Drizzled on dew-dappled salads, slathered in golden lashings on crusty ciabatta, whipped into a delicate aioli or doing its thing in a classic vinaigrette – there is no denying that olive oil is absolutely delicious and unbelievably versatile. Fortunately for all us oil snobs, it also happens to pack a mean nutritional punch.
Here are a few of the health benefits you will enjoy when you crack open the seals of the locally-produced olive oils you can pick up from Swartland producers like Kloovenburg, Het Vlock Casteel and the Olive Boutique:
It’s filled to the brim with antioxidants …
“Antioxidants in olive oil preserves the oil naturally, and keeps it intact during the cooking process,” explains Ansie Vlok, food scientist and proprietor of Het Vlock Casteel in Riebeek Kasteel.
“In many Mediterranean countries people drink one or two tablespoons of olive oil per day for the health benefits over and above what they have in their food. Antioxidants are great for a number of reasons, but mainly because it blocks free radicals in the body. We all get this naturally from the aging process, from stress and plenty of other sources. Eventually it leads to cancer and other illnesses. When you introduce a high-quality extra virgin olive oil into your diet, it can help your body to protect itself against the devastating effects of these free radicals that damage your cells and cause disease.”
It keeps your blood sugar in check …
“Individuals who suffer from diabetes should only use olive oil,” says Ansie. “It keeps your blood sugar in check, which has an impact on so many processes in your body. It affects everything from your eyes to your mood. This is why it is so important to keep it regulated. Your body produces insulin from your pancreas that should regulate these levels, but in diabetics this process is flawed. When you enjoy a high-quality olive oil as a part of a balanced diet, you will be supplementing any medication you take to manage your diabetes in a healthy, natural way.”
It’s very good for your heart …
“The regular addition of a good olive oil to a balanced diet has the potential to lower your blood cholesterol,” explains Ansie. “You want your blood cholesterol to remain low because higher levels leads to heart issues due to build-up in your arteries.”
According to the findings of countless studies (like this, this and this), olive oil is instrumental in lowering inflammation, keeping LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) from oxidising, improving the condition of blood vessels and preventing excessive blood clotting – factors that play an incredibly important role in overall heart health. It also lowers blood pressure, which is one of the most telling risk factors for heart disease.
There you have it – a few of the utterly amazing health benefits you enjoy when you indulge in the golden deliciousness of olive oils from the Riebeek Valley and further afield. Keep an eye on the blog in coming weeks and months as we share more news and insight from the exceptional producers that make up the Swartland Wine- & Olive Route.
TOP TIP: For guaranteed Extra Virgin Olive Oil with all the before mentioned good qualities: Buy ONLY South African Olive Oil with the SA Olive sticker.