Buying Infused Olive Oil for Healthy Diet
Olive oil is often used as the base of great tasting salads, sauces,
and meat marinades. Italians love to dip their breads in infused olive
oil or drizzle it on pizzas and dishes shortly before serving them.
Getting the right olive oil for cooking and eating is not as simple.
You need to consider the following factors:
Pure or virgin oil
Not all olive oils are the same. The highest quality olive oil you can
get is known as extra virgin oil which is extracted from carefully
handpicked fruits within 48 hours from harvest. Chemicals are not used
and high temperatures are not applied during the extraction to retain
the health-giving properties and natural flavour of the fruit. Oil
obtained immediately after harvest and extracted without the use of
chemicals or high heat is known as extra virgin oil while all other
extractions and over processed oil are marketed as “pure” or “light”.
“Light” does not refer to the fat content like most food
products but instead indicates a lighter oil colour as a result of
Country of origin
Olive oil is produced worldwide using various kinds of olives, which
are mostly Mediterranean in origin. Some producers, however,
reportedly use chemicals or high temperatures during extraction so
that the oil produced no longer has the healthy nutrients that virgin
oil is known for. This practice of labeling lower quality oil as
“extra virgin” goes unsanctioned due to the absence of an
official body which can test the products before certifying these as
In Tuscany, industry associations impose strict standards for
fruit selection and processing before allowing them to label their
products as `extra virgin’. The oil products go through taste and
chemical tests to confirm their high quality.
Why extra virgin oil?
The distinctive flavour of the oil comes from the polyphenols or plant
compounds found in extra virgin oil. Heat and chemicals used in the
extraction destroys these compounds resulting in the loss of natural
fruity flavour. Aside from losing the flavour of oil, over processing
cancels out the many health benefits associated with it. These include
* Anti inflammatory: polyphenols protect the plant against damage
and work as well to protect cells in the human body. A study
confirmed how the polyphenols found in the oil can help those
suffering from oxidative stress, a leading cause of degenerative
diseases including cancer.
* Good for the heart: virgin oil contains high levels of
monounsaturated fat, a good fat, which reduces bad cholesterol
levels, prevents hypertension and coronary heart disease.
When choosing infused olive oil in delis and gourmet stores for your
cooking needs, buy only from a reputable source that is certified
according to industry standards.