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Exploring the Health Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

In the realm of culinary oils, few hold as great a reputation as extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). Renowned for its rich flavor, versatility in cooking, and numerous health benefits, EVOO has long been a staple in Mediterranean cuisine and beyond. But is extra virgin olive oil truly good for you? Let’s delve into the science behind its health-promoting properties and why it’s considered a nutritional powerhouse.

What Sets Extra Virgin Olive Oil Apart?

Before delving into its health benefits, it’s essential to understand what distinguishes extra virgin olive oil from other types of olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is extracted from olives using mechanical methods, without the use of heat or chemicals. This gentle extraction process preserves the oil’s natural flavors, aromas, and nutritional properties, making it the highest quality and most flavorful olive oil available on the market today.

Rich in Healthy Fats:

One of the primary reasons why extra virgin olive oil is considered good for you is its high content of monounsaturated fats, particularly oleic acid. Monounsaturated fats are known for their heart-healthy properties, as they can help reduce LDL cholesterol levels while increasing HDL cholesterol levels, thus improving overall cardiovascular health.

Abundant in Antioxidants:

Extra virgin olive oil is also rich in powerful antioxidants, such as phenols, tocopherols (vitamin E), and carotenoids. These antioxidants help protect the body from oxidative stress and inflammation, which are underlying factors in various chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative conditions.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties:

The phenolic compounds found in extra virgin olive oil exhibit potent anti-inflammatory properties, helping to reduce inflammation throughout the body. Chronic inflammation is linked to numerous health problems, including arthritis, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases. Consuming extra virgin olive oil as part of a balanced diet may help mitigate inflammation and promote overall health.

Heart Health Benefits:

Numerous studies have demonstrated the beneficial effects of extra virgin olive oil on heart health. Regular consumption of EVOO has been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and hypertension. The monounsaturated fats and antioxidants in olive oil help improve blood lipid profiles, and lower blood pressure.

Supports Brain Health:

The antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds in extra virgin olive oil may also benefit brain health and cognitive function. Research suggests that a Mediterranean-style diet rich in olive oil is associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Weight Management:

Contrary to common misconceptions, consuming moderate amounts of extra virgin olive oil may actually support weight management and healthy weight loss. The monounsaturated fats in olive oil help increase satiety and feelings of fullness, reducing the risk of overeating.

Additionally, the Mediterranean diet, which includes plenty of olive oil, has been linked to lower rates of obesity and metabolic syndrome.

How to Incorporate Extra Virgin Olive Oil Into Your Diet:

Now that we’ve explored the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil, you may be wondering how to incorporate it into your daily diet. Here are some simple ways to enjoy the nutritional goodness of EVOO:

Use it in Salad Dressings: Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over salads along with a splash of balsamic vinegar for a simple and delicious dressing.

Dip with Bread: Enjoy crusty bread dipped in high-quality EVOO seasoned with herbs and spices for a flavorful appetizer or snack.

Cook with it: Use extra virgin olive oil for sautéing vegetables, frying eggs, or grilling meats for added flavor and nutritional benefits.

Finish Dishes: Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to finished dishes, such as soups, pasta, or grilled fish, to enhance flavors and textures.

Blend into Smoothies: Incorporate a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil into fruit or vegetable smoothies for a creamy texture and added nutritional boost.

At D’Olivo we offer a variety of flavored and ultra-premium olive oils and balsamic vinegars that pair well together which means you can try a variety of combinations to find just the right burst of flavors for you. With the numerous combinations available you’ll never get bored of exploring and experimenting in your culinary adventures.

Extra virgin olive oil is indeed good for you, thanks to its abundance of healthy fats, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties. Regular consumption of high-quality EVOO as part of a balanced diet has been linked to numerous health benefits, including improved heart health, brain function, and weight management. By incorporating extra virgin olive oil into your daily cooking and meal preparation, you can reap the nutritional rewards and savor the rich flavors of this delicious oil.

A Guide to Understanding Olive Oil

It’s no secret that at D’Olivo we’re crazy about olive oil. This beautiful cooking oil is perfect for use in any kitchen on nearly any type of dish. It’s got a wonderful flavor and to top it all off it offers amazing health benefits.

While we could talk for hours about all the great things you can do to make olive oil your new go-to oil we decided to hit the basics and touch on the top things to know to help our readers gain a better understanding of olive oil.

What is Olive Oil

Olive oil is an oil that comes from olive. There are a number of ways this oil can be harvested and each method gives an indication of the specific type of olive oil that will be produced.

