Choosing the right oil largely depends on the type of fatty acid missing or deficient in your overall diet regimen. There are two main essential fatty acids derived from nutrition, namely omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, however, another conditional fatty acid is equally essential: the omega 9 fatty acid. The source of fatty acids vary, asides culinary oils they are also sourced from other food types in their whole forms, such as seeds, nuts, vegetables and even sea foods (oily fish).
Although it is highly recommended we eat a varied diet daily in order to harness adequate nutrients, chances are that we may not eat the other foods that contain these fatty acids (nuts, seeds, and oily fish) daily. This necessitates choosing oils wisely in order to incorporate all the vital fatty acids in our diet plan. Some oils may feature all the fatty acids among other nutrients such as vitamins K and E. The oil extracted from olives is one of such.
Extra virgin olive oil is a store house of amazing antioxidants. Olive oil also contains oleic acid. Studies suggest that oleic acid reduces inflammation and may have beneficial effect on genes linked to cancer. According to research inflammation is the root cause of many ailments.
Oleic acid has also been strongly associated with reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure. It is also noted to improve mood, delay aging, and could prevent cancer. Increased levels of oleic acid in the cell membrane reduce the oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Oleic acid is an important building block of the brain and nervous system. It is required for the formation of myelin (myelin is a lipid-rich substance formed in the nervous system that helps increase the speed at which information travels from one nerve cell body to another) and for nerve growth and repair. This acid also serves several functions in neurotransmitter regulation and much more!
Oleic acid is otherwise known as omega 9fatty acid. Omega-9 fatty acids are considered to be “conditionally essential,” which means that your body produces them, but they are not produced in meaningful quantities. Consuming omega-9 fatty from foods such as olive oil is essential to gain the above stated benefits. This fatty acid can be found in other oils as well; however olive oil has the most concentration of oleic acid according to research.
Another great feature of olive oil is the antioxidant, oleocathal. Oleocathal has been shown to work similarly to ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory drug. Some scientist estimate that the oleocathal I 3.4 tablespoons (50ml) of extra virgin olive oil as similar effects as 10% of the adult dosage of ibuprofen.
The oil is also gentle on the digestive system and may help in preventing gallstones and soothe ulcers. It may even benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, and therefore potentially lower the risk of heart dieses. However, olive oil nutritional value depends on the press type.
In our next article we will talk about the press types.
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Sussanna Jacobs writes from Abuja.