Mediterranean Diet’s Secret: EVOO

Nanako extra virgin olive oil brochure

The Mediterranean diet is celebrated for its health benefits and delicious flavours, with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) playing a pivotal role. This golden-green oil is not just a cooking ingredient but a cornerstone of a lifestyle that promotes longevity, heart health, and overall well-being. Let’s see why EVOO is considered the Mediterranean diet’s secret and its many benefits.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the highest quality of all the olive oil types, extracted from olives using mechanical methods only without chemicals or any processing whatsoever. Virgin Olive Oil is a lower quality version. EVOO is pure, natural and unrefined (unlike refined olive oil or pomace olive oil) and, hence, retaining more of the olive’s natural flavours and nutrients. EVOO is a rich, aromatic oil with a very distinct taste that can vary from grassy and peppery to fruity, depending on the olives and region of production.

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EVOO´s health benefits

EVOO contributes many health benefits to the Mediterranean Diet such as:

  • Rich in Monounsaturated Fats. EVOO is high in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that reduces inflammation and lowers the risk of heart disease. These healthy fats help maintain good cholesterol levels as well as overall cardiovascular health.
  • Antioxidant. Packed with powerful antioxidants like polyphenols, EVOO combats oxidative stress and inflammation, reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Importantly, these antioxidants also contribute to healthier aging.
  • Heart Health. Many studies, such as PREDIMED (Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea; Prevention with the Mediterranean Diet), show that EVOO improves heart health by lowering blood pressure, reducing bad cholesterol levels (LDL), and increasing good cholesterol levels (HDL) important for the prevention of heart disease development.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Properties. EVOO’s antioxidants, especially oleocanthal, have significant anti-inflammatory effects, similar to those of ibuprofen, reducing inflammation in the body.
  • Brain Health. Regular consumption of EVOO is linked to improved cognitive function and a reduced risk of many neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. Its antioxidants and healthy fats help protect brain cells from damage.
  • Weight Control. Although it is a fat, EVOO aids in keeping body weight lower. Its high satiety index helps reduce appetite and cravings, leading to lower overall calorie intake. Being rich in EVOO, the Mediterranean diet, is associated with a lower likelihood of obesity.
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EVOO’s unique flavour profile makes it a versatile ingredient in the kitchen. It’s perfect for drizzling over salads, garnishing vegetables, marinades, sauces, mayonnaise or simply for dipping bread, enhancing the taste of dishes without excessive seasoning or unhealthy fats. It’s also ideal for cooking and has been used in the Med region for millennia. Due to its very high oxidative stability it can be used for sautéing, roasting, grilling, braising and even baking, adding depth and richness to many recipes.

EVOO´s History

The history of olive oil production in the Mediterranean dates back thousands of years. Ancient civilizations like the Greeks and Romans considered it a sacred and extremely valuable commodity. EVOO is more than just a food; it is a symbol of heritage, culture, and tradition in Mediterranean countries, often produced using methods passed down over many generations.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is indeed the Mediterranean diet’s secret, contributing significantly to its reputation as one of the healthiest diets in the world. Its exceptional health benefits, culinary versatility, and ancient cultural significance make it an invaluable addition to any kitchen.

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