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CHERYL MAJOR: Let’s Talk About Olive Oil

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Cheryl A. Major is a volunteer contributor at Westford CAT. If you would like to submit content or write an ongoing or occasional column, email [email protected] 

Did you know there is a National Olive Day?  There is, and I appreciate and acknowledge it because I love olives!  I love everything about them…all the different kinds, the delicious olive oil, and that they are so healthy for you!

Do you have a favorite type of olive?  I think my favorite is probably the calamata olive, although I love the black oil cured ones, green ones…I guess I love them all.

They are so versatile too!  I chop them up and put them on salads, in socca (a gluten free bread I make), in omelets and so on.

Olive oil is wonderful for cooking and as a salad dressing.  For cooking, it has a high smoke point of 400 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s a better choice of oil for sautéing than vegetable oils are which have a lower smoke point (or may be largely a genetically modified organism, such as canola oil).

Olive oil is a great source of healthy fat.  Years ago during the low fat/no fat craze, most of us avoided consuming fat at all costs.  The fat in olive oil is monounsaturated fatty acids and is considered to be a healthy fat.  It turns out we need good types of fat to maintain healthy bodies and healthy brains. Our brains are approximately 60 percent fat.

An added benefit is that the phytonutrient known as oleocanthal in olive oil acts a lot like ibuprofen does; it reduces inflammation in the body.  Reducing inflammation is now known to be key in avoiding disease and in slowing down the aging process.

One tricky thing is that olive oil, really good quality olive oil, has become very difficult to find.  It’s often not what it’s advertised to be, and is frequently mixed with lesser oils that we want to avoid such as canola oil. Canola is a whole article in itself, but bottom line is – don’t use it!  Canola is derivative of the rapeseed plant, a member of the mustard family.  Most rapeseed is now GMO courtesy of Monsanto.  When you use canola oil or consume products that contain canola oil, you are most likely eating GMO canola oil.  By the way, canola was originally a trademark, not an actual plant and stands for Canada Oil.  The name rapeseed had a bad connotation, so “canola” was invented.

I have a great book suggestion for you today!  It’s a terrific and fascinating book on Olive Oil called “Extra Virginity.”  You will be amazed how difficult and complicated it is to find pure, good quality olive oil!

Cheryl A. Major lives in Westford and is a Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant. Her TV show Thin Strong Healthy airs on WestfordCat and is an offshoot of her blog http://ThinStrongHealthy.com   Cheryl offers ongoing information and coaching to help you feel better and be healthier.  She is also a full time residential Realtor with Coldwell Banker with more than 25 years experience. 

Questions?  Email Cheryl at [email protected] and be sure to put Health Question in the subject line.  Your question and answer will be included in a future article.