There once was a time when oil was just oil to me and all it was used for was making sure the food didn’t stick to the pan. Whether it be scrambling eggs or shallow frying chicken, I did’t really care as long as there was enough oil in the pan. I used to use sunflower oil and/or vegetable oil. It was’t until two occasions I started taking oils more seriously and learning about what’s good for the body and skin.
Occasion 1: When I was living in Italy, unsurprisingly, I couldn’t get away from olive oil. It was in my food whether I liked it or not, always at the dinner table, heaps of it stored in cupboards, on most tables in the restaurants and many more. I was pleasantly surprised by how much olive oil really enhances the taste of many dishes such as adding it to your pasta, using it on sandwiches instead of butter, on salad, marinating meat, the list is endless. As soon as I came back from Italy I never failed to look for olive oil on the table in an Italian restaurant ready to put on my food.
Occasion 2: There was a moment in my life when I completely ran out moisturiser for my hair. It was just washed and dried and in some need of moisture and then I remembered that olive oil is great for pomading the hair. So, I rushed to the kitchen and glossed my hair in olive oil for the first time and that’s all I’ve used since. Once I had put it in, it seemed to be doing the job and then I ran my errands for the day. When I was waiting for my coffee, I ran my hands through my hair and was surprised by how smooth and soft it was because of olive oil.
Olive Oil and Its Types
As we all, and sadly if not, most of us know, olive oil is a liquid fat that comes from, well, olives. It is a huge part of the Mediterranean diet. (a diet encouraged from the eating habits in countries such as Greece, Italy, Spain) The largest producer of olive oil is Spain, followed by Italy, Greece, Turkey and then Tunisia.
There are five different types of olive oils:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the highest quality of all forms of olive oil and tends to be dark in colour in comparison to other olive oils. According to extravirginspain.com extra virgin olive oil needs to follow particular guidelines in order to considered ‘extra virgin.’ These guidelines are,
- Must come from the first pressing of fresh olives, normally within 24 hours of harvesting.
- Must be extracted by non chemical, mechanical means, and without the use of excessive heat, specifically below 28C. The free fatty acid or acidity level must be less than 0.8%. (Unrefined Oil)
- It must be defect free – having a perfect taste and aroma.
- Virgin Olive Oil is made similar to extra-virgin olive oil and slightly lighter in colour. Chemicals and heat are also not used in order to extract the oil from olives in this process. However, unlike extra virgin olive oil, the production standards aren’t as strict with virgin olive oil. The acidity level must be less that 2% and the flavour tends to be less intense in virgin olive oil.
- Refined Olive Oil is goes through a high heat process which generally leaves the oil rather tasteless and almost colourless. It has a higher smoke point which makes it a little better for cooking. The refining process removes the majority of the health benefits from the olive oil but this is an ongoing debate.
- Olive Pomace Oil is the lowest grade of olive oil and is made from the by-products of extra virgin olive oil. It is mild in taste and almost colourless like refined oil.
- Lampante Oil is not fit for human consumption and has a rather rancid smell. It is very high in acidity and flavour and is traditionally used for oil lamps.
3 Benefits of Using Olive Oil Within Your Diet
- Olive oil is rich in antioxidants such as carotenoids, vitamin E hydroxytyrosol and oleuropein. These anti-oxidants can also be found in fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants help protect your body from harmful molecules and is believed to reduce the development of cancer and other harmful diseases. It also helps prevent cholesterol in our blood from being oxidised.
- It is a good source of iron. If you’re anaemic or want have more iron in your diet olive oil is the right direction to go. Iron is a mineral that makes red blood cells which carries oxygen around the body. If your blood cells are not healthy, your body does not get enough oxygen this can lead to fatigue. Iron is also important when maintaining healthy hair, skin, nails and cells.
- Olive oil can contribute to weight loss. A diet rich in olive increases the level of antioxidants in the blood which could potentially lead to weight loss. However this has not been 100% proven. Nevertheless, many people believe that it does help.
Using Olive Oil On My Skin Hair and Nails
- Deep Conditioner. Olive oil replenishes and strengthens the hair similar to normal conditioner. Massaging olive oil into the scalp promotes healthy and moisturised skin in that area as well as hair growth. It leaves the hair feeling extra soft and with a healthy shine.
- Hair Moisturiser. Olive oil can be used to help with split ends and restoring moisture. So if you’re in a rush and don’t want to deep condition your hair, using small amounts of olive can be beneficial.
- After a bath or shower as a moisturiser. When I have finished using shower gel or soap in the shower I put olive oil on my body next so I do not have to worry about moisturising after. Even after I have dried my skin, it still feels full of moisture. This is something I like to do if i am in a rush.
- Make-up remover and cleanser. I’m sure by now you’ve heard of double cleansing and if you haven’t it is basically just washing your face twice. First with an oil based cleanser then followed by a water based cleanser. It’s to ensure you have all of your make-up or dirt build up removed from and both cleansers tackle both of these.
Olive oil has been saving my bacon for years now and it will always be a part of my skin care routine. It is inexpensive, easy to find and can be used for many things.