Types of Olive Oil

Extra Virgin Olive Oil – this is by far the purest, and highest quality of olive oil available on the market. Extra virgin olive oils are oils that are produced from the first cold pressing of the olives. This method ensures that the health benefits from the olives remains and that the oil itself isn’t damaged by exposure to high temperatures. This method of extraction also helps keep the acidity level of the oil very low.

Virgin Olive Oil – this type of oil is also extracted using a cold-press method. However, it’s not always from the first cold pressing. While it too is not damaged by exposure to heat during extraction, the acidity levels are higher making it a lower quality oil than those that fall into the extra virgin category.

Refined Olive Oils – these types of oils are not as pure as either extra virgin or virgin, despite what the label might indicated. In fact, many of these refined olive oils are bland in flavor and as a result are usually blended with other types of oils.

Health Benefits

Olive oil has continued to rise in popularity internationally over the last several years. This is due in large part to its rich flavors, versatility in cooking and baking, as well as the nutritional and health benefits that it offers. Some of these health benefits include:

1. Rich in Healthy Fats
2. It Can Help Lower Blood Pressure
3. Packed with Beneficial Antioxidants
4. Helps Maintain Bone Health
5. Helps Prevent Obesity

How to Use Olive Oil

Olive Oil is extremely versatile and can be used as a replacement for many different kinds of cooking fats from butter to vegetable oil. While there are many who claim that olive oil isn’t a good alternative due to its low smoke point, this is simply a myth about olive oil. In fact, high quality extra virgin olive oils are very safe to cook with, even at high temperatures.

Grilling – if you’re a grill-master then olive oil can be a great companion for your cooking adventures. Use it as a marinade for meat, brush it onto the vegetables you’re cooking, or simply top of your dishes at the end with a delicious olive oil.

Baking – it’s true that olive oil can make a great substitute for butter or vegetable oil when creating any baked good. We’ve got an excellent guide on how best to use olive oil in baking here – https://dolivotastingbar.com/baking-with-olive-oil/

Salad Dressing – our olive oils make the best salad dressings, especially when paired with our balsamic vinegars. There are dozens of combinations you can make that will provide fantastic flavor combinations.

Finishing Oils – finish off any dish, hot or cold, with an olive oil drizzle. Choose from a fused or infused flavored oil or try one of our traditional ultra-premium extra virgin oils for this.

Choosing an Olive Oil

Due to its popularity, olive oil has become susceptible to fraud. This is why it’s important that when you go to choose an olive oil you make sure that you’re getting a high quality one.

Read the Label

Because olive oil is an edible product you want to be sure that you’re getting the freshest olive oil out there. Check the label for harvest date or an expiration date. If you find this information, make sure you don’t buy an oil that’s more than a year old. Also, look for that extra virgin designation.

Taste

The surest way to tell if you’ve got a good olive oil is to taste it. The oil should taste clean, fresh and green like olives. If there are peppery notes that linger in your throat that is a good sign – it’s the polyphenols in the oil that give those notes to the oil.

Buy from a Trusted Retailer

Designated olive oil retailers like D’Olivo are the best place to buy quality olive oils. First, we source from the highly reputable supplier, Veronica Foods, who maintains the strictest quality standards which is what gives our oils the Ultra-Premium designation. Second, our employees are well-trained in the proper storage and packaging of our oils ensuring that customers don’t go home with an expired or tainted product. Finally, you can visit stores like ours to actually sample the olive oils you’re purchasing. You can pair oils with our delicious balsamic vinegars and make sure you’re taking home the products that will provide the most benefit to you in the kitchen.

9 Things You Didn’t Know About Olive Oil

It’s all too easy to take olive oil for granted. Even though most people know that olive oil is more healthy than other alternatives (such as canola or vegetable oil), it’s still rarely viewed as more than a cooking ingredient.

Here at D’Olivo, we’ve made it our life mission to open the eyes of all we come in contact with and introduce them to the holistic (and delicious) world of olive oil. Think you know a lot about olive oil? We’re about to test your knowledge with 10 fun facts (some of which we didn’t even know!)

1. 11 Pounds of Olives = 1 Quart of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

You read that correctly – 11 POUNDS of freshly picked olives are needed to produce just one quart (32 ounces) of extra virgin olive oil. To further put that into perspective, most mature olive trees will only produce 33-44 pounds of olives each growing season.

That means each tree is only capable of producing between 3-4 quarts of extra virgin olive oil every year. This is one of the reasons EVOO fetches a higher price tag than other olive variants such as “light” or “pure”.

