Products for healthy cooking and eating are enjoying enormous popularity as consumers seek to lose weight, improve their overall health, and live better. Many dietitians and gourmands prefer using first cold pressed olive oil in their creations. Olive oil is a common choice when choosing a better alternative to processed, less healthy cooking oils. But how do you choose the best one?
What is First Cold Pressed Olive Oil?
The term consumers are most familiar with is "extra-virgin olive oil." What makes this the premium grade of olive oil? Let's break down the vital components to understand this top-grade product.
Extra-virgin olive oil is made from cold pressed olives. "First-pressed" means the olives used in the process were crushed and pressed only once, as soon after harvest as possible. This first extraction product is the purest and highest quality.
The process involves grinding the olives into a paste and then mechanically pressing them to extract the oil. Some growers actually extract the oil by means of a centrifuge, which is a more efficient and hygienic method. No heat is used – in fact, cold water is added to maintain a cool temperature throughout. Eliminating heat from the process keeps the most important nutrients and beneficial properties intact, as well as ensuring the highest possible flavor profile.
Heat makes the extraction process easier by thinning the oil product, but it destroys some of the richer flavor and nutritional components. A heated process is generally used for low grades of olive oil commonly found on grocery store shelves for cooking. Virgin and extra-virgin olive oils are always cold pressed.
First Cold Pressed Olive Oil Benefits
First cold pressed olive oil benefits are numerous, beginning with its taste. Its purity and earthy flavor make it perfect for sauces, dressings, and dips. It is also a superior cooking oil, making a better alternative to processed cooking oils and even lower-quality olive oil.
First cold pressed olive oil is high in nutrients. Its primary fat is unsaturated, which is incredibly healthy. It is also loaded with vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, and vitamin K, which is vital for healthy bones and blood function.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, first cold pressed olive oil benefits (extra-virgin olive oil) include, per tablespoon (15 ml):
- Calories: 120
- Total fat: 14 grams
- Saturated fat: 2 grams
- Monounsaturated fat: 10 grams
- Polyunsaturated fat: 1.5 grams
- Vitamin E: 12.9% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin K: 6.8% of the DV
- Approximately 30 healthy plant compounds
The USDA also recommends that individuals procure 20-35% of their daily calories from fat, mostly the healthier unsaturated fats. Among the first cold pressed olive oil benefits is the fact that 71% of the product is derived from oleic acid, an unsaturated fat. This critical component helps lower LDL cholesterol, which is the "bad cholesterol" doctors warn patients to keep at low levels. In addition, 11% of the fat in first cold pressed olive oil is in the form of important fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6).
Many potent antioxidants are among the first cold pressed olive oil benefits, due to the lack of heat in processing. Medical authorities have long recommended a diet replete with antioxidants because they ward off free radicals and combat the development of chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
First Cold Pressed Olive Oil Health Benefits
Due to the unique manufacturing process that preserves so many important vitamins and nutrients, there are many first cold pressed olive oil health benefits to be enjoyed. For those seeking to improve their health, just look at all the ways this tasty product can help.
- Reduces Inflammation – Healthy fats, antioxidants, and certain compounds help reduce low-grade inflammation that can contribute to arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer's.
- Protects Against Heart Disease – One of the best first cold pressed olive oil health benefits is its high level of unsaturated fat. Replacing other foods high in saturated fat with extra virgin olive oil reduces factors that contribute to high LDL cholesterol and high blood pressure. These are both major components that cause heart disease.
- Promotes Brain Health – Cooking with high-grade olive oil has been shown to slow the decline in mental sharpness and memory/recall. This includes reducing the effects of Alzheimer's Disease.
- Reduces Your Risk of Type-2 Diabetes – Research shows that frequent use of high-grade olive oil in your diet can reduce your risk of developing type-2 diabetes up to 16%.
- Relieves Constipation – Some studies reveal that using just 5 ml of first cold pressed olive oil a day can help prevent persistent or chronic constipation.