Thursday, April 14, 2011

Benefits of Cooking with Olive Oil

Olive oil has been used and enjoyed over the years for many purposes. While beauty treatments for the skin and hair are quite popular uses of olive oil, cooking with olive oil has been a fairly common practice since ages too. There are a lot of benefits of cooking with olive oil. While some may be simply to make the process of cooking easier, others may be to invoke a special flavor in your culinary delights. Apart from that, using olive oil in food also has a number of health benefits. This article will tell you about the different uses of olive oil, when used in cooking.

Cooking Benefits of Olive Oil

When we say cooking benefits, we mean the plus points that olive oil has to the actual process of cooking the food. Sure there are different ways of cooking with oil, but all the methods do not use the same oil. Some oils may be suitable for some processes, while some may not. Let us see the different processes that olive oil can be used for.

Drizzling: Well, this may not really qualify as cooking, it sure does add to the aesthetic and flavor value of a salad or a grilled chicken leg, when you take that bottle of olive oil and drizzle it generously over a green or vegetable salad or a grilled chicken leg. It is also used as a healthy marinade.

Frying: Many people doubt the use of olive oil for frying. But here's the good news. Olive oil can safely be used for frying foods. However, you may want to use the bottle labeled simply 'olive oil' rather than 'virgin' or 'extra virgin olive oil'. Simple olive oil is an inexpensive option and also useful because it does not penetrate into the food while getting fried.

Sautéing: Since frying is alright with olive oil, using it to sauté food is also a pretty good idea. It helps to brown and soften the food faster. Use extra virgin olive oil to sauté the food, and maintain a low heat so that you don't end up burning it.

Brushing: The use of olive oil can also be seen before the process of cooking. For instance, just before you roast a piece of meat, you can generously apply olive oil onto the piece of meat, along with its marinade, to give it an extra crumbly crust.

Baking: Whoever thought of this was a genius. We all know that baking involves the use of fatty substances. You can use olive oil instead of these fatty substances like butter or margarine. It will be a lighter and healthier choice.

Health Benefits of Cooking with Olive Oil

Apart from the various cooking benefits of olive oil, this lovely colored oil also has tremendous health benefits. Some of these health benefits of cooking with olive oil have been listed below. Combined with the points given above, you'll have to start looking for reasons not to use this oil in your kitchen.

Lowers LDL Cholesterol
There is good cholesterol and there is bad cholesterol. Good cholesterol is called HDL and bad cholesterol is LDL. Olive oil contains monounsaturated fats. These fats help to bring down the level of bad cholesterol, i.e. LDL, that too without having any kind of adverse effect on the good cholesterol. What else do you need to know?

Helps Prevent Heart Problems
When there is not enough oxygen in our body, free radicals are formed within, which can cause severe damage to our body tissues. Olive oil has anti-oxidant properties that restrict this free radical formation. Anti-oxidants help to prevent heart disease which can be caused by the formation of free radicals. Also, olive oil contains oleic acid, which helps to prevent the clotting of blood in the arteries. In short, consume olive oil for a healthy heart.

Controls Diabetes
Studies have shown that olive oil also helps people suffering from diabetes to keep their blood sugar level in control. The amount of fats consumed by diabetics should be kept in check. Olive oil, as mentioned above, contains healthy fats. So, it helps in keeping the level of fat in check too.

So, as you can see, the benefits of cooking with olive oil are two-pronged. It not only adds to the flavor and overall appearance of the food, it also helps you to maintain a healthy heart and body. So, what are you waiting for? Get your can/bottle/tin today and get cooking!

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