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Walla, Walla, WA | 509-529-7537

Is Olive Oil Bad For You?

Despite having long been considered the healthiest oil on the planet, in recent years, olive oil has come under fire. As with almost every other healthy food, new studies are attempting to debunk olive oil’s abundance of health claims.

Understanding this can be frustratingly confusing for consumers, we’ve decided to address this lingering question once and for all. Join us as we take an in-depth look at the numerous, proven reasons olive oil continues to stand as the healthiest oil you can incorporate in your diet.

1. Olive Oil is High in Monounsaturated Fats

One of the main arguments that skeptics like to use in making a case against olive oil is that monounsaturated fats can still contribute to atherosclerosis. While it’s certainly true that monounsaturated fats can lead to arterial and heart problems when consumed in large amounts, any fat consumed in large amounts will do exactly the same.

What makes the monounsaturated fats in olive oil so healthy is the beneficial properties that other fats are lacking. Oleic acid, the primary monounsaturated fat found in olive oil has been shown in multiple studies to help reduce inflammation in the body.

Additionally, monounsaturated fats are well known to raise HDL cholesterol and lower LDL cholesterol, helping to mitigate the risk of heart disease and stroke. Lastly, monounsaturated fats are naturally resistant to heat, making olive oil the perfect oil to cook with, especially when compared to alternative oils.

2. Olive Oil is Packed With Antioxidants

Another way that skeptics try to take a swing at olive oil is by proclaiming that all plant-based foods are packed with polyphenols and sterols, and therefore you should avoid incorporating olive oil in your diet. While it’s certainly true that most plant-based foods have naturally high levels of polyphenols and sterols so long as they undergo minimal to no processing, that doesn’t mean they can or should replace olive oil in your diet.

Because extra virgin olive oil is the least processed of the various types of olive oil you can buy, it preserves all of its natural antioxidants and beneficial compounds. By comparison, since most other oils are heavily processed, they have little to no beneficial properties or antioxidants.

The antioxidants found in extra virgin olive oil offer a variety of health benefits that have been proven by multiple studies. In fact, the phenolic compounds in combination with vitamin E have been shown to help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and atherosclerosis.

3. Olive Oil Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Scientists have long known that chronic inflammation in the body can contribute to the development of a variety of different diseases. Because recent studies have also found that high fat diets increase inflammatory markers in the body, many olive oil skeptics have jumped to the conclusion that consuming olive oil in your diet must do the same thing.

As it turns out, olive oil has multiple anti-inflammatory properties that are well documented with research. Tying into point number two, antioxidants take center stage once again, largely contributing to olive oil’s anti-inflammatory effects.

One phenolic compound in particular, oleocanthal, has been shown to work similarly to one of the most common OTC medications, ibuprofen. Though more research still needs to be done, another study found evidence suggesting that the antioxidants in olive oil actually inhibit genes and proteins that are known to drive inflammation.

If that’s still not enough evidence, further studies have found that oleic acid, the primary monounsaturated fat in olive oil, actually reduces CRP (C-reactive protein), an important inflammatory marker in the body. Together, all of the studies and evidence are largely in support of olive oil’s anti-inflammatory properties.

4. Olive Oil Helps Prevent Heart Disease

The latest study that olive oil skeptics have been using to make a case in their defense relates to vasoconstriction that occurs after eating a meal high in fat. Despite the study showing evidence that olive oil and other fats can cause arterial constriction for a limited amount of time, they were unable to prove that vasoconstriction was causing any damage to the arteries.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are hundreds of studies continuing to find supportive evidence that olive oil actually helps prevent heart disease, not cause it. As the leading cause of death in the world, studies have time and time again found that individuals following the Mediterranean diet (of which olive oil is one of the primary ingredients) have drastically reduced rates of heart disease.

Even more convincingly and in direct opposition of Dr. Vogel’s recent findings, dozens of studies have shown that olive oil not only lowers inflammation, but that it prevents LDL cholesterol from becoming oxidized, may prevent blood clotting, and decreases blood pressure while improving endothelial function.

In further support of olive oil’s protective properties, another study found that olive oil was able to reduce the need for blood pressure medication by an impressive 48%, one of the worst risk factors for heart disease.

Our Conclusions

Having only just scratched the surface of olive oil’s numerous health benefits, the overwhelming amount of evidence and research in support of these claims leave little room for doubt. Here at D’Olivo, we’ve made it our mission and passion to introduce any and everyone we come in contact with to the deliciously holistic world of olive oil.

That is why we firmly believe that olive oil is and will continue to be the healthiest oil you can incorporate into your diet. There are lots of great options, both regular and flavored olive oils, to choose from that will make any dish delicious.

10 Delicious Ways to Use Balsamic Vinegar This Summer

Without a little culinary creativity, a bottle of balsamic vinegar can end up hibernating in your pantry for months on end. Even though you know it tastes great, balsamic vinegar is a little tough to work with when trying to figure out where it can fit into a recipe.

