I love helping people feel great.
It’s the reason I got into this business in the first place. And sometimes, when someone starts to feel much better, they’ll come in wanting to return the favor in big ways.
Delphi was one of those people . A few years back, I helped her get her health back on track. Since then, she never shows for an appointment without bringing me a trinket from home or a gift of some sort. And, with her help, I’ve managed to build up quite a collection. Thanks to Delphi, I now own komboloi (or worry beads), a pair of handsome leather sandals, and even a handmade backgammon set.
But, at our last appointment, she brought me a real treat. Something I’m not sure I’ll be able to hold onto for long because I know I’ll put it to use daily—and nightly.
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO).
Not just any extra virgin olive oil. Delphi brought me a can of her uncle’s award-winning Koroneiki extra virgin olive oil. Her uncle’s groves are just west of the Peloponnese—a region known for family farms that produce firm, full-flavored, perfect olives.
I was excited to try this special varietal out because extra virgin olive oil is a staple in my diet. Of course, I immediately gave Delphi a giant hug. She’s heard me say over and over that, “the purpose of food is to get olive oil into your mouth,” so she knew her gift for me was absolutely spot on.
From Olive to EVOO.
Those who craft extra virgin olive oil take pride in carrying on a time-honored tradition. You see, today’s farmers have been taught techniques and practices honed by their ancestors. It’s an art, really, and it’s been perfected in Greece, Italy, and other Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions for centuries.
That being said, methods are different depending on where the oil originates. Each family may have their own secret to getting their trees to produce this healthy superfood.
In most cases, olive trees have to grow for many years before they produce even a single olive. But, if the trees are properly pruned, the farmer can ensure a good batch of olives will appear.
Not only that, but producing olive oil takes a significant amount of time, as it takes about 10 pounds of olives to make just one liter of the perfectly golden oil.
Now, here’s a little known fact: The oil is only “extra virgin” if it’s unrefined—that means it’s made by pressing the olives, as opposed to being industrially processed in any way. Simply pressing the olives results in a significantly less acidic, overall healthier oil.
Olive oil has been touted for thousands of years because of its amazing nutty, peppery, buttery, and deliciously bitter taste. But, extra virgin olive oil is also one of the best superfoods around, perhaps even—dare I say it—the best.
What’s a superfood?
So, what is it exactly that makes a food a superfood? In short, a superfood is any natural food that contains:
>> A variety of essential vitamins and minerals.
>> A serious assortment of vital nutrients.
>> A rich portion of good fats.
>> A notable supply of antioxidants.
>> Proven medicinal and healing properties.
Could extra virgin olive oil be the ultimate superfood?
Well, it’s definitely up there. As it turns out, EVOO hits every mark on the superfood list.
For starters, olive oil is chock full of essential vitamins and minerals. In fact, olive oil is full of vitamin K and vitamin E . It also contains calcium, iron, sodium, and potassium. Furthermore, olive oil happens to contain plenty of beneficial polyphenols—the natural compounds in plant foods with antioxidant properties. Olive oil is remarkably high in healthy oleic acid—a monounsaturated, omega-9 fatty acid.
So, how can this superfood benefit our health?
Olive oil helps our immune systems help us.
To begin with, olive oil can contribute to the reduction of inflammatory activity in those suffering from autoimmune disorders. Olive oil’s anti-inflammatory effects are regulated by its antioxidants—like oleocanthal—which is supposedly right up there with ibuprofen.
It’s a heart-healthy choice. When it comes to choosing cooking oils that can really help our hearts, olive oil is at the top of the list because of its significant monounsaturated fatty acid content. And that’s great news, because monounsaturated fatty acids are known to help control blood pressure.
Olive oil can help keep our skin youthful. Often, when we look in the mirror and believe that we look older than we are, we’re really just noticing inflamed skin cells. But, there’s a compound in olive oil known as ursolic acid, and it’s able to discourage inflammation on a cellular level. Not only that, the polyphenols in olive oil are known to absorb free radicals—cell-damaging molecules that can contribute to skin aging.
There are many reasons EVOO is one of the ultimate superfoods. To read more about the health benefits of olive oil, check out my blog. You can also visit me at my website and leave a comment or let me know all about one of your favorite EVOO recipes.
Author: Stephen Gundry
Image: Author’s Own; Flickr
Editor: Lieselle Davidson