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Health Alternative

Olive oil is credited with many beneficial qualities. Its most celebrated attribute is its ability to help prevent one of the twentieth century's biggest killers, coronary heart disease.
Research in Europe and America has revealed that western and northern European diets rich in saturated fatty acids increase the incidence of coronary heart disease. Not surprisingly, there is a lower risk of heart disease for those in Mediterranean areas enjoying a diet weighed with mono unsaturated fatty acids. Spain, the biggest producer of olive oil, enjoys one of the lowest rates of heart disease in the western world. This is why a majority of health professionals agree that a Mediterranean-style diet in which olive oil is the principal source of fat is so meritorious.
The foundation of the 'eat Mediterranean' diet theory was the Seven Countries study which began back in 1958. Its purpose was to study the health risks confronting middle aged men, and included diet, exercise and smoking. The Finns had the highest mortality rates, followed by the Americans, while the Japanese, Greeks and Italians scored lowest in the heart disease stakes. Historically the Japanese have included little fat in their diet so that result was predictable. Yet Greeks and Italians enjoyed a high fat diet with most of the fat coming in the form of olive oil. It was the first indication that olive oil was far healthier than other oils. To further price the case the study went on to witness Mediterranean’s forsaking a traditional diet in subsequent years in favour of a Western-style one, with its greater emphasis on red meat. As diet trends changed the rates of heart disease rose.

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Why is Olive Oil good for me?

  • Olive oil contains a wide variety of valuable antioxidants that are not found in any other oils.

  • Epidemiological studies suggest that olive oil has a protective effect against certain malignant tumours in the breast, prostate, endometrium and digestive tract. Research has revealed that the "type" rather than the "quantity" of fat seems to have more implications for cancer incidence. This could be related to oleic acid, which is the predominant mono-unsaturated fatty acid in olive oil.

  • ·     It has been demonstrated that the addition of olive oil to a diet that is not changed in any other way has a lowering effect on blood pressure.

  • An olive oil rich diet is not only a good alternative in the treatment of diabetes; it may also help to prevent or delay the onset of the disease by preventing insulin resistance and its possible harmful implications by raising HDL cholesterol, lowering triglycerides, and ensuring better blood sugar level control and lower blood pressure.

  • Olive oil bolsters the immune system against external attacks from microorganisms, bacteria or viruses. The fatty acids in olive oil are good allies in lowering important immunological parameters.

  • Olive oil is also good for the stomach, hepato-biliary system, pancreas, and intestines. It helps with anti-aging, osteoporosis, cognitive function and skin damage. It is also beneficial to consume olive oil during pregnancy and whilst breast feeding.

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Quick ways with Olive Oil

  • Contrary to popular belief, olive oil is ideal for deep and shallow frying, in fact it is more suitable than most other fats and oils.

  • Grill or toast thick slices of crusty bread, rub garlic or very ripe tomato and drizzle with olive oil.

  • Drizzle olive oil on baked potatoes and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese or chopped fresh herbs.

  • Make a quick easy salad dressing or marinade. Just whisk together 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and perhaps chopped fresh herbs, garlic or onion.

  • Bake low calorie potato chips the easy way. Cut unpeeled potatoes into thick slices and arrange them into one layer on a baking sheet. Lightly brush the slices with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and bake in a preheated 230-degree Celsius oven for 12-15 minutes until crisp.

  • Brush sliced vegetables such as eggplant, zucchini and red capsicum with a full flavoured olive oil, season and sprinkle with fresh herbs - thyme, oregano, parsley or rosemary - and bake in a preheated 180-degree Celsius oven until tender.

  • Use light flavoured olive oil in a drop scone and waffle batter. It is also very good in a fruit cake and fruit muffins.

  • Toss hot or cold vegetables with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, freshly ground black pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

  • Keep a cruet of fresh olive oil on your dining table to sprinkle vegetables, soups, stews and pasta dishes for added flavour.

  • Make a sauce with olive oil. Boil chicken, veal or fish stock and thicken it by adding a steady stream of olive oil; simmer and season with 2-3 tablespoons of wine, pepper and fresh herbs.

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