With the summer months upon us, we wanted to share with you some of our favorite ways to use balsamic vinegar this season. Ready to dive into the deliciously creative world of balsamic vinegar? Let’s go!

1. Try it in a Cocktail

As craft cocktails continue to become more popular, it may come as a surprise that balsamic vinegar can be used to add an exciting zing to some of your favorite libations. Whether you prefer sangrias, bellinis, or even bloody marys, a few drops of balsamic vinegar can bring an exciting twist to classic cocktails across the spectrum.

After all, what better way to relax and cool off during the hot summer months than by indulging in some refreshing balsamic vinegar-inspired cocktail? Try this recipe for fun!

2. Marinate Different Meats

Because balsamic vinegar packs such a flavorful punch, it makes for the perfect marinade. Brushing a generous layer over steak and letting it sit in the fridge for a few hours before grilling is one of our favorite ways to use balsamic vinegar as a marinade. You can also use it in combination with other marinades to further enhance the flavors that meats such as chicken will take on while soaking.

3. Summer Time Salad Dressings

Even though balsamic vinegar-based dressings can be used year round, why not change things up during the summer months? By simply adding some citrus zest and flavors to your favorite balsamic vinegar dressing recipe, you can instantly add a refreshing zing that will have all of your guests raving.

For the best results, we suggest using orange and lime zest, or even some raspberry to figure out what flavors you like best.

4. Use It As A Glaze

Are you a fan of thick, flavor packed glazes that can instantly elevate even the most basic of meals to a feast fit for kings? We don’t recommend reducing the balsamics you purchase from our store, but you can get the same glaze and excellent flavor from our Denissimo balsamic vinegar. This delicious treat is naturally aged for 30 years and gives the same flavor packed punch you can get from reduction.

5. A Strawberry’s Best Friend

Strawberries are a summertime staple no matter where you go. Their bright red color, sweet, succulent flavor, and ability to be served as a snack or compliment to ice cream make them the perfect partner for balsamic vinegar. The savory, slightly bitter flavor of balsamic vinegar works wonderfully with the sweet tartness of strawberries.

Simply drizzle some over fresh cut strawberries with a touch of sugar, or even with a bowl of ice cream and some whipped cream.

6. Sauteed Brussel Sprouts

Brussel sprouts have been all the craze lately in the culinary world. If you’ve become a fan of these tasty little morsels, add your own tasty twist by drizzling a little balsamic vinegar into the sautéing pan a few minutes before they finish cooking. This will give it enough time to thicken into a glaze while also adhering nicely to the brussels.

With this simple recipe, you can play around with all kinds of fun additions since brussels sprouts tend to adapt very well to a wide range of flavors.

7. Make Your Flatbread Fancy

Flatbreads are another summertime essential that you’ll soon see making their way onto the menus of restaurants around Walla Walla. Whether indulging at a restaurant or from the comfort of your own home, balsamic vinegar serves as the perfect topping for flatbreads. Our personal favorite is the caprese flatbread, but balsamic vinegar can easily introduce a fancy look and taste to just about any of the recipes.

Of course, it doesn’t stop there! Make a balsamic vinegar reduction like we covered above to really bring out the flavors.

8. Mix Some Into Your Yogurt

Do you love snacking on yogurt, but find yourself getting tired of the same old flavors from your local grocery store? Depending on your personal preference and mood from day to day, balsamic vinegar (or reduction) is a quick and easy way to change bland yogurt into a snack of pure decadence. With just a few drops and a quick swirl of the spoon, we’re confident you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Sprinkle in some granola and sliced strawberries if you’re feeling really adventurous. This is a great dish for impressing guests while you relax in the shade.

9. Balsamic Avocado

If you’re a fan of avocado, you’re going to love this tasty tip. Because avocado packs very little taste by itself, balsamic vinegar makes for the perfect partner by bringing a huge flavor profile. The best part? You can prepare this combination any number of ways. Whether you prefer eating avocado in slices, peeled, or even mashed into guacamole, you can add balsamic vinegar at any point to instantly elevate your dish.

Want to make it more filling? Try using this recipe with some avocado toast or even in a salad to make a full, flavorful meal.

10. Add it to Seltzer Water

We know, this may sound a little strange at first, but you have to trust us. Taking your favorite brand of seltzer water (flavored or not), simply drizzle a small amount of balsamic vinegar into your glass and stir to create your own unique soda! While it’s not going to taste the same as some of the big name brands out there, you’ll be able to enjoy a refreshing beverage with way fewer calories!

Depending on how adventurous you’re feeling, try adding some balsamic vinegar to your favorite flavored sodas to see what new tastes come from it!

