Extra virgin olive oil decreases in flavor and health benefits over time. Freshly-crushed olive oil is like freshly-squeezed fruit juice in that it contains the most flavor and nutrients. Old, poorly-made and improperly stored extra virgin olive oil yields fewer, if any, health benefits and undesirable flavor.
Becoming familiar with a particular extra virgin olive oil’s flavor characteristics and chemistry (i.e. antioxidant content, oleic acid, FFA, and crush date) will help you make an educated decision about which olive oil to use.
Crucial Olive Oil Chemistry Definition Key
Oleic Acid is a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid found in olive oil. Olive oil is generally higher in oleic acid than other vegetable fats. The range found in extra virgin olive oil is between 55-85%. Extra virgin olive oil that is high in oleic acid has greater resistance to oxidation.
FFA: Based on IOOC standards, the maximum limit for free fatty acid in extra virgin olive oil is 0.8g per 100g (often noted as .8%). A low FFA is desirable. Free fatty acid speaks to the condition of the fruit at the time of crush. The higher the FFA, the greater the indication that poor quality fruit was used, including damaged, overripe or insect-infected; the oil was overheated during production; or there was too much of a delay between harvest and crush.
Peroxide Value: Based on IOOC Standards, the maximum peroxide value for extra virgin olive oil is 20. A very low peroxide value is desirable. Unsaturated free fatty acids react with oxygen and form peroxides, which create a series of chain reactions that generate volatile substances responsible for a musty/rancid oil smell. These reactions are accelerated by high temperature, light and oxygen exposure.
Polyphenol Count: Polyphenols are a class of antioxidants found in a variety of foods. Polyphenols such as oleuropein, oleocanthal, and hydroxytyrosol impart intensity connected with pepper, bitterness and other desirable flavor characteristics. Recent studies indicate that these potent phenols are responsible for many of the health benefits associated with consuming fresh, high quality extra virgin olive oil. Phenols in olive oil decrease over time or when exposed to heat, oxygen and light. Consuming fresh, well-made olive oil with high polyphenol content is crucial when trying to obtain the maximum health benefit.
For additional health benefits, check out this interesting article, Olive Oil: A Natural Pain Killer?
Another article worth a read is A Myriad of Health Benefits Associated with Consuming Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Health Benefits of Balsamic Vinegar
Balsamic vinegar health benefits comprise reduced risks of heart diseases, cancer and other infectious diseases. Moreover, some studies have shown that balsamic vinegar helps prolong wellness, control diabetes, and assist in digestion, etc.
For more details see, Balsamic Vinegar Health Benefits
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