OLIVE OIL COMPOSITION
Extra virgin olive oil, like all oils and fats, is formed by about 98% triglycerides. In olive oil, triglycerides are characterized by containing fatty acids including the predominant oleic acid (65-80%). Oleic Acid is a mono-unsaturated fatty acid that aids in the function of our blood lipoproteins and cell membranes and improves cardiovascular function. It is also much more stable in terms of deterioration during storage and cooking than the main seed oils which are rich in polyunsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats typically spoil faster than mono unsaturated fats and often spoil during cooking.
Due to the extraction technique olive oil contains small amounts of natural components derived from the fruit of the olive. Some of these components have strong antioxidant benefits, such ortho-diphenols (derived from oleuropein, a typical bitter compound found in olives containing hydroxytyrosol), the tocopherols (alpha-tocopherol or pro-vitamin E), carotenoids and squalene. For these reasons, extra virgin olive oil is the most stable of oils in terms of deterioration, tolerates heat during cooking, and has health benefits when incorporated into a balanced diet. The lipid profile of our body is affected positively, especially when compared to a diet heavy with animal fats and margarines, which instead increase the presence of ‘bad’ saturated fatty acids in our arteries..
Compared to seed oils which are rich in poly-unsaturates, extra virgin olive oil is superior. It oxidizes less because it is rich in fats with a low percentage of mono-unsaturated fats and is extracted exclusively by physical pressing the olive fruit. Few people know that seed oils are refined industrially after being extracted with an organic solvent – typically hexane (hydrocarbon). Once the solvent is removed, the oil is then de-acidified with basic substances, de-colored by bleaching and then deodorized under high vacuum at
temperatures around 392 F. For these reasons, extra virgin olive oil is being highly recognized and appreciated more and more around the world. The nutritional superiority of extra virgin olive oil continues to become more apparent and talked about when discussing healthy lifestyles. Unfortunately, extra virgin olive oil is not heavily integrated into diets in regions such as North America and Asia as it is in the Mediterranean.