Extra virgin olive oil: what are its uses and benefits


Extra virgin olive oil is a very popular dressing all over the world.

This is not only because it is a key ingredient in the Mediterranean diet, but also because of its healthy properties. Here we will see all its benefits and how it differs from the other types of olive oils.

Different types of olive oil

Olive oil is a vegetable oil that is obtained from the olive or olive, fruit of the olive tree (Olea europaea).

Historically, this dressing has been linked to the Mediterranean region. Currently, Spain, Greece and Italy account for three quarters of world production. Olive oil differs in:

  • extra virgin olive oil: It is the highest quality olive oil, and there are specific standards to be met to produce it. Good quality olives are used that are subjected to mechanical procedures (without refinement). The result is an oil with an intense green color, strong and pleasant flavor and aroma, and a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals than other types of olive oil. Its acidity level should be less than 0.8%.
  • virgin olive oil: as in the previous case, no chemical products are used to obtain it. The production standards are not so strict, so it has a less intense flavor. In addition, its acidity level must be less than or equal to 2%.
  • Olive oil: it is a mixture of virgin olive oil (between 20 and 25%) and refined olive oil (between 75 and 80%). The latter is obtained through the use of chemical products and high temperatures to deodorize it, discolor it and reduce its acidity. It is of lower quality than the previous oils, with a more neutral flavor and lighter color.
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Benefits of extra virgin olive oil

The properties of extra virgin olive oil depend to a large extent on the variety of olive used for its production, the processing methods and the forms of storage.

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Most of its properties derive from its high content of oleic acid (in some cases reaching 75%).

In addition, being less processed, extra virgin olive oil is richer in fat-soluble vitamins, such as A, D, K, and, especially, E. Thanks to this rich nutritional composition, its consumption is linked to different benefits to health:

Helps control cholesterol levels

Extra virgin olive oil has monounsaturated fats that help reduce blood triglycerides and low-density lipoproteins, commonly called “bad cholesterol”, while increasing the presence of high-density lipoproteins, better known as “good cholesterol”. ”.

against diabetes

There is evidence showing that oleic acid from extra virgin olive oil has beneficial effects on glucose and fat metabolism in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Consuming this oil is also associated with better control of blood sugar levels.

Take care of the skin

Due to its antioxidant quality and richness in essential fatty acids, especially oleic acid, extra virgin olive oil contributes to skin care, favoring skin hydration, conservation and elasticity.

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It can be used for gentle massages and thus tone the skin, reduce the presence of stretch marks, and combat dryness. It is even used for strong, healthy hair and nails.

Digestive

Because it is rich in healthy fats, extra virgin olive oil can work as a natural lubricant.

This promotes proper functioning of the digestive process, while protecting the stomach and intestinal walls.

Its regular consumption is also linked to a lower risk of gastrointestinal problems, such as gastritis, irritation, or constipation.

antioxidant properties

Extra virgin olive oil has certain compounds, such as vitamin E or oleic acid, which have powerful antioxidant effects.

These are useful for reducing the impact of free radicals, unstable molecules that affect healthy cell structures and promote the onset of disease.

infection protection

Although the available evidence is still scarce, the consumption of extra virgin olive oil is usually associated with the prevention of infections caused by bacteria, such as Escherichia coli either Salmonella.

precautions

Despite its benefits, we must not forget that olive oil is made up of approximately 90% fat. Although they are mostly healthy, their caloric intake is very high.

For this reason, experts warn that consuming olive oil in excess can increase the risk of being overweight if its consumption is not complemented with a healthy diet and regular exercise.

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The ideal is to use olive oil to season, however, you can also use it to cook, although when you do, try not to heat it too much or prevent it from smoking. Reuse is also not recommended.

Remember to protect it from sunlight, preferably in dark and cool places, and keep it tightly closed, so that it does not go rancid.

To remind:

Until there is meaningful scientific evidence from human trials, people interested in using herbal therapies and supplements should be very careful.

Do not abandon or modify your medications or treatments, talk to your doctor first about the potential effects of alternative or complementary therapies.

Remember, the medicinal properties of herbs and supplements can also interact with prescription drugs, other herbs and supplements, and even alter your diet.

Sources consulted: Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, US National Library of Medicine, US Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

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