Why You Should Cook with Olive Oil

There’s the inexpensive peanut oil, which is great for deep frying and high-temperature cooking. But next time you’re cooking for friends, remember that an estimated 0.6 – 1.0% of the population is allergic to peanuts, with allergic reactions that can be life threatening. Likewise, canola oil is a common household and restaurant oil, however, in 1995, agricultural giant Monsanto developed Roundup-Ready canola (Brassica napus) plants that were bio-engineered to tolerate to glyphosate, the active ingredient in its weedkiller (1), so it’s not one of our preferred oils.

Despite the seemingly endless array of choices, Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or EVOO) seems like it’s getting a steady stream of following from customers all over the world. Cooking with olive oil is definitely a great choice, for a number of reasons.

EVOO, as well as being delicious, is packed with an array of enticing and scientifically proven health benefits. These are our five favourites.

1. Heart Health

EVOO contains good fat, the monounsaturated fatty acids, which are believed to help with the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Olive oil contains active compounds that can help lower blood pressure and prevent atherosclerosis.

People in regions, like the Mediterranean, who regularly consume EVOO have lower mortality for cardiovascular diseases. A 2013 study (2) concluded that supplementing diets with EVOO substantially reduced the risk of major cardiovascular events and is beneficial in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

2. Diabetes

Regular intake of EVOO can reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. A 2017 study (3) found that consuming 15 to 20 grams of EVOO decreased the risk of Type 2 Diabetes by 13%. The oleic acid contents promote glucose or sugar transport into the cells, which helps regulate blood glucose.

3. Cancer prevention

Because EVOO contains antioxidants, it can provide some protection against certain types of cancer.

Oleocanthal is a component in EVOO that was found to cause death in cancerous cells. Researchers (4) have found that oleocanthal stopped the spread of breast and prostate cancers cells, as well as myeloma cells.

Oleic acid was also discovered by researchers from the University of Edinburgh (5) to help prevent “cancer-causing genes from functioning in cells and may help to prevent cancer from developing in the brain.”

4. Brain Health

EVOO contains brain-protective antioxidants called polyphenols. These polyphenols protect neurons from injuries and can promote stronger memory and cognitive functions (6).

In addition, its oleocanthal also plays a key role in suppressing inflammation not only to the brain but in other areas of the body where chronic inflammatory diseases may occur, including degenerative joint diseases, cancer, heart diseases and neurodegenerative diseases (7). 

5. Skin Health

EVOO also contains Vitamin E, which is essential for keeping your skin healthy and elastic. Whether consumed or applied to the skin topically, it helps protect the skin from premature ageing. Olive oil can help you glow from the inside too! Research showed (8) that EVOO’s polyphenol protects the liver from oxidative stress.

Sounds almost too good to be true, doesn’t it? And with such a complex and rich flavour too! It’s no wonder olive oil was hailed by Homer as “liquid gold”, a sentiment echoed by health buffs and foodies down the centuries. So how can one product have such broad health benefits? And why is it so different to other oils on the market? The answer lies in the wide range of compounds, vitamins and healthy fats that naturally occur in olive fruits, and are preserved through our traditional harvesting and pressing process.

Let’s dive a bit deeper into what’s in olive oil, and what those compounds do:

High Oleic Acid Content: Oleic acid, a significant component of EVOO’s monounsaturated fats, helps with weight loss by increasing the fat burning abilities of your body. It also can reduce blood pressure, protects cell membranes from free radicals, and may prevent cancer. With all of these amazing benefits attributed to consuming oleic acid, health-conscious individuals are researching which food contains the highest concentration of oleic acid. One tablespoon of EVOO contains 9.62 grams of oleic acid.

Oleocanthal: An anti-inflammatory phenolic compound, oleocanthal is believed to have the same effects as painkillers and popular anti-inflammatory drugs. It has been shown in studies to effectively destroy cancer cells and reduce inflammation in chronic inflammatory diseases.

Omega-3: Omega-3 fatty acids lower triglycerides in your body (also known as body fat) so contributes to an overall healthier heart. Are you expecting? Omega -3 also contains the compound DHA, which is extremely important for proper neurological and visual development in infants.

