Written by Fiona Wing (Naturopath Adv. Dipl. Nat. Dip. Nut)
“Published studies show that no other food comes close to Extra Virgin Olive Oil for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease”– Senior Research Dietician and Associate Professor of Medicine Mary Flynn, Brown University.
Recently, some members of the Caruso’s Team and I had the privilege of being taken on a tour of the Cobram Estate olive groves which lie on the flat plains of regional Victoria, just south of the Murray River. The Australian Olive Industry has gained an international reputation for producing some of the freshest and finest quality Olive Oils in the world. A great achievement for local business!
It was a fantastic day that started with a drive through the groves to watch the fascinating process of olive oil manufacture from harvesting through to pressing and vatting. An unrefined and uncomplicated procedure done in the absence of heat or chemicals, which can take as little as four hours and produces the freshest of oils.
Fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil is rich in Vitamin E, squalene, the monounsaturated Omega 9 Fatty Acid known as Oleic Acid, and many antioxidants and phytosterols unique to olive oil. You can taste the antioxidant content as a peppery sensation at the back of your throat. “Extra Light” or “Pure” Olive Oils do not contain these valuable constituents and are therefore much less likely to convey all of the health benefits associated with the use of fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is actually considered to be the “juice of the fruit” and when consumed at its freshest, doesn’t leave an oily residue or taste in your mouth. Rather, good quality olive oil should taste clean and fresh and remind you of the smell of freshly cut grass, citrus or tomato bush.
Not only did we gain insights into how olive oil is manufactured, but we were also introduced to the team working in the Olive Wellness Institute. The Institute has dedicated itself to compiling high-quality evidence that shows the myriad of health benefits conveyed by fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The main constituents conferring these health benefits are the antioxidant phenols, phytosterols, squalene and Oleic Acid.
Fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil contains over 30 different antioxidants – more than any other mainstream cooking oil – which is important, not only for protecting the valuable Omega 9 Fatty Acids found in Olive Oil but also for helping to combat free radical damage to body cells. Interestingly, one of olive oil’s most potent anti-inflammatory compounds – oleocanthal – is ONLY found in Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It is formed during the olive oil manufacturing process and is not present in the olive itself. Oleocanthal has been shown to have a mild anti-inflammatory action similar to that of some over the counter products for inflammation. Oleocanthal gives a slight bitterness to Fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil which you can often feel on the sides of your tongue.
The antioxidant phenols and the phytosterols in fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil have been well researched and have been shown to improve the LDL/HDL (Good Cholesterol/Bad Cholesterol) ratio, reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol (helping to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease), maintain healthy blood pressure and confer some antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antiviral activity.
The squalene content of Extra Virgin Olive Oil is amongst the highest of all foods. Squalene is another type of antioxidant that is often used in cosmetic products as it may help to protect the skin. Often, squalene is sourced from sharks which are killed in order to obtain the squalene. Extra Virgin Olive Oil provides a “cruelty-free” alternative to most commercially available sources of squalene.
Oleic acid has been shown to benefit cardiovascular disease by helping to maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Around 20mLs each day of Extra Virgin Olive Oil is enough for you to reap the health benefits. Get some on your salad, or your bread, or your roasted veggies, or your eggs, or your beets, or your avocado on toast, or your tomatoes.
Fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil is safe for use in cooking. The large antioxidant content of the Extra Virgin Olive Oil adds stability to the oil and will protect the valuable Fatty Acids from break down when exposed to high temperatures. When oils are heated, they produce substances known as “polar compounds”. The more polar compounds that are produced when the oil is heated, the more degraded and less beneficial to your health the oil has become. Recent studies have shown, that Fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil produces less polar compounds when heated than any other mainstream cooking oil. For further information visit Olivewellnessinstitute.org