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Olive Oil – A Prerequisite for Eudaimonia

Olive OilOlive, a member of Oleaceae family is a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin. The oil extracted from the olives comes  used in cooking, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, soaps and as a fuel for traditional oil lamps. Olive oil is the only vegetable oil in its category that can be consumed as it is – freshly pressed from the fruit. Olive oil preserves the taste, aroma, vitamins and properties of the olive fruit in view of the fact that it comes as a direct fruit.

Types of Olive Oil

Olive Oil comes in a wide variety depending on the amount of processing or crushing done to extract the oil. Some of the varieties include –

Extra virgin – It is considered the best among all the varieties, comes as least processed and comprises of the oil from the first pressing of the olives.
Virgin – Virgin oil comes from the second pressing after the extra
is extracted.
Pure – This kind undergoes some processing, such as filtering and refining.
Extra light – This undergoes substantial processing and only retains a very mild olive flavor.

Health benefits of Olive Oil

A rich source of Vitamin A, D, E, K, Olive oil adds to the valuable health effects due to its high content of monounsaturated fatty acids and its high content of anti oxidative substances. It has a large amount of monounsaturated acids , mainly oleic acid which is not present in any other naturally produced oil. It has also been  shown that olive oil controls LDL (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, also called “bad” cholesterol) cholesterol levels while raising HDL (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, also called “good” cholesterol) levels , thus offering protection against heart diseases.

Olive oil’s shielding functions has a very positive effect on ulcers and gastritis. Olive oil activates the secretion of bile and pancreatic hormones much more naturally than prescribed drugs. As a result, it lowers the incidence of formation. So Olive oil is as good for stomach as well.

  • Surrogating olive oil for other saturated fats or polyunsaturated fats can do wonders in:
  • Reducing blood pressure
  • Inhibiting  the growth of some cancers like the colon cancer , mainly due to the presence of oleic acid
  • Controlling blood sugar
  • Lessening the severity of asthma and arthritis
  • Maintaining a lower body weight

Olive Oil Vs Other Vegetable Oils

Vegetable oils are typically made by amalgamation of the oils from a variety of nuts, fruits and seeds. Common varieties in vegetable oil include olive oil, soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil and peanut oil. Olive oil being natural oil has much more health benefits as compared to vegetable oil. Olive oil has a lower smoke point than vegetable oil because it has a lower fat content than vegetable. Olive oil has 70-80% oleic acid which is a monounsaturated fat, and 8-10% polyunsaturated fats. On the other hand most other vegetable oils contain less monounsaturated fats and more polyunsaturated fats. Fats derived from animals have a high level of saturated fats. All these factors make olive oil a better choice over other vegetable oils.

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