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Why Extra Virgin Olive Oil [EVOO] is a better choice of oil

What is EVOO [Extra virgin olive oil]

We all know what is olive and olive oil.  Many of us must have used olive oil in food preparation at some point of time.  However, not many delve in depth to better understand the quality of olive oil and the different grade of olive oil and why olive oil has been known as "liquid gold" in Greece.  Let us start this journey of understanding olive and olive oil. 

Quality of olive oil depends a lot on the varieties, the climate, the weather, the soil composite, the method of harvesting, the period of harvest, transportation of the olive to mill, the preservation during transportation, the mill facility operation conditions.  To get that high quality olive oil which is Extra Virgin Olive Oil [EVOO] all the above play a vital role to produce the best EVOO.  Not one single step is being compromised. 

EVOO, it is the highest quality/grade of olive oil from the freshly pressed olive from the fresh harvest, typically happen between October/November, some varieties harvest can be in February/March.  Freshly milled EVOO is golden-green colour, bitter-spicy taste with fresh cut olive aroma.  It has the lowest acidity (oleic acid) compared to other type of oils, typically at range from 0.3-0.8%/100g.  It has very high anti-oxidants, polyphenols* and trans fats free.  It is always better to choose an oil that has low acidity because our body needs a low acidity level to avoid sickness and other illness. 

To attained EVOO standard, the olive oil must meet numerous chemical parameters and sensory standards. They are unrefined, unaltered, unfiltered oil.  They are first cold extraction, no heat is used.  Therefore, all EVOO are cold-pressed unlike other oil.  EVOO taste fresh and has the flavour of green ripe olives.  Therefore in general, EVOO is the most expensive olive oil because the process to extract that pure oil is painstaking. 

 

Freshly milled EVOO

Besides EVOO, typically in supermarket we will find Virgin olive oil [next best after EVOO], Pure olive oil [mix of virgin and refine olive oil] and Refined olive oil [vitamins, nutrients, taste are all inferior than EVOO and the taste is noticeable].  There are Lampante oil, which is not for consumption, typically use industrial use for oil lamps. 

How to choose EVOO

1. Choose a brand that is from a small producer, to minimise large scale producer that tend to blend with other oil [yes, we all know that big corporation always has the issue of maximising cost over quality];

2. Check the bottle labelling that indicate Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO);

3. World best EVOO always bottled their EVOO with dark-coloured (UV protected) bottled, or tin bottled that does not allow sunlight penetration.  Do not buy EVOO bottled from a plastic bottle that is full of BPAs.  Also, the chlorophyll that gives the oil its green colour is light sensitive, keep them in dark, cool environment;

4. Best to consume a good quality EVOO within 18 months for its freshness and aromatic flavour and always store them in cool and dark place.  EVOO is not wine, you do not keep them, consume them when they are still fresh to get the best benefits;

5. Look out for label indicating the acidity level of the EVOO, typically not more than 0.8%. 

6. If possible, look for labelling showing P.D.O (Protected Designation Origin) or P.G.I (Protected Geographical Indicator).  Both are initiatives by European Union protecting the agriculture and culture of the products.  This is a form of additional endorsement of the quality of the olive oil and protecting the agriculture, preserving the traditional agriculture method and most important, the premium quality standard they have to adhere to under the stringent check by the E.U. 

 7. Most producers will indicate the variety of the olive, eg the most well known and having the best quality is Koroneiki that produce the premium grade EVOO. 

Why Greek EVOO?

Greece and Olive oil

The famous story about goddess Athena competed with the god Poseidon to see who would produce the most impressive gift for human beings.  Poseidon offered sea water [which is salt water] because Poseidon is God of the Sea.  However Athena offer olive tree which bear the fruit of olive, which can be consume as food, squeezed into olive oil, which can be use for cooking, lighting, cosmetics for body, ointment for healing.  Her offer won the heart of the human beings, and city is therefore name after her, Athens.  Therefore, in Greece, olive and olive oil is inseparable. 

In Ancient Greece, olive oil is known as "liquid gold'.  It is not only eaten, it can be used to preserve foods and as a medicine, a body rub, a lubricant, a perfume, in religion ceremony, in churches as olive oil to produce light.  Olive wreaths were awarded as prizes at the Olympic Games. 

Largest exporter of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Many people does not know that for many of the olive oil that you bought from the supermarket, you may have tasted that good quality Greek olive oil for at least once.  Why?  Well, because Greece is the world's largest exporter of Extra Virgin Olive Oil [because 80% of Greek olive oil production is EVOO].  All those that are in the production and marketing of olive oil produce superior quality and excellent Greek olive oil and in most cases, they are Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Also, Greek olive oil has very distinctive taste and aroma because the varieties of the olives in Greece are unique comparing to other countries.  In a lot of cases, they are produced in bulk and export overseas to large commercial oil brands.  Therefore it is common that these olive oil are bottled and blend with other olive oil by these large commercial olive oil brands to bring out the unparalleled taste and aroma of olive oil, taking the advantage of unique taste of Greek olive oil.  These olive oil are then sold domestically and globally in their respective country.  Therefore, it is not surprise that one of those commercial blended olive oil could have been blended with Greek EVOO to bring out that apparent and distinctive aroma and taste.  Therefore, in your next olive oil shopping, do check the labels if the olive oil is extra virgin olive oil, virgin olive oil, olive oil, or blended olive oil.  Be a smart consumer!