Because extra virgin olive oil is only made using oil obtained from the first press, growers can only produce so much each year.

2. The Average Olive Tree Lives For 300-600 Years

Since we were on the topic of olive trees, we figured we’d share the impressive life span these rather normal looking trees boast. Depending on where you get your olive oil from and the brand you buy, you could potentially be consuming olive oil from a tree that’s been around for 5+ generations!

It’s also worth noting that olive trees take years before they even begin producing fruit that can be used to make olive oil. Depending on the type of tree being grown, olive farmers may have to wait for as little as 3 years or as long as 12 years before they can use the fruit.

3. Flavor Directly Relates to Antioxidant Content

Have you ever tasted olive oil that was particularly….olive-y in flavor? If so, there’s a good chance it was extra virgin olive oil. As with many foods and ingredients in the culinary world, olives retain more flavor when they’re processed less.

Another added benefit of minimal processing is a higher concentration of beneficial properties – namely, antioxidants. In addition to being extremely healthy, antioxidants lend a distinctive bitterness to olive oil, which can be used to help distinguish between higher quality oils.

4. Olive Oil Lowers LDL & Raises HDL Cholesterol

When most people hear the word cholesterol, they automatically think it’s bad. This is only true when referring to LDL cholesterol (low density lipoprotein). When you have too much LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream, you enter a higher risk of developing a harmful buildup of plaque in the arteries.

On the other hand, HDL cholesterol (high density lipoprotein) is good for you since it helps eliminate LDL cholesterol. Incorporating olive oil in your diet on a regular basis can help ensure your cholesterol profile remains healthy.

5. Greeks Consume 5.5 Gallons of Olive Oil Each Year

Coming out to just under a quarter cup of olive oil each day, Greeks easily top the chart when it comes to olive oil consumption. By comparison, the average US citizen consumes only ⅓ of a gallon of olive oil each year.

Even though that may seem like a lot of oil to consume in a single year, research has time and time again found Greeks to be some of the healthiest people on the planet. This is why the Mediterranean diet has become such a popular staple.

6. Olive Oil Has Anti-Cancer Properties

Because olive oil has been shown to be so beneficial in many areas of health, some may not be surprised to learn that it also has anti-cancer properties. In fact, olive oil has been found to have numerous anti-cancer agents, most of which come in the form of antioxidants.

Researchers became interested in olive oil relating to cancer when they discovered that populations largely sticking to the Mediterranean diet have some of the lowest instances of cancer on the planet.

7. Olive Oil Can Extend the Shelf Life of Baked Goods

Have you ever baked a large batch of cookies, muffins, or even bread only to find that the majority has gone bad before you eat it? As it turns out, by simply replacing butter or margarine in your baking recipes, you can dramatically increase the shelf life of your baked goods.

The vitamin E rich nature of olive oil helps to preserve freshness so you can enjoy your tasty muffins long after they’ve come out of the oven. However, because olive oil carries a stronger taste than butter, we recommend using only half the suggested amount.

8. Olive Oil May Help Lower Your Blood Pressure

Once again, those who regularly follow the Mediterranean diet also display some of the lowest instances of high blood pressure. Though research has yet to find any definitive reason for the link between olive oil consumption and low blood pressure, tens of thousands around the world have enjoyed this healing benefit.

In fact, some patients that have high blood pressure are able to reduce the number of medications they take by simply adding olive oil to their diets.

9. Green and Black Olives Are Actually The Same
The only difference between green and black olives is the level of ripeness when they’re harvested. Green olives are harvested early on so that they keep their signature green coat, while black olives are left on the tree for a longer period of time.

As an olive ripens, it begins to lose its green color and takes on a spectrum ranging from dark purple to black depending on when the farmer chooses to harvest. All of that being said, there is a difference in taste between green and black olives.

Green olives tend to be a little more on the bitter side while black olives contain more oil and less salt.

3 Ways to Get More Olive Oil in Your Diet

When it comes to making dietary changes, the first thing that comes to mind for most is eliminating those tasty “cheat” meals we all love so much. Thankfully, that’s not what we’re here to talk about. Instead, this article is going to explore some creative ways you can make your meals both tastier and healthier.

Have you guessed how yet? That’s right – olive oil!

So, if you’re ready to enjoy the countless benefits and tantalizing culinary possibilities this natural miracle ingredient has to offer, let’s dive in.

Why Olive Oil is Important

Believe it or not, olive oil has been around for as long as 4,000 years, tracing all the way back to the time of the ancient Egyptians. Though commonly associated with dishes and snacks coming from the Mediterranean region, olive oil can be found growing all over the world. In fact, olive oil is considered by many to be the healthiest fat on earth, being commonly found as a dietary staple in some of the world’s healthiest populations.

