The delicious, versatile and most healthy of oils that forms part of a staple Mediterranean diet is ‘olive oil’.

Olive oil has been used for hundreds of years and not only has numerous health and nutritional benefits, it is gloriously tasty.

Firstly, when buying olive oil, look for dark glass bottles because oils that are liquid at room temperature are susceptible to oxidation caused by heat and light, which destroys the powerful antioxidants in the oil and this means that it can go rancid pretty quickly.

The beneficial antioxidants include Vitamin E and more widely researched polyphenols, which studies show have positive effects on everything from cholesterol levels to cardiovascular health and anti-inflammatory and anti-ageing side-effects.

In fact, the slightly bitter taste you get from a decent bottle is from those same polyphenols so, if your oil is lacking in favour and colour, it’s probably lacking in nutritional value too!

The other thing to look for in olive oil is that it is cold-pressed.  This means that it hasn’t been subjected to heat when processed, which further retains it nutritional value.  ‘Extra virgin’ olive oil means the oil has come from higher quality olives and has not been refined nor diluted so you know you are getting the best of the crop.

When it comes to eating and cooking with olive oil, it is best not to heat oil at high temperatures for all of the aforementioned reasons and to retain its nutritional benefits.  Instead, use a fat thats solid at room temperature such as coconut oil which is a great choice.

So as a great healthy snack or butter/margarine substitute, consider drizzling olive oil on your wholesome bread or in a bowl add some olive oil & a good balsamic vinegar and dip warm fresh bread into it.  What could taste better!

Buon appetito!

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