Olive oil, the core of the Mediterranean diet
Module 1, Unit 3, Level: Basic
Olive oil, extra virgin olive oil, healthy grease, nutritional value, health, cardiovascular disorders, obesity
Olive oil can be defined as liquid fat at 20ºC directly obtained from the fruit of the olive tree. It shows a golden yellow colour and its appearance should be liquid, oily and translucent, with no sediments. Olive oil is considered the core of the Mediterranean diet having been cultivated and used since approximately 4000 b. C.
Extra virgin olive oil presents several advantages. It is rich in healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and contains large amounts of antioxidants with beneficial health properties. In addition, it has anti-inflammatory properties, and has been widely described as a healthy food for prevention of cardiovascular diseases, being used in clinical trials with very positive results.
Olive oil should be our main source of lipids due to its high nutritional properties and could be also used for cosmetics.
Extra virgin olive oil in its main varieties, such as Arbequina, Picual, Hojiblanca (Spain), Carpallese, Canino, Biancolilla (Italy), Koroneiki and Conservolia (Greece), Branquita, Cobrançosa and Galega de Évora (Portugal).
Not all types of olive oil have the same properties. For instance, pomace oil is extracted with solvents. Despite the fact that olive oil stands high temperatures due to its high smoke point, there is a risk on the formation of toxic compounds if we reuse the oil in frying.
Olive oil should be stored at temperatures between 15 and 18 °C, protected from light and heat, and well-sealed to avoid oxidation and rancidification.