Olive Oil FAQS
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Extra Virgin Olive Oil:
- Extra virgin olive oil is the highest grade of olive oil.
- Olive oils are classified into the following categories: extra virgin olive oil, pure olive oil, olive oil, \ refined olive oil, pomace olive oil, and lampante oil, all in significant descending order of quality, with the last category being not fit for human consumption.
- EVOO is essentially fresh olive juice, extracted from any of the hundreds of varies that were picked at the growers desired level of ripeness and harvested, milled and stored in a highly quality controlled manner.
- The oil must pass a taste panel to prove it tastes like olive oil and has no taste flaws
- Virgin olive oil: acidity< 2% and acceptable taste.
- Refined olive oil (same as "pure olive oil" ): made from oil that had such unpleasant taste characteristics that refining, with activated charcoal and other physical/chemical means extracts the adverse taste elements resulting in bland, neutral oil. This process also removes most of the health
- Pomace oil: extracted from the pomace (residue of milling, otherwise used as cattle feed), utilizing chemical solvents, usually hexane, and by heat. Sometimes blended with a bit of virgin production oil to give some taste. It is fit for consumption, but cannot technically be called an olive oil. This is an oil commonly used in restaurants!
Olive Oil: What's The Benefit?
We are what we eat. We've all heard this, and in the case of olive oil, it is really true. Olive oil is good for your heart health and is a great example to show why it is important for us to choose what we eat wisely.
Why Is Olive Oil Good For Your Heart?
To start with, olive oil has a good balance of mono saturate fats, which promote an increase in the levels ofHDL ("good" cholesterol) and a decrease in the levels ofLDL ("bad" cholesterol) for a healthier ratio of "good" to "bad" cholesterol. In addition, olive oil contains important bioactive components that are good for your heart health. These compounds include naturally occurring vitamin E, omega 3 (healthy essential fatty acids), and most importantly, polyphenols.
What Are Polyphenols?
The polyphenols are a large class, there are over 100 of them in olive oil, and they all share a similar effect: they are intensely anti-inflammatory agents. Why do they exist? One thing with nature is, "to everything there is a purpose". The purpose of polyphenols in the olive is to protect the fruit from environmental stress of oxidation and the attendant inflammation that results. The very oxygen we all rely on to live has another side, oxygen free radicals. These free radical molecules are intensely reactive with biological tissues, causing an inflammatory response and resultant micro-tissue damage. The polyphenols help neutralize them, preventing this damage.
What Do Polyphenols Do For Olive Oil ?
In the olive, the polyphenols start to build up as the fruit forms. The levels in the fruit increase for the first two-thirds of the growing season, when the olive is green. Then an interesting thing occurs- the olive color begins to change from green to purple, and eventually to black. During this time the polyphenols begin to drop off, and the fat levels in the fruit increase, as the olive changes its focus from becoming a bigger fruit, to getting ready for eventual drop from the tree to ground, where the job of the fruit is to be the initial food basket for the developing seed. At that point, the polyphenols are not needed to protect from environmental stress any longer.
What Do Polyphenols Do For Our Bodies?
This group of chemicals does essentially the same thing in our bodies as they do in the fruit, they protect us from environmental stress, specifically, they help neutralize the free oxygen radicals, thereby being intensely anti-inflammatory. This is very important for health, as many chronic diseases are really a process of ongoing, low level inflammation- vascular diseases being a prime example. If we can reduce this inflammation, then we can slow, or even prevent the progression or occurrence of plaque build-up around our arteries, which occurs as a result of inflammation. The polyphenols in olive oil have a medicinal quality anti-inflammatory effect, and, therefore, can contribute to an improvement in cardiovascular health.