Extra virgin olive oil is light. One liter weighs just 917 grams. It contains no carbohydrates or proteins. There are traces of iron and small amounts of vitamin A, as well as interesting amounts of vitamin E, about 22 mll per liter. Lipids make up 99.9% of the weight of the oil and give a caloric intake of 890 kcal. A tablespoon typically contains about 13 g of oil, almost 120 kcal.
The oil is extracted from the fruit and the fruits are the main sources of antioxidants. The presence of these substances makes the oil resistant to peroxidation processes that affect other vegetable oils, rich in unsaturated fats and therefore easily degradable.
The main component of olive oil is oleuropein, which gives that characteristic bitter taste but also has many healthy properties. The color of the oil is due to the presence of carotenoids and chlorophylls, the quantity of which depends on the variety, ripeness, method of extraction and storage. The density depends on the territory of origin.
Oleic acid is a fat that is less prone to oxidation than the polyunsaturates found in other vegetable oils.
Leuripein and its constituents, hydroxytyrosol and elenolic acid, inhibit the formation of atherosclerotic plaque and reduce the inflammatory state that favors the accumulation with an action that manifests itself not only at the metabolic level but also at the level of the genome. These substances contribute to an improvement in lipid metabolism, reduction of triglycerides, total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.
Regular consumption of EVO oil is protective against some types of cancer: colon, breast, skin. This effect is probably due to the antioxidant action of the various phenolic compounds and the ability of oleuropein to reduce the formation of new vessels (essential for tumor growth).
EVO oil also has antidiabetic effects because it reduces the absorption and digestion of carbohydrates in the intestine, lowers blood glucose, modifies the expression of genes involved in thermoregulation and lipid synthesis, increases insulin sensitivity and defends pancreatic cells from oxidative damage, protects the liver.
Recent studies ( Rigacci, S. et al “Olive Oli Phenols as Promising Multi – targeting Agents Against Alzheimer’s Disease” , Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology ( 2015, 863, pg 1 -20) show that polyphenols present in EVO oil can reduce the formation of amyloid aggregates in various cell types, acting against age- and lifestyle-associated neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Oleuropein and oleocanthal contribute to maintain stability and functionality of proteins and promote the elimination of aged or non-functioning ones, maintain and improve the functionality of stem cells, together with vitamin E contributing to the reduction of oxidative damage to mitochondrial DNA and cell membranes.
Prefer extra virgin olive oil whose acidity by law must be less than 0.8% the number of peroxides below 20 mEq/kg obtained by cold pressing, with temperatures below 27 degrees Celsius that preserve the organoleptic characteristics and nutritional properties. The content of polyphenols, not always indicated, must be higher than 250 mg/kg.
The best way to enjoy oil is to add it as a raw condiment.
Evo oil can be used to prepare marinades for fish, meat or to season food while cooking. The use of Evo oil is also possible for frying. Extra virgin oil has a smoke point from 207 to 210 degrees Celsius. This is the temperature where the processes of degradation begin with the formation of toxic substances, Studies show that frying with EVO oil at a temperature around 180 degrees C for periods of time not exceeding sixty, ninety minutes, leads to a lower formation of toxic products. It can, therefore, be used but not at very high temperatures and for a short period of time, better for immersion frying than pan frying.