01 Feb This dietitian’s pantry Staples: Extra Virgin Olive Oil
You’ll always find a bottle of extra virgin olive oil in my cupboard. This golden oil is extremely versatile and can be used in a variety of different ways. In fact, the Romans used to bathe in it! I prefer the full-bodied flavoursome type, to eat that is, not to bathe in. But you can opt for lighter flavoured varieties if you like; note that the term ‘light’ in this instance refers to taste and not kilojoules.
Apart from tasting great, extra virgin olive oil is also good for you. Numerous studies have shown olive oil’s ability to cut heart disease by reducing triglycerides and LDL cholesterol (the nasty type) while boosting HDL cholesterol (the good type). It is also jam-packed full of antioxidants. These compounds, specific to olive oil, appear to have free-radical scavenging properties. This means that extra virgin olive oil may also have a cancer-lowering effect due to its ability to reduce oxidative damage. It may also be protective against specific types of cancer such as breast and colon cancer; even more good reasons why extra virgin olive oil is a staple in Mediterranean cooking.
I like to add the liquid gold to my roast veggies, salads, risottos and pasta. And I’ll occasionally team it up with some balsamic vinegar for a delicious condiment on crunchy grainy bread. You can have it any which way. You could even do as the Romans once did and add a spoonful to your next bath… When in Rome, I suppose.