Olive oil is the natural oil extracted from olives, the fruit grown on olive trees. Olive oil has been gaining popularity due to the many health benefits it offers. Indian supermarkets are flooded with olive oil brands. Oils being one of the important components for most Indian cuisines, olive oil is also finding its place in the Indian kitchen by replacing its counterparts. The most important question to ask here is that does olive oil fit in the Indian kitchen?
Lets understand more about the benefits of olive oil to know where it fits best.
Olive oil nutrition facts
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids and saturated fats
Olive oil is mainly composed of monounsaturated fats-the most predominant being oleic acid. Oleic acid is extremely heart-healthy. Olive oil also contains alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based omega 3 fatty acid that can also be converted by the body into the EPA and DHA fatty acids found in fish oils.
Rich in polyphenols and oleic acid
The extra virgin version of olive oil contains antioxidant polyphenols and oleic acid. This makes it healthier than any other vegetable oil. Polyphenols have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties that help inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria and relieve inflammation.
Rich in vitamin E
It is an excellent source of vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps to protect them from free radicals while also boosting immunity.
Protective effect of Polyphenols in Olive oil
Olive oil polyphenols have been claimed to play a protective role in cancer and other inflammatory diseases. Polyphenol of olive oil induces its protective effect by modulating different signaling cascades including nuclear factor- kappaB (NF-κB) inflammatory response and oxidative stress response.
Olive oil and fruits is a rich source of polyphenols with antioxidant properties. Oxidative stress plays a role in the pathology of psychiatric disorders by causing oxidative damage to lipids, protein, and DNA, followed by damage to cells and organs. Evidence shows that polyphenols mediate their neuroprotective effect by modulating specific signaling pathways involved in cognitive processes and synaptic plasticity.
In Autism, it reduces inflammation, permits the natural healing processes necessary for normal childhood development.
Benefits of Olive oil
Things to consider while buying olive oil:
Purity of olive oil: Olive oil is actually the juice of an olive. Any olive oil that you buy in a store should be 100% olive and not mixed with any other oils such as seed, vegetable or nut oils.
Quality of olive oil: After the olive oil is extracted from the olives, it is graded and assigned a quality level of extra virgin, virgin, etc.
Date of packaging :Quality of olive oil changes over time and depends on storage conditions. Exposure to heat, light and air can degrade the olive oil.
So, always look for recent packaging. Go for small packages, stored in dark colored glass bottles.
Categories of olive oil
Olive oil can be categorized as the following:
Extra virgin olive oil: Purest and best quality of olive oil. It is extracted from the olive fruit via a mechanical press that doesn’t use excessive heat or chemicals to extract the oil from the fruit. This is the ideal type of olive oil you would want to purchase.
Virgin olive oil is taken from the second pressing of the olive fruit, after the extra virgin oil is created. The quality of this version is secondary to extra virgin oil.
Light olive oil or Refined olive oil. It should be avoided. It’s often made from a blend of oils, using low-quality vegetable oils and highly-refined olive oils.
Should We Use Olive Oil For Frying Foods? Here's what you should know before considering olive oil as a cooking medium for all your Indian cooking.
How does heating change olive oil?
Any oil that you use for cooking must be chosen well. Different cooking methods subject the cooking medium to varying degrees of heat. Each oil used for cooking or frying has a temperature at which it breaks down. This temperature is known as the smoke point. Indian cooking methods use a high heating process. The smoke point for olive oil is lower than that of other vegetable oils, which means it gets heated up quickly and can even burn when exposed to high temperatures. Heating oxidizes the oil. Oxidized oils have free radicals. Not only this, cooking on high heat with olive oil can release toxic smoke which contains compounds harmful to our health. So avoid using olive oil for Indian tadka, frying, etc. Some refined olive oils may claim that its fit for frying, etc. Of Course they may be fit as they are refined and do not offer the benefits of olive oil.
Where to use olive oil?
We can use olive oil to make a number of dishes that don't require high heat and are cooked or sauteed on low heat.
Use olive oil for cooking spaghetti or pasta. These are cooked on low heat and using olive oil to make them accentuates the taste and adds a distinct Italian flavor.
Use olive oil to make pesto sauce, dips, sauteed veggies and even marinate chicken or fish or vegetables with it.
Use olive oil to make amazing homemade salad dressings. It balances the acidity in high-acid foods, such as tomatoes, vinegar, and lemon juice, and adds excellent depth to your salads.
Post cooking depth and flavor. Drizzle some olive oil after you finish cooking to add an extra flavor!
So in a nutshell we can say that though olive oil is not only loaded with beneficial fatty acids and powerful antioxidants but also a dietary staple for some of the world’s healthiest populations but still it should be avoided in Indian preparations, which mostly require heating at high temperatures or deep frying since it has low smoke point. They can be used for cooking continental foods, preparation of salads, dressings etc.
Sandhu, K. V., Sherwin, E., Schellekens, H., Stanton, C., Dinan, T. G., & Cryan, J. F. (2017). Feeding the microbiota-gut-brain axis: diet, microbiome, and neuropsychiatry. Translational Research, 179, 223–244. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trsl.2016.10.002
Jimenez-Lopez, C., Carpena, M., Lourenço-Lopes, C., Gallardo-Gomez, M., Lorenzo, J. M., Barba, F. J., Prieto, M. A., & Simal-Gandara, J. (2020). Bioactive Compounds and Quality of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Foods, 9(8), 1014. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods9081014
Shahbaz, M., Sacanella, E., Tahiri, I., & Casas, R. (2021). Mediterranean diet and role of olive oil. Olives and Olive Oil in Health and Disease Prevention, 205–214. https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-12-819528-4.00043-2
Aparicio-Soto, M., Sánchez-Hidalgo, M., Rosillo, M. N., Castejón, M. L., & Alarcón-de-la-Lastra, C. (2016b). Extra virgin olive oil: a key functional food for prevention of immune-inflammatory diseases. Food & Function, 7(11), 4492–4505. https://doi.org/10.1039/c6fo01094f
Santangelo, C., Varì, R., Scazzocchio, B., de Sancti, P., Giovannini, C., D`Archivio, M., & Masella, R. (2017). Anti-inflammatory Activity of Extra Virgin Olive Oil Polyphenols: Which Role in the Prevention and Treatment of Immune-Mediated Inflammatory Diseases? Endocrine, Metabolic & Immune Disorders - Drug Targets, 18(1), 36–50. https://doi.org/10.2174/1871530317666171114114321
Casas, R., Estruch, R., & Sacanella, E. (2017). The Protective Effects of Extra Virgin Olive Oil on Immune-mediated Inflammatory Responses. Endocrine, Metabolic & Immune Disorders - Drug Targets, 18(1), 23–35. https://doi.org/10.2174/1871530317666171114115632
Aparicio-Soto, M., Sánchez-Hidalgo, M., Rosillo, M. N., Castejón, M. L., & Alarcón-de-la-Lastra, C. (2016). Extra virgin olive oil: a key functional food for prevention of immune-inflammatory diseases. Food & Function, 7(11), 4492–4505. https://doi.org/10.1039/c6fo01094f
Gómez-Alonso, S., Fregapane, G., Salvador, M. D., & Gordon, M. H. (2002). Changes in Phenolic Composition and Antioxidant Activity of Virgin Olive Oil during Frying. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 51(3), 667–672. https://doi.org/10.1021/jf025932w