The most beneficial type of olive oil that you can buy is extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). Extracted using natural methods, extra virgin olive oil retains almost all of its beneficial properties when compared to lesser grades. Packed with antioxidants, omega fatty acids, vitamins, and monounsaturated fats, EVOO provides countless health benefits.

However, it’s important to note that not all EVOO is truly extra virgin. You can read more about fake olive oil and how to avoid it in this article.

Below, we’ve covered just a few of the many health benefits olive oil can provide when introduced as a dietary staple.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Between the antioxidants and beneficial fatty acids, extra virgin olive oil has been found to combat chronic inflammation – a leading cause of a variety of diseases.

Protection Against Cardiovascular Disease
Ranked as the most common cause of death in the world, EVOO has been shown to benefit the cardiovascular system by protecting HDL cholesterol (the good guys), lowering blood pressure, and preventing blood clotting.

Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention
As the world’s most common neurodegenerative disease, extra virgin olive oil has shown promising evidence in support of Alzheimer’s prevention.

3 Ways to Get More Olive Oil in Your Diet

1. Incorporate Olive Oil Into Your Cooking & Baking

Butter Substitute
One of the easiest ways to incorporate more healthy extra virgin olive oil into your diet is by using it in place of butter. As much as we all love butter, when consumed in excess, the high concentration of saturated fats can raise your cholesterol levels.

While it may seem a bit strange at first to add a dash of EVOO to your toast rather than spreading a teaspoon of butter, you’ll quickly find that it’s just as delicious. Even better, you can experiment with any number of the flavored olive oils we carry here at D’Olivo to come up with some exciting “spreads”.

Frying & Roasting
Another way you can supplement olive oil for butter in your everyday cooking is by using it to saute or pan fry various foods. Whether it be vegetables or panko crusted chicken, olive oil is a tasty alternative that can get the job done just as effectively.

Baking
Lastly, you can even use olive oil for baking. That’s right, instead of using that half cup of butter to bake a cake, you can supplement with a few tablespoons of olive oil for a much healthier alternative. In addition, baking with olive oil can dramatically increase the shelf life and freshness of your baked goods thanks to vitamin E.

2. Make Your Own Salad Dressing

If you find yourself to be the DIY kind of person, you’ll feel right at home with this tip. If not, don’t worry! You’ll be surprised to learn just how easy it is to make your own salad dressing from scratch at home.

When it comes to salad dressing, many of the store-bought options are jam-packed with additives and preservatives. Rather than settling for that overpriced bottle of balsamic vinaigrette because it’s convenient, all you need is a few fresh ingredients to make your own.

To get started, all you need is balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, minced garlic, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper – that’s it! While each recipe will recommend varying amounts of each ingredient, over time, you’ll figure out the perfect balance that best suits your personal taste.

Not only will it taste much better than any store-bought balsamic vinaigrette, but you’ll also be incorporating more EVOO into your diet without even realizing it.

3. Use Olive Oil as a Topping

Have you ever made a dish that seems to be missing something that you can’t quite pinpoint? Olive oil serves as a great finishing oil on a variety of different cuisines and snack foods. Simply grab your favorite bottle of extra virgin olive oil and drizzle a light coat over whatever you’re eating to instantly create a flavor explosion.

This works particularly well with foods like grilled or roasted vegetables, pizza, seafood, mashed potatoes, salads, and artisanal bread. Once you realize how versatile olive oil is as a topping, you’ll soon find yourself experimenting with flavored oils that bring your favorite dishes into a whole new realm of deliciousness.

The One-Stop Olive Oil Shop

So, are you feeling excited and ready to flex those culinary muscles? By now, you should be well equipped with a handful of creative ways to incorporate more healthy olive oil into your diet. The next step is stocking your kitchen with a bottle or two of high-quality extra virgin olive oil so you can start tasting your way to a healthier diet.

Here at D’Olivo, we proudly carry more than 30 traditional and flavored ultra-premium extra virgin olive oils so you can let your taste buds run wild. By carefully sourcing all of our olive oil from Veronica Foods, we ensure nothing but the highest quality products make it to our shelves and ultimately, your kitchen.

Stop by our Walla Walla location or shop online to start trying out some of many ways you can use olive oil in cooking!