P.D.O (Protected Designation Origin) & P.G.I (Protected Geographical Indicator)

P.D.O & P.G.I are initiative by the European Union preserving the culture and agriculture of each region and country.  It represents the excellence European food production.  Strict standards need to be adhered by producers, farmers through audits and random checks.  To have the endorsement of P.D.O and P.G.I, it is a form of re-assurance of the quality of the extra virgin olive oil from the specific region and country.  Currently there are 31 Greek olive oils are labelled PDO and PGI. Your next purchase for European agriculture products, do look out for P.D.O and P.G.I endorsement for that high quality, sustainable products. 

Contain more polyphenols and Oleic acid

Extensive research has shown that Greek olive oil contains more polyphenols.  Polyphenols is an anti-oxidants which can reduce risk of developing a number of health problems including coronary artery disease.  Henceforth, consume EVOO on regular basis help to protects blood lipids from oxidation.  [Health claim - EU 432/2010].  It is associated with increasing cell death of cancer cells and reducing inflammation.  Oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid, also found in extra virgin olive oil, is known to suppress the development of a protein produced by the breast cancer gene Her-2/neu.  Some research also shows that extra virgin olive oil in combination with a healthy lifestyle, may help slow the development of skin cancer. 

Mostly Organic & High quality

In Greece, till today, farmers continue to employ traditional cultivation practices with many cases, almost no use of pesticides.  In recent years, many dangerous pesticide has also been banned and stopped.  At least we are sure that in Greece, majority of the EVOOs has no pesticide residues even the non-organic ones, thanks to the strong believe protecting the olive groves for the next hundred years. 

Harvest are still pretty much done by hand, using of machine is very minimum to maintain the quality of olive and olive oil. You can just imagine the labour spent in hand harvest olives to give you that every drop of high quality olive oil. 

Currently, there are estimate 1,500 olive mills spreading across the country.  Olives start to oxidised after harvest.  Therefore, storage and transportation to the mill has to be as soon as possible, typically is within the same day.  This is critical to ensure the freshly harvest olives are processed within the stipulated time to maintain the high quality.  And all Greek EVOO are cold-pressed giving you that high quality olive oil. 

Greece offers the ultimate biotope for cultivating olive tree.  The country has developed a distinct characteristics that make their olive oil stand out.  The most famous olive is the Koroneiki variety, one of the oldest varieties and also known as queen of oil producing olive trees in Greece which produces exceptional extra virgin olive oil with a fruity, fresh flavour with very low acidity level. 

What are the good benefits of EVOO

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is consider superfood that help to strengthens the body.  Here are some good benefits on regular consumption.

1. Increase good cholesterol & build good immune system

~ rich in vitamin E, mono-unsaturated fats to help to reduce lipid oxidation. High in anti-oxidants to help to reduce bad cholesterol. 
~ because of the high in anti-oxidants, which are not commonly found in other oils.  The anti-oxidant found in olive oil is vital in strengthening and protect our immune system, therefore help to increase the resistance to infections in our body indirectly build a good immune system. 

2. Promote healthy heart & prevent Type 2 diabetes 

~high in phenol, tocopherols, pigments, triolein, squalene, phytosterols etc that help to contribute to healthy heart and increase life expectancy. 
~ prevents cells destruction, protect arteries.  A healthy arteries help and potentially prevent cancer, coronary disease and arteriosclerosis. 
~ high anti-oxidants properties, antimicrobial, anti-diabetic properties help to provide protection against heart disease and also play an important role in preventing or slow the grown to tumours.
~ some research has shown that diets rich in olive oil were 41 percent less likely to suffer a stroke in comparison to those who did not follow olive oil rich diets.

3. Build strong bones for children. prevent osteoporosis 

~ by taking EVOO on regular basis, it help in the central nervous system in the body that is extremely helpful for children to develop a strong bone structure while growing and helps to prevent calcium loses in adults and prevention of osteoporosis. 

4. Anti-inflammation 

~ contains oleocanthal, which is the same anti-inflammatory property of ibuprofen.  

5. Aids digestion

~ helps to increase the production of peptides, which helps in digestions. It is very easily absorb by our body, therefore, helps in the easy absorption of the vitamins and polyphenols. 

6. Promote healthy skin

~ help to promote anti-aging, skin damage, osteoporosis. By applying onto hair and skin to prevent dryness, prevent stretch mark during pregnancy. 
~ contain fats-soluble vitamins A, D, E,K that help to protect against free-radicals, cell oxidation which are normally related to premature ageing. 

7. Weight control 

~ contain full of nutrients the full taste create a sensation of fullness and satisfaction which help to control weight.  

8. Longevity

~ regular consumption can help prevent many diseases and some cancers. Therefore indirectly promote longevity. 

9. Blood pressure

~ research has shown that regular consumption of EVOO help to reduce systolic [pressure in your arteries during the contraction of your heart muscle] and diastolic [heart muscle is between beat] blood pressure.  

10. Reduce the chance of stroke
~ with a good heart, the chance of suffering a stroke will be minimised.
~ some research has shown that diets rich in olive oil were 41 percent less likely to suffer a stroke in comparison to those who did not follow olive oil rich diets.

Olive oil is

‚Äúliquid gold‚ÄĚ ~ by Homer [Greek poet, 12th-8th BC]

‚Äúthe great healer‚ÄĚ ~ by Hippocrates [460-360 BC, Father of Medicine]

Let us start mediterranean wellness journey together by choosing healthier oil,  EVOO.  Small steps to a healthier diet and better health. 

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