Olive oil has been around for centuries, and people have used it as both food and medicine. There are lots of types of olive oil -- and even more levels of quality. The way the oil is extracted from the fruit has a lot to do with the quality of the product you end up with.
Olive oil that’s cold pressed is one of the best types you can add to food or cook with. Here’s the dish on what its health benefits are and much more.
What Is Cold Pressed Olive Oil?
Olive oil comes from the Mediterranean region, where olives are abundant. Olives are stone fruits, just like peaches and plums, but the oil they produce is truly unique.
Many things affect the quality of olive oil, like the weather, harvest style, soil, and the type of olive used. The way olive oil is processed can also impact the quality of the final product. Cold pressed olive oil is one of the best ways for the oil to hold onto its top nutrients, including healthy fats and antioxidants.
Nutrient-rich. Cold pressed olive oil is made when olives are pressed to produce oil without heat or additional chemicals. When cold-pressed, the olive fruit will stay below 50 C (or 122 F). At this temperature or below, the properties of the oil don’t get damaged. This is why, when pressed cold, most of the olive's nutritional value sticks around after turning to oil.
Good for the environment. Cold pressing olive oil is a more Earth-friendly process compared to the high temperatures and chemicals used to make refined oils.
Stores well. Cold pressed olive oil has high amounts of a healthy monounsaturated fatty acid called oleic acid. This form of fat helps keep the oil from going rancid. You can store it for a longer time, especially compared to other cold pressed oils.
Antioxidants. It’s also high in these healthy substances, which may prevent or delay certain types of cell damage.
The antioxidants in olive oil may also lower the risk for blood clots and fat deposits in the arteries.
Anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is believed to be linked to chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's, and cancer. In any form, olive oil has anti-inflammatory effects due to its healthy fats and antioxidants. Cold pressed olive oil may offer even more of this protection.
Cold pressed olive oil may also help control insulin levels and the amount of fat in your blood.
How to Use Cold Pressed Olive Oil
You can eat it by the spoonful, or add it to vegetables, grains, cheeses, salads, and more. Just watch how much you use. One tablespoon of cold pressed olive oil has 120 calories.
It's best to cook with cold pressed olive oil at temperatures below 180 C and for as little time as possible. This will help the oil keep its nutrients intact.
Counterfeit cold-pressed oils can be found all over the world. These are typically low-quality, refined oils with false labeling. Try to find olive oils with clear information about where the product is from and how it was made.