The Truth About Cooking With Olive Oil

Cooking oil has been around for thousands of years, tracing all the way back to when man first discovered fire. Whether used as a simple salad dressing or for adding some crunchy goodness to your favorite cuisines, cooking oil has become a kitchen staple. Now, as great as oils are for adding some culinary diversity to your diet, if you’re not using the right kind, you can actually end up doing your body more harm than good.

Without knowing why certain oils are better for you than others, a simple trip to the grocery store can quickly become a scavenger hunt for the product that provides you with the best value. In this article, we’re going to explore in-depth the many health benefits of cooking with olive oil as opposed to other popular alternatives such as canola and soybean oil.

Dangers of Cooking With the Wrong Oil

Though many cooking oils can appear to look the same, the important differentiator is their fat content. While we will go more into detail in the next section, the types of fat molecules that an oil consists of will ultimately affect its stability and heat resistance. This is why different oils start to smoke at different temperatures, also known as their smoke point.

When fats and oils are exposed to heat, their molecular structure can actually become damaged and lead to the creation of harmful compounds like aldehydes and lipid peroxides, both of which have been linked to cancer development. This is most commonly observed in vegetable oils like canola and soybean due to their high concentration of polyunsaturated fats.

Furthermore, when oils high in polyunsaturated fat become heated to their smoke point, the fats begin to breakdown and vaporize, creating harmful fumes that have been shown to contribute to the development of lung cancer.

Understanding the Different Types of Fat

Saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated are the three types of fat that can be found in cooking oils. Depending on the kind of cooking oil you buy, the concentrations of each will vary. The important differentiator between the three is the existence of double bonds which are susceptible to heat, serving as the precursors to many of the carcinogenic compounds formed during the cooking process.

Saturated fats (coconut oil) have zero double bonds, monounsaturated fats (olive oil) have just one double bond, and polyunsaturated fats (vegetable oil) have multiple double bonds. The breakdown occurs during the cooking process when heat causes double bonds to react with oxygen. However, even though monounsaturated fats possess a double bond, studies have actually found that they’re resistant to heat-induced degradation as opposed to polyunsaturated fats which have the highest rates of oxidation when cooked with.

Why Olive Oil is the Best to Cook With

Even though saturated fats offer the best resistance to oxidation due to their lack of double bonds, high intake of this kind of fat has been shown to increase your risk of heart disease or stroke. Olive oil, extra virgin in particular, is well-known for being healthier than other cooking oil alternatives due to its high concentration of monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. In fact, one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil on average consists of 75% monounsaturated fat, 13% saturated fat, and just 12% polyunsaturated fat.

Extra virgin olive oil is obtained from the first press of olives, allowing it to retain many of the natural bioactive compounds and antioxidants. It’s the antioxidant rich nature of extra virgin olive oil that allows it to protect itself, as well as your body once consumed, from oxidative damage during the cooking process.

To further support this claim, a study was conducted with various cooking oils to observe the level of oxidation each undergoes when exposed to deep frying temperatures. After 24 hours, of all the oils tested, extra virgin olive oil was found to resist oxidation the most, surprisingly retaining the majority of its beneficial properties.

Different Olive Oil Cooking Methods

While extra virgin olive oil is the best of the cooking oils, its health benefits can vary depending on the cooking method you use.

Deep Frying

Surprisingly, deep frying is the method of cooking that allows olive oil to retain the highest levels of bioactive compounds and beneficial properties, even after multiple rounds of use. Generally, you want to keep fried foods to a minimum, but if you’re going to indulge, olive oil is the way to go. Thanks to the abundance of antioxidants in olive oil, it’s been found that deep fried foods actually become enriched with the oil’s phenols.

Pan Frying

Pan frying is by far one of the most popular cooking methods in which oils are used. Though the olive oil does not retain as many of its beneficial properties as it would if used for deep frying (likely due to an oxygen rich atmosphere), it still is shown to degrade the slowest of all the oils and enrich cooked foods with antioxidants.

Roasting

Roasting is another popular cooking method in which oil can be used to help give food a deliciously crisp crust. Of the oils you can cook with, once again, extra virgin olive oil has been found to resist oxidation the best due to its tocopherol concentration.

Closing Words

Hopefully, by now, you should be a cooking oil expert! Whether you’ve been using olive oil for years or you’re finally deciding to make the switch, it’s never too late to begin reaping the numerous health benefits this powerful natural product has to offer.

At D’Olivo, we understand the numerous health benefits of olive oil, which is why we’re so passionate about spreading its holistic (and delicious) properties to as many people as we can. If you haven’t already, take a look at our selection of ultra premium extra virgin olive oils and begin cooking the healthy way!