January 13, 2012

Olives - The Wonder Product

India is becoming the world leader in many life threatening diseases. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is now the leading cause of death in India and the risk factors are also on the rise. India is now the diabetes capital of the world and CVD is also poised to be a serious health concern in the near future. The count of “hypertensive” individuals is expected to rise from 118 million in 2000 to 214 million in 2025. CVD strikes early and kills people in their productive mid-life years. The World Health Organization estimates that India would lose US$ 237 billion due to heart disease, stroke and diabetes in the next 7 years.

Most of these diseases are a result of the sedentary life style most of Indians. Lack of physical activity, missing of daily exercise regime, irregular eating, unhealthy snacking and overeating of junk food are the main contributors to this kind of lifestyle. Hence the need of the hour is to eat food which is rich in essential in the nutrients required by the body to stay healthy.

Olive oil is well known for its health properties and extensively used for cooking in the Mediterranean countries. In India, it is mainly used in massage, facials and other beauty treatments. The use of olive oil as a cooking medium is not widely prevalent and restricted to a select few.

Olive Oil is extracted from the Olive fruit after the Olive fruit is pressed. Hence there is no chemical extraction process involved.

Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, antioxidants and vitamin E and is claimed to have a significant effect on cholesterol. Using olive oil as a cooking medium can lower blood pressure and prevent risk of heart attacks. There are numerous other benefits of olive oil making it a vital addition in a healthy diet.

Some Health Benefits of Olive Oil:
1. Olive Oil is good for Heart Health because It contains very high percentage of MUFA.
2. Olive Oil helps in controlling Blood Pressure because it contains Polyphenols that protect LDL (bad cholesterol) from oxidation.
3. Olive Oil can be helpful in preventing Cancer because it contains Oleic acid which reduces the effect of an oncogene (a gene that will turn a host cell into cancer cell).
4. Olive Oil can enhance digestion because it helps body to assimilate vitamins A, D and K and better absorption on nutrients.

What is FAT?
Fats is one of the 3 main macro-nutrient groups that supply energy in food along with proteins and carbohydrates. Fats are essential for our body. They help in absorption of fat soluble Vitamins like A,D E, K into cells.

Type of Fats:
Saturated Fats: They are solid at room temperature eg: ghee, vanaspati (dalda), coconut oil,butter etc. Their high intake increases risk of cardiovascular diseases. As they increase “BAD” Cholesterol (LDL) in the body and lower “Good” Cholesterol (HDL) in the body.

Poly unsaturated (PUFA)- They are liquid at room temperature and are mainly found in vegetable oils like sunflower, soyabean, safflower, corn etc. These oils are highly processed and decrease “BAD” Cholesterol (LDL) in the body but also decrease “Good” Cholesterol (HDL) in the body.  PUFA is hydrogenated to form “Transfats”. Trans fats are harmful for the body and increase the risk of heart diseases.

Monounsaturated (MUFA)- They are liquid at room temperature and are mainly found in plant sources like olive oil. Olive Oil has the highest percentage of MUFA (77%) amongst all the vegetable oils. MUFA is called the “Good” fat as it not only decreases “BAD” Cholesterol (LDL) in the body but also increases “Good” Cholesterol (HDL) in the body.

In India, Olive Oil is not widely used as a cooking medium as some consumers feel that it is not suitable for frying, sautéing and food will have a flavor of olives that will interfere in the taste of the food.
But on the contrary, none of these is true. Olive Oil is perfect for Indian style of cooking; the only thing to keep in mind is which variant to use for a particular recipe.

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