What is extra virgin olive oil?
Extra virgin olive oil refers to a specific grade of consumer olive oil that is made from the initial pressing of the olives. It is considered by most people to be the highest quality variety, with the finest taste and texture. Olive oil is a hugely popular oil throughout the world, both for cooking and for eating as a condiment with foods.
Cold-pressed olive oil is extracted from fresh olives by mechanical means at a temperature of 81 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Olive Oil Source. Cold-pressed virgin olive oil contains high amounts of monounsaturated fatty acids, polyphenols and antioxidants that provide many health benefits.
High content of monounsaturated fatty acids in cold-pressed olive oil lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Monounsaturated fatty acids work to protect against heart disease and stroke by reducing levels of LDL or “bad” cholesterol, which tends to deposit in arteries and leads to atherosclerosis when present in high levels. Monounsaturated fatty acids in cold-pressed olive oil also increase levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol. At high levels, HDL reduces levels of LDL cholesterol by carrying it to the liver for excretion through the digestive system.
Lowers High Blood Pressure
According to a study reported in “American Journal of Hypertension” in 2012, cold-pressed olive oil that contains high concentrations of polyphenols significantly lowers blood pressure in young women with mild hypertension. Other studies also reported that diets high in olive oil help in lowering blood pressure and may even reduce dosage of antihypertensive medication.
Protection Against Some Cancers
Consumption of olive oil has been associated with lower risk of breast, colon, prostate and digestive tract cancers, reports a recent article in “BMC Surgery” in 2013. Giuseppe Grosso et al. stated that olive oil, such as that present in a typical Mediterranean diet, inhibits the carcinogenic process by the action of tyrosol, hydroxytyrosol and other components present in cold-pressed olive oil.
Experimental studies show that polyphenols in cold-pressed olive oil are effective against Helicobacter pylori, a microorganism that causes stomach ulcers and is also associated with some gastric cancers. Although a clinical study published in the journal "Helicobacter" in 2012 reported moderate eradication of H. pylori in subjects who were given virgin olive oil, additional studies are needed to establish the use of olive oil as an effective agent in treating this infection.