Well-being: more than just condiments, olives and extra virgin olive oil are complete natural foods
So why is extra virgin olive oil so uniquely nutritious? Because it contains 98% triglycerides and 2% of minor compounds essential for the organism.
The triglycerides in extra virgin olive oil are formed from a glycerol structure linked to fatty acids, predominately oleic acid, an unsaturated fatty acid that resists oxidation during the storage and cooking better than other vegetable oils, while maintaining all the benefits of an unsaturated fatty acid.
Linoleic and linolenic acids (ω6 and ω3) are also particularly important. These have to be eaten in foods because our bodies are unable to synthesize them.
The “minor” components are also a crucial part of the benefits of extra virgin olive oil. They include over 230 different substances only present thanks to low temperature pressing and are vital to our health. For example phenols, which determine how spicy an oil is, and tocopherols (fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin E) both have strong antioxidant properties.
Perhaps the most important health benefits deriving from extra-virgin olive oil are:
• it helps maintain normal cholesterol levels in the blood;
• it has powerful antioxidant properties thanks to its high percentage of tocopherols and polyphenols, which counteract free radicals and determine the oil’s spicy flavour.
Extra virgin olive oil is also both easy to digest and highly stable in terms of oxidation. Taken in the correct quantity of roughly 20 g / day, it fits perfectly into a modern, balanced diet.