An oil with a heart
Olive oil is said to be healthier and tastier than many other types of oils
ALL FOR OLIVE OIL Chef Vicky Ratnani
How about peach and pepper chutney and tikkis made of yam and potatoes. Mouth-watering, is it not? That was how celebrity chef Vicky Ratnani recently showed how olive oil can be used in Indian cooking. He also emphasised that it enhanced the taste of his recipes and made fried food crispier. Which brings us to: is olive oil healthy?
In the 1960s, scientists found a correlation between saturated fats and heart ailments. They found that it was best to follow a low-fat diet to keep the heart healthy. But the Mediterranean region contradicted their findings. It was found that despite following a high-fat diet, the rate of heart ailments in the region was low. The region also seemed to enjoy higher life expectancies. It was then scientists found out that the Mediterranean secret to sound health was olive oil!
According to the Consortium of Guarantee of Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVC), olive oil is known to strengthen the immune system, prevent heart ailments, reduce cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and even control the effects of ageing. It is also known to prevent certain types of cancer, and reduce the incidence of diabetes. Said to be easily digestible, it can even be fed to infants.
Extra virgin olive oil is said to be among the only vegetable oils extracted by mechanical milling without any refining process that uses industrial solvents.
In such a scenario, EVC conducts campaigns such as ‘Oliveitup' to promote awareness on the nutritional value of olive oil. At one such campaign in the country recently, the president of the interprofessional organisation for the olive oil sector, Pina Romano, said: “The campaign seeks to make Indian consumers aware of the nutritional properties of olive oil, backed by scientific evidence.”
“India is the diabetic capital of the world with an eight per cent diabetic population, and 10 per cent of the country's population has cardiac issues. Also 40 per cent of its urban population has high cholesterol and 14 per cent of the world's BP population belongs to India. It is time Indians switched to a healthier cooking medium,” said nutrition expert Ishi Khosla.
Does switching oils really make a difference? Ishi Khosla said: “There are three kinds of oils — mono-unsaturated, poly saturated and saturated. Cooking oils are a combination of all three with one dominant component. Olive oil has the highest mono-unsaturated fatty acid content among all the other oils in its category.
This category is believed to be the healthiest because the others increase bad cholesterol levels in the body. Also, most of these oils are refined using toxic and often carcinogenic industrial solvents.”
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