Calories In Olive Oil
Olive oil retains the natural aroma, flavor and nutritional properties of olives. Freshly pressed from the fruit, olive oil is the only vegetable oil which can be consumed in its original form. Olive oil is available in different forms, depending on the level of processing involved. The four varieties of olive oil are extra virgin, virgin, pure and extra light. The unadulterated form of olive oil, extra virgin olive oil is the most expensive and supremely refined form of the oil with low acidity.
Virgin olive oil is derived from the least amount of processing and has about 2% oleic acid. Pure olive oil is obtained after some filtration and refining. Extra light olive oil undergoes quite a lot of processing and has only a hint of olive flavor.
Nutrition And Calories In Olive Oil
One tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil contains
- monounsaturated fat: 10grams
- polyunsaturated fat: 2grams
- Saturated fat: 2 grams
Olive oil contains a significant concentration of oleic acid, a type of monounsaturated fat. The percentage of oleic acid in olive oil ranges between 55 to 85 percent, depending on the type of olives used and also the soil in which they were grown. Olive oil also contains alpha-linolenic acid and linoleic acid, both of which are omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids respectively. In addition, olive oil contains considerable amounts of vitamin E and phenols.
Health Benefits Of Olive Oil
Olive oil has the following health benefits;
- Apart from its immune-boosting properties, olive oil is also known to reduce the risk of cancer. The oil contains oleocanthal, a phytonutrient which helps to relieve inflammation and which also lowers the risk of breast cancer. It also helps to prevent the recurrence of cancer. Two other substances found in olive, squalene and lignans, are also believed to play a role in cancer prevention.
- Olive oil contains a high concentration of monounsaturated fats. These are beneficial fats which reduce the risk of heart disease by bringing down the levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol in the body.
- Various studies have revealed the beneficial effects of olive oil on the digestive tract. People who regularly consume olive oil are at a lower risk of cancers of the upper digestive tract. These effects may be attributed to the concentration of polyphenols and their anti-inflammatory properties.
- A recent study has indicated that olive oil may help to improve bone strength in post-menopausal women.
- Olive oil may help to improve cognitive function. Some researchers found that regular intake of olive oil may help to enhance memory.
- Due to its content of vitamin E, olive oil may help to prevent premature ageing.
Buying And Storing Olive Oil
It is advisable to buy olive oil in smaller quantities since the oil ages and undergoes oxidation. If you do need to buy larger amounts of the oil, pour it into separate containers and seal them tightly. To reduce oxidation due to exposure to heat, light and air, keep olive oil in a dark glass bottle. You can also store the oil in a stainless steel container. Avoid keeping olive oil in plastic bottles as the oil can react with the plastic and acquire some of its properties. Bottles of olive oil should always be kept in cool, dark and dry places.
Uses Of Olive Oil
Olive oil can be used in the following ways;
- Cooking - Olive oil serves as a health replacement for regular cooking oil. You can also use olive oil in recipes which usually require butter. Another way to enjoy the nutritional benefits is to add the oil to salads, baked foods and dips.
- Skin care – Olive oil is highly beneficial for the skin due to its moisturizing properties. The oil may be applied to the skin after a bath or shower or used as a hand lotion during cold weather. It can also be used to remove make-up from the face. You can even add some olive oil to bath water.
- Hair care - Olive oil is one of the best oils to use for a scalp massage. You can warm the oil slightly and then rub into the scalp. It keeps the hair soft and lustrous. The oil can also be used to tame unruly or flyaway hair.
- Nail care - Rubbing olive oil into the nail cuticles helps to keep them strong and smooth.
- Lip care - Olive oil serves as a beneficial natural substitute for chap sticks and lip balms. Smooth a small quantity of the oil over the lips to alleviate dryness and cracking.
There are very few side effects of olive oil and most of these are quite rare. Some people may suffer an allergic reaction when the oil is applied externally. Ingestion of large amounts of the oil may lead to diarrhea.