Olive oil is believed to reduce chances of contracting coronary heart disease. Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a severe medical condition. It is characterized by the narrowing of the blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. A diet rich in olive oil also helps in lowering cholesterol levels in the body. Here are some facts and information about the benefits of cooking food in olive oil.
How to Cook With Olive Oil
Marinating fish, meat and poultry with olive oil adds a healthy and pleasant flavor to the food. Baking usually involves lots of fat. So instead of using butter in baking, you can use olive oil to reduce the quantity of fat. The amount of olive oil used should be about 25% less than the normal quantity of butter.
The extra-virgin grade of olive oil is the expensive one. So you can keep it for salads, dressings and vinaigrette. Extra-virgin and virgin olive oils cannot maintain their flavor if subjected to high heat. That is why they are the best for uncooked food.
Foods like vinegar, wine, lemon juice, tomatoes, etc. have a high-acid content. Use of olive oil for cooking with such foods balances the acidity. It is a good practice to do a taste test before you decide on a recipe to be cooked with olive oil. Best results are obtained if you can pair up the taste of the oil with other ingredients in the recipe.
Olive oil can also be used for preparing appetizers. Broiled baguette slices can be rubbed with cut cloves or garlic and then drizzled with a few drops of olive oil. Prepare delicious dips by preparing a mix of white beans, garlic and olive oil in a food processor. You can also use your favorite herbs for seasoning.
Another important tip that has to be kept in mind is the smoke point of the olive oil that is being used. Experts recommend that olive oil (or any other oil) must not reach a temperature that exceeds its smoke point. By smoke point it refers to a stage where an oil begins to break down. So exceeding this particular temperature imparts an unpleasant taste to the food being cooked in the oil. There are usually three types or grades of olive oil. These are extra virgin, virgin and olive oil. The third one is usually preferred for cooking. This is because this oil undergoes a better refinement process than the other two. That is the reason why olive oil is considered best for stir-frying. Stir-frying requires the cooking oil to withstand a high amount of heat, and olive oil has a smoke point of 410 degrees Fahrenheit. Regular cooking oils degrade on repeated high heating, whereas olive oil doesn't.
Health Benefits of Olive Oil
In comparison to other oils like vegetable oil, corn oil, peanut oil, etc. olive oil is effective in reducing blood pressure. Research done on the use of olive oil for cooking revealed that blood pressure medication could be reduced to 50% of the normal dose in patients who used olive oil for cooking. Olive oil is known to consist of high quantities of mono-unsaturated fat and low quantities of saturated and polyunsaturated fat. This is the key reason olive oil helps lower cholesterol levels and is regarded as a healthy cooking oil.
LDL cholesterol is one of the major health concerns in recent times. LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is termed as the 'bad' cholesterol. Gradual accumulation of this agent on the arteries causes severe heart disease. Using olive oil for cooking has also been found to be effective in countering the ill effects of this type of cholesterol.
Apart from reducing the chances of developing cancer, olive oil has also been recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA) to be beneficial for the heart.
Using olive oil for cooking is an old tradition and the list of recipes using this oil is an endless. Despite its many benefits, it is important to remember that the oil is still a fat. It causes no ill effects while it is consumed in limited and required proportions. By far, olive oil is good for your heart and adds great taste to your food!