We wrote a while back about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet
One of the key components of this diet is extra virgin olive oil.
Sadly, like most things today there are varying levels of quality and price. In the case of olive oil it really is a case of you get what you pay for.
The real McCoy Extra Virgin Oil comes from the first pressing of the olive; there are no unnecessary processes or heat used. The oil is cold pressed, pure and required to meet standards of taste and smell.
Virgin oil comes from the second pressing of the olives, so it is still good but not the best
Then there are the light versions which inevitably are mixes not just olive oil. You will be buying a product that may have soybean oil in it for example
Sadly, because olive oil is so popular there will be lots of food fraud so when buying olive oil always look for the words cold pressed. If you are buying Extra Virgin Oil at £3.50 a bottle think again, what are you really buying?
Why is EVO good for us?
EVO = Extra Virgin Oil, this is the best and whilst I refer to olive oil I always means EVO.
Despite the poor image of fats over the years, people are beginning to realise that we need fats to be healthy and happy. The distinction is the type of fat we consume.
Olive oil is monosaturated fatty acid it contains high levels of Oleic Acid which is a strong support against inflammation. Inflammation as you know is the basis of chronic disease so we all want to avoid that! (See our previous blog on Inflammation causes and how to manage it)
Olive oil ticks the boxes because it helps us to fight heart disease; it protects us against oxidative stress or free radicals to you and me! It can help lower blood pressure too.
Our brains need the right nutrients and this includes the right fats. With the right fats we are happy, our mood is upbeat and we are able to be focused and retain information. With all of this going on you can see why Olive Oil is being linked to positive research for conditions like dementia and alzheimer's.
If that isn’t enough, Olive Oil can also help us with our weight management. Healthy fats allow us to control our insulin level which in turn means we don’t get blood sugar issues and therefore no cravings for the sweet stuff and so it is easier to maintain a steady weight.
It is suggested that doses of 4 tbsp a day is the right amount to keep us healthy.
How can you use EVO?
Personally, my favourite indulgence is a gorgeous wedge of bread, a plate of EVO and balsamic vinegar. Just dip your bread in the oil and vinegar mix heaven especially if you can be in Italy too…
Recipes for EVO
For me the taste of EVO is so good, I like simple combinations such as the bread and balsamic vinegar. You could try a plate of home-grown tomatoes and fresh basil may be throw in some mozzarella and avocado
Any salad or dressing will always be enhanced by superior oil. Cakes and desserts can be made with olive oil too.
I like to drizzle EVO on my pizza crust – yummy!
Here are a couple of salads you could try:
Tomato and Courgette with Lavender leaves
Cucumber and Tarragon Salad
Which brings me nicely round to our fabulous Olive oil. Giuliano’s oil won the great taste award for 2016 plus it meets all the criteria of being cold pressed and having the appropriate accreditation's.
What I really love is that the best before date and the batch number are handwritten; it makes it feel so much more personal. Before I forget the most important part it tastes great too!
Finally, once you have found your favourite olive oil. Look after it, store it in a cool dark place, not next to the cooker where it is subject to heat variations and make sure you buy one in a dark bottle.
The uses for EVO are endless so go ahead and enjoy!