Fun Ways to Use Flavored Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar

How can you use olive oils and balsamic vinegars in your daily life? As healthy as olive oil and balsamic vinegars can be for you, half of the fun is in finding exciting ways to use them in the kitchen. Because they come in so many different flavor varieties, there’s endless culinary possibilities that you can experiment with.

At D’Olivo, we carry 36 varieties of olive oil and 40 types of balsamic vinegar that allow you to indulge your taste buds and ad fun twists to your favorite dishes. We’re excited to share some of the best ways you can use flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars to spice up meals and create fun snacks that everyone will enjoy. We also encourage you to check out our recipes section on the website for more specific ideas.

1. Make Soup Exciting Again

Whether making soup from a can or concocting your own from various ingredients, soup is a perfect dish to experiment with flavored olive oils. Due to its consistency, oils blend perfectly with soups, allowing the flavor profiles to disperse evenly and add a bold or subtle taste to each spoon full. Consider using our cayenne chili or cilantro & roasted onion olive oils in creamier soups to add more depth. For lighter soups, our Tuscan herb or lemon infused oils can work wonders.

2. Dynamic Pizza & Flatbreads

Looking for a way to spice up your favorite pizza dish? Balsamic vinegar is the perfect partner to nearly any flatbread. The thick consistency and dark color of balsamic vinegar contrasts nicely from lighter cheeses and ingredients often used on pizza and flatbreads, making them even more tantalizing. From a tasting standpoint, the salty nature of pizza entrees make them the ideal candidate for a touch of sweetness. Explore the different flavors we carry and indulge your taste buds with some new flatbread combinations the next time you’re enjoying a slice.

3. The New Way to Roast Vegetables

Roasting is a widely loved method of cooking that produces deliciously crisp and tender vegetables. Whether using a traditional oven or cooking on an open flame, try cooking with flavored oils rather than plain to discover entirely new vegetable dishes. As the vegetables roast in the oil, they will actually absorb some of the flavor and introduce you to exciting new tastes. Depending on the vegetables you’re using and the flavors you enjoy, browse our collection of oils to see which would pair best.

4. Balsamic Popcorn Creations

Are you the kind of foodie that loves to watch a good movie with a big bowl of hot, buttery popcorn in your lap? As great as popcorn is by itself, there are dozens of ways you can transform this tasty snack into something even better. The naturally salty flavor of popcorn makes it perfect for pairing with sweet and tangy balsamic vinegars. We have dozens of vinegars that are made from sweeter ingredients like peaches, chocolate, honey ginger, and plenty more. Pick your favorite flavor (or two) and simply drizzle it over the top of your popcorn to enjoy!

5. Ice Cream With a Funky Twist

This one is going to sound a little weird at first, but once you try it, you’ll never look at balsamic vinegar the same again. While salty sweet combinations are certainly delicious, there’s a lot to be said about sweet on sweet combinations as well! Load up a bowl of your favorite ice cream, chop up some fresh fruit if you’d like, and drizzle on a flavored balsamic vinegar of your choosing like chocolate syrup. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how well the flavors work together and may even start using it as a regular topping when you indulge in a late night treat.

6. Guilt-Free Kale Chips

Kale chips have been all the craze lately, serving as healthier alternatives to their addictive, higher calorie cousin, the potato chip. These light, crisp snacks are a match made in heaven for flavored olive oils, allowing you to experiment with hundreds of different recipes. Simply pick out your favorite flavor (or two if you want to experiment) and lightly toss the kale in oil until it’s coated and ready for the oven. Once cooked to a nice even crisp, you’ll find that the kale has absorbed a lot of the oil’s flavor, adding a welcome twist to your favorite snack food. Be sure to share this one with friends and family!

7. Yogurt for Champions

Yogurt is a wonderful snack food that can oftentimes serve as a blank canvas for experimentation. The tartness of balsamic vinegar and sweeter flavors of most yogurts marry perfectly when blended together. Simply adding a few drops of your favorite flavored balsamic vinegar and stirring it in will yield an incredibly tasty cup of yogurt. Depending on how you’re feeling, you’ll find that most flavored vinegars pair nicely with yogurt. Browse our collection now to begin exploring new ways you can spice up this healthy snack.

8. Never Buy Mayonnaise Again

If you’ve never made your own mayonnaise, it’s actually not all that hard and can be more cost effective than buying it from the store. While mayo already tastes great by itself, adding a little bit of your favorite flavored olive oil will produce an even more addictive condiment. Consider using selections like our California garlic or fernleaf dill oils to take your mayo to the next level and increase its versatility in dishes. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself putting it on everything you make!

Health Benefits of Balsamic Vinegar

After making a big splash in the culinary scene over the last few decades, balsamic vinegar has become a widely used and loved ingredient all around the world. From chefs using it in complex dishes to people taking it for the many holistic properties, balsamic vinegar is much more than your average kitchen ingredient. In this article, we’re going to first explore how balsamic vinegar is made before reviewing four of the most important health benefits this product offers.