Antioxidants: Here’s a term you will be familiar with! The health conscious cant seem to get enough antioxidants, and with good reason. In general, the antioxidants’ role is to protect the cells from cellular damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin E is the most popular antioxidant, but it’s not the only one. Let’s run through just a few which can be found in Olive Oil. Hydroxytyrosol, oleuropein, and carotenoids are also antioxidants with amazing health benefits to the human body. Hydroxytyrosol, in particular, plays a key role in keeping the circulatory system functioning.

Vitamin E: A fat-soluble antioxidant, vitamin E protects the body against eye and skin problems, neurological diseases, cancer and diabetes. In fact, each tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil packs 1.94 milligrams of vitamin E. You might be more familiar with vitamin E as a key ingredient on your skincare products, and yes, it’s the same stuff. Olive oil can be applied topically for a rejuvenated and glowing complexion.

Vitamin K: Vitamin K is known to help with blood clotting but it also helps regulate calcium in your blood vessels. While calcium is thought of as a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle, too much calcium intake may lead to cardiovascular diseases such as coronary artery calcification. By keeping excessive calcium from travelling in the bloodstream and being deposited in the arteries, vitamin K helps keep the circulatory system flowing freely.

Optimise your Health with Olive Oil

Olive oil is a true super food, and as part of a healthy lifestyle, it really can help optimize our health. So what’s the best way to get these compounds into our body in a way we can absorb and utilize them? You will almost certainly have seen a frightening headline recently stating that olive oil is unsuitable for cooking as heat destroys the healthy compounds, leaving us with fatty, calorie dense oil. Let’s address this now. Does cooking change the qualities of olive oil? Yes. But that’s what cooking is. The qualities of all food change when they’re cooked. But does this make olive oil unsafe to cook with? Absolutely not. But it does come down to the quality of the oil.

In order to extract superior quality olive oil, our olives are mechanically or cold pressed without any introduction of heat. Some manufacturers introduce heat and chemicals to the olives to extract more oil but this destroys flavour and aroma that is characteristic to EVOO. So cooking with a lower quality oil will leave you with something really quite bland. Our EVOO is a bit different.

EVOO is considered heat stable with a smoke point of up to 410OF, thermal resistant, and has minimal oxidation during cooking. In fact, it was scientifically proven to resist oxidation when heated because of its high monounsaturated fat content. This makes olive oil an ideal candidate for cooking oil. However, if you really want to enjoy the full richness and complexity, it is best to use EVOO raw drizzled over dishes, salad or bread.

So what about quality?

The abundance of antioxidants in every drop of EVOO makes it a kitchen staple for health-conscious households everywhere. But be wary of refined oils. These olive oils are usually clever camouflaged and contain the words “100%”, “pure”, or “light” in the packaging. Sure, they sound wholesome and innocent enough, but trust us when we say you’ll want to avoid them. Refined olive oil, derived from heating and adding acids and alkalis to the olive pulp after the initial oil extraction, lack the antioxidants and other polyphenols that high-grade olive oils contain.

Zeitouna Olive Oil is World Class Certified

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a globally renowned certifying body for compliance and standards. ISO identifies specifications for products, services, systems and procedures by which a company complies with to measure excellence and ensure quality.

We are proud to be UNI EN ISO 22000:2005-certified.

“ISO 22000:2005 specifies requirements for a food safety management system where an organization in the food chain needs to demonstrate its ability to control food safety hazards in order to ensure that food is safe at the time of human consumption.”

Being ISO 22000:5000, we have control over our operations, eliminate food-borne health hazards and deliver consistently high quality and safe olive oil. We have established a structured management system. Every stage of our process has been scrutinised to make sure it’s carried out to the highest standard. With our certification as a testament to our mission and vision, we have the technology and the knowledge to manufacture, store and transport high-grade olive oil. ISO 22000:5000 is also our commitment to be open to ISO’s audits so we can continue to improve on our processes and procedures to safeguard customer satisfaction.

We only supply the highest quality product. We harvest the finest olives and cold press them within 12 hours so we can extract superior oil. No fruit that fell on the ground is pressed to guarantee contaminant-free oil. To preserve quality and authenticity, we mechanically extract the oil without any introduction of heat or chemicals.

Have you read our previous blog post on the Different Types of Olive Oil?