What You Should Know About Your Olive Oil
Not all extra virgin olive oil is high quality. Many poor quality oils are diluted with old oils and common-seed oils. The U.S. does not have controlled standards for classifying oils so there are many that are not truly extra virgin olive oils.
Olive oil is perishable. It is generally better when it is fresher. Certain chemical components degrade over time and other conditions develop like rancidity. These changes affect the nutritional value, shelf life and taste of the oil.
When olive oil is exposed to air, light or heat, it deteriorates and can become unfit for consumption. Rancid oil is harmful. Once purchased and bottled, our oil should be used within 12 months.
Defining the Positive Characteristics of Olive Oil
Knowing the chemical composition of olive oil will help one choose an olive oil that enhances one's cooking and intensifies the dining experience.
The chemistry of an olive oil is dictated by many factors including timing and harvesting, picking at the right stage of ripeness, crushing quickly, olive variety, and the entire process itself.
The most pertinent chemical measurements that are responsible for the health benefits of olive oils are:
- POLYPHENOL - antioxidant substances that determine the level of bitterness and pungency (whether it is mild, medium, or robust/bold). The higher the level, the healthier the oil. A polyphenol value between 220 and 400 can be considered high, and some oils have even higher levels.
- OLEIC ACID - Its high resistance to free radicals helps slow the spread of damaging chemical-chain reactions. Levels must be between 55 and 83. The higher the oleic acid, the better the oil. The higher the oleic acid content, the higher the nutritional value and the shelf life of the oil.
Examining the make-up of olive oil helps us understand the potential health benefits, determine the shelf life, and even predict how the oil will react when combined with other ingredients in our recipes.
In addition to adding depth to the flavor of food, olive oil offers many health benefits.
Substituting olive oil for other fats in the diet may keep hearts healthy, reduce inflammation, lower the risk of certain cancers, and assist with controlling diabetes and weight gain. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat; it lowers bad cholesterol (LDL) without affecting good cholesterol (HDL). Saturated and trans fats — such as butter, animal fats, tropical oils and partially hydrogenated oils — do exactly the opposite.
Substituting olive oil for saturated fats or polyunsaturated fats may:
- Reduce blood pressure
- Inhibit the growth of certain cancers
- Benefit people with diabetes
- Lessen the severity of asthma and arthritis
- Help your body maintain a lower weight
- Reduce gastrointestinal problems (gall stones, ulcers and gastritis)
Substitute 100% EVOO for butter or margarine:
Butter/Margarine Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon 3/4 teaspoon
1 tablespoon 2 1/4 teaspoons
1/4 cup 3 tablespoons
1/3 cup 1/4 cup
1/2 cup 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons
2/3 cup 1/2 cup
3/4 cup 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon
1 cup 3/4 cup