By Alanna Ketler
Olive oil has been around for thousands of years, in fact, olives are one of the oldest known foods. While there is a lot of information on the subject, it is no doubt that the oil extracted from olives is an extremely healthy oil. In fact it is safe to say that it is one of the healthiest oils that is available to us today. With its array of benefits including: anti-inflammatory properties, cardiovascular, digestive health, bone health, eyesight, anti cancer and many more benefits, olive oil truly is an incredible super food!
Most people are aware of the amazing benefits that olive oil provides, but the majority of people are not aware of the adverse properties that the olive oil contains when it is heated. When heated, even at extremely low temperatures all the amazing enzymes and health benefits that the oil contains are destroyed, and in turn the oil itself transforms into a trans fat. This is of the worst types of fats to consume including animal fats. Man made trans fats can increase your ‘bad’ cholesterol and decrease your ‘good’ cholesterol.
Even heating olive oil at a very low temperature causes this oil to transform into this unhealthy, rancid state. Olive oil is better left alone, the way it is, at room temperature. Olive oil is excellent for making salad dressings, using as a dip for bread, and you can even drizzle it over your favorite cooked dishes for that divine, distinctive flavor.
When purchasing olive oil from the store there are a few important things to look out for. There is a lot of demand for this oil, and unfortunately the supply does not meet this demand. Many of the oils that are sold in the store as pure olive oil are actually mixed with other oils to expand the amount of actual olive oil that is used. There are standards that are used for pure olive oil. The IOCC International Olive Oil Council labels the oil which contains the true standards for the popular ‘Extra Virgin Olive Oil,’ and ‘Virgin Olive Oil.’ If you do not see the IOCC label, it may not be what it claims to be. Another thing to look out for is making sure that the oil is ‘Cold Pressed.’ This means that the olives are not heated while the oil is being extracted, that is very important. If the oil is heated at all, it completely defeats the purpose of even using this oil.
Now, you may be wondering now ‘What the heck am I supposed to cook with?’ Well there is an excellent substitute for olive oil… Coconut oil! Coconut oil is a natural, also extremely healthy type of oil, that can be heated to much higher temperatures without losing all of its essential nutrients and turning into a trans fat. There is a bit of a stigma around coconut oil because it is in fact a saturated fat, but it is a healthy saturated fat. (Breast milk is actually 50% saturated fat and it is regarded as the healthiest thing to ingest.) Coconut oil can assist in: weight loss, high blood pressure, heart disease, bone health, digestion, diabetes, cancer and many other ailments. It also contains lauric acid, which has antifungal and antibacterial properties. It
Coconut oil is solid at its natural state, so when cooking with it, you just scoop it out, and add it to your pan or pot or whatever, it will melt pretty quickly. When storing, you should keep it in a cool dark place, but NOT in the refrigerator. If it is kept in a warm area it will liquefy.
A great thing about coconut oil is that there are a few different varieties. You can buy it specifically for cooking and this type has virtually no taste or smell, so no, all your food won’t have a tropical twist to it! I enjoy using the tasteless type for cooking, and I like to use the extra virgin raw type that has a mild coconutty flavor. I use this kind to just eat straight, or spread on toast. It is delicious! One thing to make sure of is that you are buying raw, organic 100% coconut oil. Read the labels.
Not only is this oil great to ingest, but also it can be used topically for a number of different things. It is a great to rub on dry hands, chapped lips, and it can be melted and applied to your hair as well!