Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is one of the most widely used ingredients in the kitchen and a main element of the Mediterranean diet. Therefore, its consumption is totally recommended to maintain a balanced and healthy diet. Moreover, as Spain is a producer country, local trade is encouraged.
The Mediterranean Diet Foundation stresses that this oil is "a food rich in vitamin E, beta-carotene and monounsaturated fatty acids that give it cardio-protective properties". In addition, this food "has lasted through centuries among the regional gastronomic customs".
Beneficial properties for health
This type of oil, unlike the rest, is of higher quality and is extracted by physical methods from the olive. The Spanish Society of Endocrinology and Nutrition argues that the difference between extra virgin and refined olive oil is "the amount of polyphenols", i.e. "the antioxidant substances linked to the beneficial effects of olive oil".
Olive oil is mostly made up of fats that are an important source of energy. Oleic acid, the main one in olive oil, belongs to the group of monounsaturated fats, which have a great cardiosalubricating and antioxidant effect.
The General Directorate of Public Health and Food of the Community of Madrid, in an information guide on olive oil, points out that other compounds that exercise important functions on the organism are carotenes (Vitamin A); chlorophylls (antioxidants), or tocopherols (Vitamin E); sterols (cholesterol).
Some of the health benefits highlighted in this guide are:
Helps protect the esophageal mucosa from acidity in the stomach and aids digestion and absorption of nutrients in the intestine.
Helps reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by lowering total and LDL or "bad" cholesterol and maintaining or increasing "good" or HDL cholesterol.
Helps improve metabolic control of diabetes.
Cardiovascular and immunological effect
Extra virgin olive oil is an ideal culinary fat for cardiovascular health and for our diet, as confirmed by the Spanish Society of Arteriosclerosis in a study carried out by the Nutrition and Lifestyle team.
Another of its benefits is that it keeps the immune system active, which is essential for generating defences against any type of infection. This is due to its antioxidant properties.
Finally, experts have shown that olive oil may be able to delay aging due to the high concentration of polyphenols in its composition, since they act as natural antioxidants.