Health Benefits of Spanish Olive Oil
Named ‘liquid gold’ by the Ancient Greeks, olive oil has been valued for its medicinal properties, as well as its flavour ever since. The fresh fruity taste of a really good Spanish olive oil isn’t just great in cooking but it actually has many health benefits when used as a regular part of your diet.
Olive oil is renowned for its healthy fats. High in monounsaturated fatty acids, it has a beneficial level on cholesterol levels, by lowering bad (LDL) cholesterol and raising good (HDL) cholesterol, so protecting against heart disease.
All Spanish olive oil is an excellent source of monounsaturated fat, but cold pressed extra virgin olive oils have extra health benefits: because of the minimal processing undergone by the olives, the oil retains high levels of natural antioxidants, in particular vitamin E and valuable polyphenols.
Antioxidants protect the body against cell damage, mopping up free radicals, and so play an essential part against cancerous cell formation. Polyphenols also have anti-inflammatory and anticoagulant properties, which can help lower blood pressure, combat osteoporosis, as well as reducing the severity of arthritis and asthma symptoms and many other valuable functions.
Research in Spain has shown that olive oil is very beneficial to the digestive system, protecting against ulcers and gastritis, gallstone formation and decreasing the risk of colon cancer.
For best protection against high cholesterol and heart disease researchers suggest completely replacing unhealthy fats such as butter and lard, with olive oil.
Correct storage of your Spanish olive oil is also essential to maintain its health benefits. It should be kept away from light and heat, tinted glass or plastic bottles are recommended, and used within a year of production, otherwise much of the beneficial Vitamin E and antioxidant phenols can be lost.
It is important to choose a good quality extra virgin olive oil, which is cold pressed, to retain the maximum amount of polyphenols. All Spanish extra virgin olive oils are certified by the International Olive Oil Council and so their excellent quality can be relied on.