Olive oil is the best food in the Mediterranean diet . In addition to feeding us from an early age it contains the essential vitamins to fight many cardiovascular diseases. Extra virgin olive oil is undoubtedly the best seasoning fat we have. The great benefits it can bring to our health are due primarily to the type of fatty acids that make it up. As in the great majority of vegetable fats, these are essentially unsaturated, ie fatty acids that tend to decrease cholesterol levels and, in part, increase HDL, the so-called good cholesterol. This in contrast to the fats of animal origin that are instead formed by a high percentage of saturated type fatty acids which, on the contrary, tend to increase cholesterol and, in particular, Ldl, or bad cholesterol.
The main characteristic of olive oil, the one that puts it above all other fats, animal or vegetable, is the presence of some molecules among which we find vitamins, alpha and gamma tocopherols and beta caotene, phytosterols, squalene and phenolic compounds, such as flavonoids, alcohols and phenolic acids . It is a mix of essentially antioxidant substances that are valuable both for the oil itself as they protect it from becoming rancid and for our health, opposing the formation of free radicals, reactive molecules that naturally form and that do so much damage to our cells.
The benefits of extra virgin olive oil for our health are now scientifically proven and numerous studies indicate that its constant use decreases the risk of cardiovascular disorders and the risk of tumors, particularly those of the upper digestive system. Last but not least, extra virgin olive oil is important in the regulation of our body's natural defense system.
To guarantee that the oil has been squeezed from healthy olives exclusively by mechanical action, at a temperature below 27 degrees, the word " virgin" or "extra virgin " must appear on the label. Of the two, the extra virgin olive oil is obviously better, because it presents better values in some quality parameters. A simple olive oil, on the other hand, is rectified with chemical processes, which are not in themselves dangerous to health, but worse than quality. This, in fact, in addition to not having the aromas and flavors of a good extra virgin, is lacking in those molecules that make olive oil an excellent food to protect our health.