Friday, March 6, 2009

All About Olive Oil and Other Healthy Oils

Olives and olive oil have been used as powerful remedies for a wide variety of ills. Olive oil is one of the most digestible of all fats. A diet rich in olive oil contributes to longevity and reduces the wear and tear of aging on the body tissues, organs, and the brain. It reduces the risk of heart disease and cancer, and it can protect against stomach ulcers.

High-quality extra-virgin olive oil should not be used in cooking, though, as some of the nutrients in olive oil become less effective when heated. For that reason, I recommend that it be mixed into food once the food has cooled, although I use it some for stir fry veggies.

For the most healthful and nutritious look for extra virgin olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil, also referred to as E.V.O.O., is the result of the first cold-pressing of an olive crop. Use it often in salad dressings, in pesto, and in marinades for a rich, classic Mediterranean flavor!

Other healthy oils/fats that are great for cooking include grapeseed oil, coconut oil, palm oil, and real butter. I use all the above and all are great for cooking at high temperatures. Of course organic or cold-pressed is best, but it can also be expensive so buy what you can afford. The debate is out on whether safflower oil is healthy, but I still use it. A book I read only recommends it if it is organic cold-pressed, but I just buy the kind from Wal-Mart which isn't.

Limit if not avoid vegetable oil, canola oil, peanut oil and definitely avoid shortening or Crisco and margarine of any kind because of the hydrogenation process it undergoes.

I love the following homemade salad dressing and I make it ALL the time. It is the best ever and my mom and I absolutely rave about it. Hope you enjoy it. The olive oil will give it a stronger taste so if you want something a little less "flavorful" you can use the grapeseed oil.

Simple Salad Dressing
1 clove of FRESH garlic, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 -1/2 T. of white vinegar
4 T. of olive or grapeseed oil
1/4 tsp of dry mustard
dash of pepper
Combine all ingredients in a small jar and shake thoroughly. This is quite salty so if you are not a salt lover, you can reduce the salt to 1/2 tsp.