They say that olive oil has magical properties – that it lessens the risk of breast cancer in women, it helps those with peptic ulcers and gallstones, it’s good for the hair, and can be used to treat burns. You can burn it, wash with it, lubricate with it, preserve with it and eat it.
But in the past olive oil was regarded in many countries as some kind of ethnic product to be found only in obscure groceries specializing in Greek or Levantine food, or in restaurants patronized by southern Europeans.
However, a big change in attitude occurred in the 1970s when statistics were published to show that Mediterranean people had the lowest rates of heart disease in the western world. And this was attributed to their diet, a diet which included a large proportion of olive oil. Olive oil contains up to 80% monounsaturated fat which helps keep HDL – the good cholesterol – levels up and bad cholesterol down, and antioxidants which help prevent plaque buildup in the arteries.
And olive oil has two other important components – vitamin E and polyphenols which prevent oxidation of fatty acids and reduce the risk of arteriosclerosis and some forms of cancer.
So get rid of all the fancy salad dressings and creams you sometimes buy, and replace them with olive oil – you’ll avoid all the bad-for-you ingredients these products contain and instead have something that’s pure, natural, tasty and good for you. And if possible cut down your consumption of butter or margarine, or avoid them completely, and use olive oil instead. And the oil can be used in many other ways, for frying, for grilled food, and can be eaten with just about everything, even on bread.
Now is the time to safeguard your health by eating the healthy way – just like the peoples of the Mediterranean region do. And as olive oil is presently available on every supermarket shelf why not buy some and experiment with it in your own cooking. You’ll find that, apart from giving you health benefits, it adds extra flavor, extra zest and extra piquancy to any dish.