Is virgin olive oil best?
For olive oil to be considered “virgin” or “extra-virgin,” there can be no chemicals or alternative methods used in the extraction process. Virgin oils are achieved through the pressing process where the oil is literally pressed from the olive. In the United States, the labeling of olive oil is not strictly regulated, and chemically extracted oil has been sold as “virgin.” When chemicals are used to remove the oil, many of the antioxidants and other powerful nutrients are destroyed.
True virgin olive oil has an abundance of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. It has been used for centuries for its anti-inflammatory properties. Because it is derived directly from the fruit of the plant, it also helps with digestion. The more processing the oil is subjected too, the less nutrients and benefits it offers.
Olives have extremely large amounts of monounsaturated fats, or MUFAs. MUFAs are considered the good fats and are one of the main staples in the Mediterranean diet. MUFAs support good heart health, help reduce cholesterol levels and stabilize blood sugar by controlling insulin.
Olives are high in calories, and many doctors encourage using them in moderation. For cooking, olive oil is known for adding flavor without making foods overly greasy. It breaks down easily and can actually improve the overall texture of pasta. Unlike other oils, extra-virgin oil that is used in cooking does not lose its beneficial properties the way other oils do when they are heated.
Olive oil is universal. It is one of the most naturally balanced oils in existence. Not only can it be used in cooking, but it has a variety of other uses as well. Olive oil contains polyphenols that act as anti-inflammatory agents, reducing inflammation and carrying toxins out of the body. Polyphenols are also key supporters of bone and digestive health, providing nutrients that are easily assimilated through the digestive system.
Olive oil can also be used as a topical agent. Found in many makeups, lotions and beauty products, olive oil is absorbed easily into the skin. It also has gained popularity as an effective lubricant for massage therapy. The nutrients are absorbed directly into the skin, moisturizing and nourishing the body from the outside in. Unlike heavier oils, olive oil does not leave skin feeling greasy or covered in residue. Instead, its emollients keep skin feeling smooth and helps it retain its elasticity.