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what are trans fats?

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learn how to read labels for trans fats

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flax seed oil

the dangers of trans fats

healthy low fat snacks

healthy pie crust

all about extra virgin olive oil

trans fats in unexpected places

  soybean oil

interesterified fat

 

All about extra virgin olive oil

extra virgin olive oil

So, you want to reduce saturated fat and trans fat in your diet. You've heard that some of the best fat for you is found in olive oil. But, how do you select the best olive oil?

When you go to the store, there is a startling array of olive oil products on the shelves. Not only are there different brands and sizes, there are countless varieties with labels that say things like cold-pressed, virgin, pure, light, extra virgin and first pressing. To add to the confusion, there are seasoned olive oils, infused with herbs and spices. The health benefits of consuming olive oil which has been shown to decrease the bad cholesterol and increase the good cholesterol in the blood stream have encouraged more brands and variations into the market.

Olive oil is made from olives. There are hundreds of different types of olives how extra virgin olive oil is madeand they can each be graded for quality and acid content. The oil is extracted when the olives are squeezed or pressed; the oil is then strained and refined. Different processes can be used to press the olives; these account for the terms "expelled pressed," "cold pressed," and "mechanically pressed" on the olive oil labels. Since these terms are not standardized, it is difficult to determine what each term means for each particular brand of olive oil.

The term extra virgin does have a standard definition as it applies to olive oil. In order to be labeled extra virgin olive oil, an olive oil product must be made only from the top grade of olives and they must have less than one percent of acid content. In addition, extra virgin olive oil is always made from the first pressing of the olives. Oil made from second and third pressings is lower quality and usually has inferior flavor. Extra virgin olive oil is not heated when it is pressed it uses a process known as cold pressing and most people feel this leads to a higher quality oil as well. With all of these advantages, it is clear that extra virgin olive oil is the best quality. Most discerning chefs refuse to use anything but extra virgin olive oil for their cooking.

While selecting extra virgin olive oil narrows the field, there are still many choices. The type of olive and the processing both affect the flavor and characteristics of each individual oil. Good extra virgin olive oil should have a nice texture and consistency. Avoid oils that are too thin or that are viscous or thick. The best extra virgin olive oils have a fresh green color and a delicate yet distinctive zesty taste.

The only way to really find the best extra virgin olive oil is to taste several. You may find that you want to stock several extra virgin olive oils, since the characteristics of each will complement different foods and uses. For example, you may want to use one extra virgin olive oil for salad dressings or just dip your bread into it to eat, while you use another extra virgin olive oil for cooking your marinara or pizza. If you only purchase one oil, do not select a flavored variety; seasoned olive oils are novelty items that are used for specific purposes and cannot be used in as versatile of ways as plain extra virgin olive oils.


 

   
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