Good quality olive oil has a peppery bite, a mildly bitter aftertaste and can make salad sing when married to balsamic vinegar. The unique taste of olive oil is due to the presence of polyphenols.
Polyphenols are naturally occurring compounds found in plant based foods, including tea, cocoa, vegetables, fruits, and olive oil. Some polyphenols work as antioxidants, which means they neutralize harmful free radicals that potentially damage the body's cells, leading to conditions like heart disease, cancer, and cognitive decline.
Studies show that polyphenols help fight inflammation and may help lower the risk of several diseases such as heart disease, some types of cancer, and Alzheimers.
Olive oil contains at least 30 different pheolic compounds including oleacein, tyrosol and hydroxytyrosol. By definition, high phenolic olive oil contains at least 250 mg polyphenols per kilogram of oil. So, not all olive oils are high in polyphenols -- it depends how the oils are processed and stored.
In Europe, bottles of high-polyphenol olive oil can bear the health claim "olive oil polyphenols contribute to the protection of blood lipids from oxidative stress" as long as it contains at least 5 mg of hydroxytyrosol and its derivatives per 20 g of olive oil. There is no similar health claim in NZ, but of course the health benefits would be the same.
One well-known benefit of olive oil is its high proportion of monounsaturated fat, which has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke. Olive oil is about 98 percent fat, but that remaining two percent is made up of polyphenols and other minor constituents that lend to olive oil's health benefits.
Many studies have looked at the health benefits of good-quality, high-polyphenol olive oil in conjunction with the Mediterranean diet. That's an eating plan that includes lots of vegetables and fruit, cuts back on meat and sweets, and relies on olive oil as the main source of dietary fat. Studies show that regularly using extra virgin olive oil as part of the Mediterranean diet is associated with a reduced risk of developing several diseases -- including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer.
A recent review of 26 studies comparing the beneficial effects of low- vs. high-polyphenol olive oil found that the high-polyphenol oil was superior for protecting heart health, blood pressure and inflammation. But here's the thing -- not all olive oils are high in polyphenols. Some bottles will we labelled with phenolic content, but that's a rare find outside Europe or specialty olive oil shops. If the bottle is labelled, look for one with a phenolic content of 250 mg/kg or more.
Like fine wine, high-polyphenol olive oil is expensive -- starting at about $30 per 500 mL bottle. So, that $10 bottle of grocery store olive oil is not going to be high in polyphenols. If you cannot find olive oil that's labelled with phenolic content, here are some tips for sourcing high-polyphenol olive oil from reputable dealers:
Once home, keep the olive oil bottle away from heat and light. Store it away from the stove top, preferably in a cool, dark spot -- and yes, you can keep olive oil in the fridge. Once the bottle of olive oil is opened, consume it within a few months.
And yes, you can cook with Extra Virgin Olive Oil at medium stove-top heat without destroying the polyphenols.
Check out Busting the Myth and Video that explains this.
a widely held but false belief or idea.
We find them everywhere. They spring up out of nowhere and take a life of their own. Mostly the source of where it began is never found. Social media perpetuates them and before long, the majority of people believe it to be true, and it gets harder and harder to cut through to the actual truth. Cue the latest research!
There’s a widely held but false belief that Olive Oil is unsafe to cook with, that it breaks down and produces compounds that may be detrimental to health. I hear it from people all the time. IT IS NOT TRUE, and it’s one of those myths that do the rounds all the time.
The latest research out has found that Extra Virgin Olive Oil is one of the most stable and safest oils for cooking with. Australian researchers compared the effects of heating extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and an array of other common cooking oils and found EVOO to be the safest and most stable even when used at high temperatures. The investigation also dispelled several erroneous beliefs associated with cooking oils.
You can check out the research yourself here
But in a nutshell, it was found that EVOO produced the lowest amount of harmful substances when heated, yet other refined oils such as Canola, Peanut, or Coconut oils produced much more. The study also used much higher temperatures than those used in common cooking. This research provides unequivocal and definitive evidence that should finally dispel this myth. It shows that extra virgin olive oil is not only safe during heating at regular cooking temperatures, but is the desirable cooking oil when compared with others. The production of potentially harmful polar compounds and trans-fats was markedly lower in EVOO.
In yet another study:
“Compared with seed oils, EVOO is preferable for frying, especially in home cooking (IOC). Under proper temperature conditions, without overheating, it undergoes no substantial changes and its performance is usually equal or superior to refined vegetable oils, due to its balanced composition regarding both major and minor components (Santos and others 2013).”
Frying in extra virgin olive oil provides the potential for preventing cardiovascular diseases as indicated by the lowering of atherogenic and thrombogenic indices in fish and vegetables pan‐fried in EVOO. In addition, when EVOO is used for frying, several health promoting microconstituents like phenolics, tocopherols, phytosterols, squalene, and terpenic acids, enrich the fried food and become part of our diet.
So – next time you are doing a stir-fry or roast, grab your bottle of Isobel Olives Extra Virgin Olive Oil and apply generously. You’ll be doing your health a very big favour! To purchase your bottle - click here!
Below is a short video with the important points of the research. - Exploding the Myth.
The Mediterranean diet has recently become very popular with medical researchers. It includes vegetables, and grains and not so much meat, and generous portions of olive oil. The evidence that olive oil is good for your heart has never been more clear. Mary Flynn, an associate professor of medicine at Brown University considers it more medicine than food.
A big study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, had men and women in their 50s, 60s and 70s who were at risk of heart disease follow one of three diets. Some ate low-fat, another group ate Mediterranean diet with nuts and a third group ate a Mediterranean diet that included almost four tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil a day.
The researchers found that the Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes by 30 percent.
Olive oil is good for two reasons - it’s mostly unsaturated fat, and extra virgin oil which is the highest grade and least processed contains a whole range of other beneficial plant compounds called polyphenols.
Many Olive oils imported into NZ and in our supermarket shelves are too old. It’s often been shipped from place to place and sometimes not stored well, which means many of the heart-healthy compounds have degraded and fizzled.
So where can you get your hands on the healthy stuff?
Look for brands that carry a harvest date on the bottle. Isobel Olives includes the date that the olives were harvested to produce the oil on the label, and the olives were pressed very quickly so the oil is fresh.
The most important thing to remember is that EVOO is not wine and it does not get better with age. However, as long as the olive oil is properly stored the freshness will hold in the bottle for two years. As soon as you open the bottle and expose the oil to oxygen and light, it will slowly start to degrade.
Oils with the highest level of heart-healthy compounds tend to be pungent and peppery. If the oil stings the back of your throat a little that tells you the beneficial polyphenols are really there.
So grab a bottle of Isobel Olives Olive Oil from the Farmers market this week or contact me today, and start protecting your heart.
Wondering about how to buy extra virgin olive oil? We can tell you all about making olive oil, how it was produced locally at the Marlborough olive press and even recipes for cooking!
Just ask for Chris!
See you this Sunday.
Fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil