The olive and its oil represent a fundamental part of the Spanish diet. Cold pressed virgin olive oil is a natural product that is very easy to digest. It has become famous as one of the world’s healthiest oils because it is known to actually help keep cholesterol levels in check.
Spaniards incorporate olive oil into their diet from the time they are just a few months old. The traditional recipes for baby food call for one or two tablespoons of raw olive oil to be added to pureed meat and vegetables after the mix has cooled a bit. This is both for nutritional purposes and to aid digestion.
Olive oil is an excellent source of energy. It reduces gastric acid and helps in the healing of ulcers. It not only aids digestion, but relieves constipation and is beneficial to the pancreas, liver and gall bladder.
Olive oil is now famous for reducing the amount of cholesterol in the blood. It contains anti-oxidants, such as vitamins A D E and K. Researchers are now studying the possibility that it may strengthen bones and enhance skin, regulate the endocrine system and stimulate the absorption of calcium and minerals which, in turn, stimulate growth.
All in all, olive oil is considered to be among the healthiest sources of fat available on the planet. Remember that in order to reap the benefits, experts recommend virgin or extra virgin varieties. Also, if you wish to avoid pesticides, look for organic versions. In Spain these are marked as “cultivo ecológico” and will carry the corresponding certification issued by the region of origin.
To obtain the health benefits of olive oil, you can incorporate it into your day from the time you wake up for breakfast. Start with a drizzle on your toast. You can add a dash of salt or sugar if necessary. Then, use olive oil to dress your salad; along with salt and a splash of vinegar (malt vinegar is especially nice). Finally, look for other ways to incorporate raw, uncooked olive oil into your diet as this is the best way to ensure you get all the vitamins and goodness from this form of “green gold”, as it is known in Spain. For more ideas, read about “Olive Oil in Spanish Cuisine".