Throughout the years, you probably have heard chefs and magazines discussing the health benefits of olive oil. While you continue to hear about these benefits, you may be a bit unsure about what exactly these health benefits are or even how olive oil is made. This article will analyze the myths and facts regarding olive oil and try to clear up any misunderstandings about this natural oil.
What Is Olive Oil?
Olive oil is actually a fruit juice derived from pressing or mashing the olive. This oil is well known for its distinct aroma and flavor. Olive oil is versatile and can be used in many different cooking manners, including sautéing, stir frying, in marinades, or simply used as a dip for bread.
Myth: All Olive Oils Are the Same
Fact: Olive oil comes in virgin, extra virgin, pure and light versions. Virgin means that no chemicals were used in the process of extracting the oil from the fruit. Extra virgin means that the olive oil has undergone several tests to confirm its taste and to verify that it is free of defects. Light olive oil is not pure virgin olive oil. This form is a blend of pomace olive oil, which is olive oil that is extracted from the fruit using heat and chemicals, and virgin olive oil.
Myth: Olives Are a Fruit
Fact: Despite what your initial thoughts may have been, this statement actually is true. Olives are considered fruits. In their natural form, olives are very bitter and nearly inedible. To get the amazing taste and flavor, olives are cured in brine or oil.
Myth: You Cannot Use Olive Oil to Deep-Fry Foods
Fact: Despite olive oils lower fat content compared to other oils and therefore, low smoke point, olive oil is an excellent option for deep-frying. While deep-frying with olive oil would be more expensive than with other oils, it is possible and would add excellent flavor to your foods.
Myth: Olive Oil Is a Healthier Option than Butter
Fact: This statement is true. Olive oil contains only 33% saturated fat while butter is composed of 66% saturated fat. Olive oil has no cholesterol, while a serving of butter has 33mg of cholesterol.
Myth: All Oils Are Fattening, Including Olive Oil
Fact: Extra virgin olive oil contains some of the highest amounts of monounsaturated fats compared to other oils. These fats actually help lower a person’s total cholesterol level and LDL cholesterol level, or bad cholesterol. When used in moderation, olive oil provides more health benefits than negative health issues.
Myth: Olive Oil Should Be Stored in the Refrigerator
Fact: Olive oil should not be stored in the refrigerator. When olive oil is chilled, it becomes cloudy and can even solidify and crystallize. While this does not harm the oil, it may affect the texture and consistency. Olive oil is perfectly safe stored at room temperature for at least two years. It is recommended to store olive oil in a cool, dark location. Olive oil reaches its peak flavor in its first two months.