If you have unhealthy cholesterol levels (or want to prevent them), one of the first things you should examine is your diet. Are you eating foods that help reduce cholesterol? Or avoiding the ones that cause unhealthy cholesterol levels to creep higher?
This series will cover 10 cholesterol-lowering foods you should consider grabbing the next time you're at the grocery store.
About Olive Oil and Cholesterol
This oil is a nutritional superstar -- rich in antioxidants and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that help lower "bad" LDL cholesterol and increase "good" HDL. In fact, in a study of people with high cholesterol, blood samples showed less potential for harmful clotting just two hours after the study subjects ate a meal with olive oil. That's because olive oil is rich in phenolics, plant substances that makes blood less likely to clot. All you need is about 2 tablespoons a day for benefit (use it in place of other fats).
How To Buy and Store Olive Oil:
Purchasing Olive Oil: Buying oil in small sizes, or splitting larger bottles with friends, is a practical way to buy expensive olive oils. Olive oil purchased in bulk should always be poured into smaller containers, preferably in a can or a dark-colored bottle.
Remember - Olives are fruit - olive oil is a fruit juice. Air, heat, and light will cause olive oil to turn rancid (rancid is the flavor which is imparted in an oil after it has undergone the process of oxidation. Since prolonged contact with oxygen is the rot cause of oxidation, rancidity is a common defect, so it should be stored in a cool place in an airtight container).
Rancid Olive Oil: If your oil has a buttery taste, then it's probably rancid.
Ideal Storing Temperature: The ideal temperature for storing olive oil is 57°F or 14 degrees C, although a normal room temperature of 70ºF works very well if the olive oil is stored in a dark area where the temperature remains fairly constant. A kitchen cabinet located away from the stove and away from direct sunlight will work quite well. If you have a wine cellar, store your olive oils there and keep a small amount in your kitchen. Do not put olive oil in a container without a tight cap.
Refrigeration: Refrigeration does not harm most grades of olive oil, but it is not recommended for expensive extra virgin varieties because condensation may develop in the bottle, affecting the flavor. When chilled, or in cold weather, the oil may turn cloudy and even solidify. Such oil will clear again as it warms, so cloudiness should not be taken as an indication that the oil is past its prime. Refrigeration will extend the life of olive oil without harming the oil. Doing so will cause it to congeal and turn cloudy, but should not affect flavor. If refrigerated, olive oil will return to its original, liquid state when warmed to room temperature again. Refrigeration does not harm most grades of olive oil, but it is not recommended.
Bottles: Be sure olive oil bottles are tightly sealed. Tinted glass, porcelain, or stainless steel are the best materials for containers; oil should never be stored in plastic or in reactive metals. Stay away from plastic containers as the oil can absorb PVCs.
How To Cook with Olive Oil:
*Cooking with olive oil is like cooking with wine.*
Never use a wine or olive oil that does not taste good to you. An inferior one will leave an aftertaste. If you do the taste test and compare the "pure" to the "extra-virgin" and the you'll understand the difference.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: When cooking with olive oil, save your extra-virgin expensive oils for salads, dressings, and vinaigrettes. You can also drizzle it over slices of crusty bread or onto open-face sandwiches. Use it on a baked potato or add it to mashed potatoes instead of butter. Extra virgin olive oil tastes great on cooked vegetables or brushed onto fish or meat before serving.
Frying: When sautéing or frying, use either a combination olive oil (one that is simply a blend of extra virgin and regular olive oil) or a straight olive oil.
For deep frying, the olive oil grade "olive oil," is excellent because it has a higher smoke point (410º F) than virgin or extra virgin oils.
"Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food." ~ Hippocrates