February is Heart Month both in the US and Canada, and unfortunately, most of us know someone who has had heart disease or stroke. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States; one in every three deaths is from heart disease and stroke, equal to 2,200 deaths per day. And in Canada, heart disease and stroke take one life every 7 minutes and 90% of Canadians have at least one risk factor. Scary stats indeed and so it seems timely to look at some foods that can indeed help fight heart disease.
tells us about
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
This oil, made from the first press of olives, is especially rich in heart-healthy antioxidants called polyphenols, as well as healthy monounsaturated fats. When olive oil replaces saturated fat (like butter), it can help lower cholesterol levels. Polyphenols may protect blood vessels.
Tip: Use for salads, on cooked veggies, with bread. Look for cold-pressed and use within six months.
shares some olive oil food facts.
- A tablespoon of olive oil contains about 120 calories and 14 grams total fat.
- 'Light' olive oil refers to the light color and milder flavor - it is not lower in fat. 'Light' olive oils also have a higher 'smoke point,' so they may be used for high heat sauteing or frying.
- Light olive oils have the same calories as other olive oils, about 120 calories per tablespoon. There is no official definition for 'light' olive oils.
- Olives are generally cold pressed with millstones (modern facilities may use hydraulic presses).
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil is from the first pressing of the best olives, with an acidity of less than 1%.
- Virgin Olive Oil is from the first pressing of top quality olives, with an acidity of less than 2%.
- Just plain Olive Oil is a blend of virgin and refined olive oil with an acidity of less than 1% - it lacks the good flavor and complexity of virgin olive oils.
- Refined oils use chemicals or heat to extract additional oil after the first cold pressing.
- Over 90% of world olive production is used to make olive oil.
gives us some tips on using olive oil.
Why Use Olive Oil? It's A Friendly Fat -
Until recently, fat phobia struck all fats alike. Now we know that certain kinds of fats can actually be healthful. Olive oil is chief among the “healthy fats.” A primary player in the Mediterranean diet, olive oil is a monounsaturated fat that actually helps lower cholesterol.
How to Choose an Olive Oil -
The best extra-virgin olive oils are estate-grown and first cold-pressed. This means the olives are grown on the estate where they are picked and pressed without the use of chemicals or the application of heat, and only the juice of the first pressing are collected. This yields a flavorful, fruity oil with low acidity and deep color. These oils are, as you can probably guess, pretty expensive--as much as $100/bottle! You can usually find a less fancy but still tasty extra-virgin olive oil for around $10. Stores also sell olive oil without the extra-virgin label. This oil has a slightly more bitter flavor but can be used in cooking.
When to Use Olive Oil -
Use your best olive oil when you are making salad dressing with it, or serving the oil as a dip for bread like they do in Italian restaurants. You can also use olive oil as a healthier option anytime butter is called for in cooking. However, be aware that olive oil has low smoking point and loses flavor at high heat. If you're frying foods at very-high temperatures, try light olive oil, a less-flavorful oil refined specifically to raise its smoking temperature. ("Light"¯ in this case only refers to flavor, not reduced calories.)
gives us a simple garlic and olive oil dressing or marinade.
Garlic and Olive Oil
Makes 4 servings
1/4 cup light olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon white sugar
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/3 teaspoon ground dry mustard
In a blender or food processor, blend the olive oil, lemon juice, sugar, garlic and mustard until smooth. Toss with fresh greens or vegetables.
Calories - 125
Total Fat - 14g
Saturated Fat - 2g
Cholesterol - 0g
Sodium - less than 1mg
Potassium - 12mg
Total Carbohydrates - 1.2g
Dietary Fibre - .1g
Sugars - .4g
Protein - .1g
Vit A - less than 1%
Vit C - 6%
Calcium - less than 1%
Iron - less than 1%
Thiamin - less than 1%
Niacin - less than 1%
Vit B6 - less than 1%
Magnesium - less than 1%
Folate - less than 1%