What is Balsamic Vinegar?

Dating back over 1,000 years to Modena, Italy, where balsamic vinegar was originally used as a tonic and given to people importance as a token of honor, it has since become wildly popular around the world because of its distinctively bold flavor profiles and touch of sweetness. Though most often known for its use in salad dressings, balsamic vinegar can be used in everything from marinades to soups.

Classified as a wine vinegar (even though it’s not made from wine), balsamic vinegar is actually produced from sweet grape pressings before they’re given the chance to ferment into wine. After undergoing a transformative journey through the production process, balsamic vinegar becomes the darkly colored, concentrated syrup that we know it as today.

How is Balsamic Vinegar Made?

Similar to wine and other craft-intensive products, balsamic vinegar typically undergoes the same general production process. Where they differ is in the quality of the grapes used, types of aging barrels, and the amount of time aged. In fact, the amount of time aged is one of the biggest contributing factors to both taste and price. It’s for this reason that some traditional balsamic vinegars can go for as much as $250 an ounce, while others can be bought for as little as $5 for a 12-ounce bottle.

Traditional balsamic vinegar is made from Lambrusco or Trebbiano grape pressings which are sweet in flavor. Once the pressings are collected, they’re boiled down into a concentrated syrup and left to ferment naturally for a few weeks. Once the vinegar has fermented, it’s transferred into wooden barrels to begin the rest of the 12-year aging process. While this is the minimum amount of time for traditional balsamic vinegar, others may only be aged for a few months, or for as long as 100 years.

Throughout the aging process, the balsamic vinegar is transferred into barrels crafted from different wood so it can take on unique flavor profiles. Once the aging process is done and most of the liquid has evaporated, the final concentrated product undergoes inspection before being carefully bottled and prepared for enjoyment.

Health Benefits of Balsamic Vinegar

1. It’s a Healthy Alternative for Diabetics

Because diabetics have to watch the kinds of food they eat due to differing glycemic responses, it can greatly limit the choices they have both at home and at restaurants. Balsamic vinegar is classified as a low glycemic food and has actually been shown to help prevent blood sugar spikes after eating. One study found that insulin-resistant test subjects experienced blood sugar plateaus for as long as five hours after consuming balsamic vinegar with their meal.

This is great for those with diabetes because it adds a lot of flavor and only comes in at around 14 calories per tablespoon and less than 3 grams of carbohydrates. With just one or two servings of balsamic vinegar, you can enhance meals by adding a little diversity and help your body’s blood sugar response stay balanced from meal to meal.

2. It Can Help With Cholesterol Levels

With more and more people suffering from high cholesterol levels each year, a lot of the balsamic vinegar research has been focused on its cholesterol-fighting properties and ability to help people maintain healthy levels. The abundance of antioxidants, polyphenols, in particular, have been shown to inhibit LDL oxidation and prevent toxic cells from raising LDL levels. Though not enough to be a standalone treatment, balsamic vinegar has been recognized as a great addition to any efforts to reduce cholesterol.

Another study also found that balsamic vinegar may help reduce atherosclerosis risk factors when consumed on a regular basis because of its natural cholesterol lowering properties. As one of the leading factors that contribute to the development of atherosclerosis, balsamic vinegar is great for those that are more at risk or wanting to take preventative measures.

3. Digestive and Immune System Health

When you consume food, the job of digestion falls to the stomach acids and bacteria present in the gut. If your digestive system is in bad shape, not only will you have a harder time digesting foods, but you’ll also be depriving your body of all the nutrients due to decreased absorption. One of the main active compounds found in balsamic vinegar is acetic acid, which is known to contain probiotic strains that help keep your body’s digestive system in good health.

Because it can help to create a healthy environment for good bacteria in the gut, your immune system is also going to get a boost, better preparing it to fight off illnesses. Lastly, balsamic vinegar can also influence the activity of pepsin, an enzyme that helps with the breakdown of protein so it can be absorbed by the body easier.

4. Weight Loss Aid

Representing an industry that generates over $60 billion annually in the United States alone, weight loss is a popular topic of discussion. Vinegars have long been known for their weight loss properties, and balsamic vinegar offers its own unique benefits as well. The range of probiotic compounds present in balsamic vinegar can actually help with the feeling of fullness, preventing the urge to overeat at lunch or indulge in a late night snack.

It’s also worth mentioning that balsamic vinegar gives you the freedom to add more flavor to your meals without the use of high-calorie, unhealthy alternatives such as butter, mayonnaise, and animal fats. Experiment with different cuisines and dishes to find exciting ways to incorporate it into your meals and help you reach your weight loss goals.

Shop our variety of balsamic vinegars online today.