Your HairThe hair smoothening and strengthening qualities of Olive oil is fast gaining recognition throughout the world. Bring your lifeless locks back to life, with the moisturizing hair pack of olive oil (1/2 teaspoon), honey(2 tablespooon) and a protein rich egg yolk. Mix the ingredients thoroughly to get a smooth paste. Apply the paste onto your hair and let it sit for twenty minutes, and then rinse off with cold water. Follow the regime twice a week.
Olive Oil is rich in Vitamin E which makes your hair strong and prevents hair fall. Massaging regularly with olive oil can also fix the problem of split ends.
How to use Olive Oil for Cooking:
Extra virgin olive oil tends to have a subtle golden-green hue with a light peppery flavour. Because it is taken staright out of the fruit and is not refined it has a beautiful crude and pungent smell too. Shilpa Arora ND says, "Always use a good quality extra virgin oil to get all its benefits. It does not have a very high heat point , therefore not quite recommended for frying and heavy cooking."
Dr. Rupali Datta, advises, "It is better to use extra virgin olive oil only for raw or cold cooking. Indian cooking needs are not suited to substitute this oil for our regular vegetable oil. You can use it in salads, as dressings, for making breads and dips. Light sauteing can also be done using extra virgin olive oil."
Here Are Some More Incredible Olive Oil Uses You May Not Have Known About
1. You can use olive oil to remove car grease or paint from your hands :Pour 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt or sugar in a bowl. Now rub the mixture into every corner of your hand and fingers wherever the grease is for a while and finally wash it off with soap and water.
2. You can use olive oil as your in-house furniture polish too: Mix 2 parts olive oil and 1 part lemon juice in a clean container, preferably a spray bottle,. Shake the mixture an spray it on to your furniture. Leave on the mixture for a minute or two, then wipe off with a clean paper towel, and see your old furniture revive its original sheen. You can also apply olive oil straight from the bottle onto a paper towel and apply it on to the furniture for effective results.
3. Helps Dilute Ear Wax: Here's why using olive oil to clean ear wax can be a good idea. Olive oil softens the cerumen impaction in the ear canal, which further goes deep into the inner ear canal. Olive oil helps soften the hardened wax chunks. Once sufficiently softened, the wax gets broken down into smaller and softer pieces, and often moves to the outer edge of your air canal, making it easier to clean.