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.