Written By Lewis Robinson / Reviewed By Ray Spotts
Fat is an essential nutrient, and when it comes to cooking, it's also an essential ingredient in many recipes. The type of fat you use can make a big difference in the flavor and nutritional value of your dish. Olive oil has many qualities that make it a great choice for cooking.
While some cooking oils have little to no taste, high-quality olive oil has a distinctive aroma and flavor that many describe as fresh and fruity with a spicy or peppery aftertaste. Olive oil is available in three types: virgin, extra virgin, and light.
Virgin olive oil is so named because it does not undergo any heat or chemical processing. Virgin olive oil is dark and flavorful. The highest-quality virgin olive oil is referred to as extra virgin olive oil, and it is the most expensive variety.
Light olive oil is pressed from fresh olives and then refined using heat. It is light in color and flavor and is the most inexpensive variety of olive oil. Although it is considered to be of lesser quality than virgin or extra virgin olive oil, some people prefer it because of its affordability, lighter flavor and longer shelf life.
When choosing an oil to add flavor to a dish, it's hard to beat the variety of olive oil options available. If you want to explore the many flavors of olive oil, consider partaking in an in-person or virtual olive oil tasting experience.
Olive oil is packed with nutrients and monounsaturated fatty acids. Choosing olive oil over an oil with a higher saturated fat content can have significant health benefits.
Monounsaturated fats may help lower LDL cholesterol and improve heart health. There is also some evidence that monounsaturated fats may help control blood sugar and insulin levels.
Olive oil is also a good source of antioxidants. Antioxidants may prevent disease by eliminating free radicals. Free radicals are atoms or molecules that have an unpaired electron; this causes them to react with other chemicals in the body, which can lead to tissue damage.
Antioxidants form bonds with the free radicals before they can cause damage. Getting enough antioxidants in your diet may reduce inflammation and lower the risk of many diseases, including cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants may also improve brain function and help prevent memory loss.
If you are using olive oil for its nutritional benefits, bear in mind that extra virgin olive oil is more nutrient-dense than light olive oil. One of the benefits of olive oil is that it's fairly stable and retains most of its nutrients when heated.
However, some of the vitamins may be slightly diminished by the cooking process. For maximum benefit, look for ways to incorporate the raw oil into your dishes, such as drizzling it over cooked vegetables or using it as a salad dressing.
Some varieties of olive oil can be very expensive. However, because it is so popular and comes in so many varieties, olive oil is often more affordable than other oils of similar quality. It is also easier to find in grocery stores, and it is a popular and versatile option because it is vegan and very few people are allergic to it.
Although a good bottle of extra virgin olive oil may seem pricey, the quality is worth the extra cost. The more robust flavor means that a little goes a long way, and you may even find that you use smaller amounts of other seasonings and spices to let the oil's flavor come through.
To get the best value for your money, you may prefer to keep multiple olive oils in your pantry; have a bottle of light olive oil on hand for cooking and sautéing, and reserve the extra virgin olive oil for sauces, salad dressings and dipping, where the flavor of the oil really counts.
Olive oil is healthy and delicious and offers many benefits over other types of oil. Every cook should have a bottle of good olive oil in the kitchen.
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Lewis Robinson is a freelance writer and expert in health and fitness. When he isn’t writing he can usually be found reading a good book or hitting the gym.
Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at www.rayspotts.com.