Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Olive Oil Polyphenols Reduce Bad Cholesterol and Plaque Formation

A new study reveals polyphenols in olive oil can reduce cardiovascular risks by decreasing bad cholesterol levels and atherogenicity.

By ISABEL PUTINJA on July 20, 2015 from the Olive Oil Times
The results of a recent study have again shown that the polyphenols found in olive oil reduce cardiovascular risks.
Published this month in the Journal of Nutrition, the study “Olive Oil Polyphenols Decrease LDL Concentrations and LDL Atherogenicity in Men in a Randomized Controlled Trial” was conducted by a team of Spanish, Finnish and German researchers.
SEE MORE: Olive Oil Health BenefitsThe objective of the study was to determine if consuming olive oil could have an effect on LDL concentrations and reduce them. LDLs are low-density lipoproteins, better known as “bad” cholesterol. High LDL levels are associated with an increased risk of blocked arteries and heart attack.
As part of the study, 25 healthy European men aged 20 to 59 were asked to consume doses of olive oil which were either low in polyphenols (2.7mg/kg) or high in polyphenols (366mg/kg) for a three-week period.
Tests were then taken on the volunteers to determine the effects of the olive oil polyphenols on plasma LDL concentrations and atherogenicity, i.e. the formation of abnormal fatty or lipid masses in arterial walls.
Those who consumed olive oil high in polyphenols experienced a 12 percent reduction in LDL concentrations while those taking the low dose had only a 5 percent decrease.
The study tested on healthy young men concluded that the polyphenols in olive oilcan reduce cardiovascular risks by decreasing bad cholesterol levels and atherogenicity.
Polyphenols are naturally occurring micronutrients found not only in olive oil but also many other plant foods. Their antioxidant abilities can play an important role in the prevention of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

Fact Check: 3 Common Myths About Olive Oil Quality

Let's dispel some confusion about three fundamental characteristics of liquid gold.
By YLENIA GRANITTO on February 16, 2016 Filed in Olive Oil World
Olive oil is tightly woven in the culture of Mediterranean populations and, though in recent decades we have witnessed an exceptional evolution in production methods as often happens to activities interconnected with ancient traditions, it is also subject to a series of die hard clichés.
We often hear someone asking: “That olive oil is so spicy. Will it not be too acidic?” Or, “It has a wonderful color. Surely it is delicious.”
Let’s dispel some confusion about three fundamental characteristics of liquid gold to make the most of its benefits and encourage careful and scrupulous producers. Here are some of the most common myths:
1. Acidity can be perceived by tasting: False.
The acidity is due to free fatty acids present in olive oil and it is expressed in percentage of oleic acid. This parameter can be defined only by laboratory testing and it is odorless and tasteless, so you cannot perceive it by tasting and you must never confuse it with the bitter taste and the pungent sensations that are distinctive attributes of a good EVOO. In most cases, the more these features are pronounced, the lower the acidity.
Pungency and bitterness are produced by phenolic compounds responsible for the extraordinary health qualities of extra virgin olive oil, such as oleocanthal — an anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor substance named by researchers from Latin: oleo=olive, canth=sting, al=aldehyde for the “stinging” flavor it gives to fresh EVOO.
2. The color is indicative of quality: False.
EVOO can have different shades of color ranging from golden yellow to dark green that depend on the olive cultivars, the degree of maturation of the olives and factors relating to the production processes. Color is not an indication of quality.
That’s why sensory analysis of olive oil requires a special cobalt blue glass, to avoid the influence of color on the all-important sensory assessment.
3. Unfiltered olive oil is more genuine and healthy than filtered olive oil: True and False.
The olive oil we obtain at the end of the extraction process is a product rich in particles of olives – pulp and stone. If not filtered, these tiny pieces initially induce a slight increase of nutritional content.
As time goes by, however, they will reduce, even dramatically, the shelf life of EVOO because they will sediment on the bottom and accelerate the oxidation and the consequent loss of healthful elements. Filtering is important to maintain stability and preserve the healthy qualities.
It is important to clarify that the sensory analysis is the only reliable way to assess quality of EVOO. Only a few features are detectable by laboratory testing, but the condition of extra-virginity can be perceived only according to our olfactory, retro-nasal and gustatory perceptions. Panel opinion is in fact an essential and fundamental element for evaluation in competitions and certifications in general.
In short, no laboratory, nor any machine has so far been able to replace human senses in the analysis of EVOO.

Article by YLENIA GRANITTO / February 16, 2016 from Olive Oil World:

Sunday, February 7, 2016

How olive oil explains Greece’s problems


The hills of Kalamata, on the southern coast of Greece's Peloponnese peninsula, produce some of the best olives in the world. When pressed, they produce an oil that is almost fluorescent green and sometimes described as "liquid gold."
But after much of that oil is pressed in Greek processing facilities, tanker trucks come to take it straight to the sea. In 2012, 60 percent of Greece's olive oil output was shipped to Italy. There, it is packaged in Italian bottles with Italian labels, and then sent around the world. And most of the profits go back to Italy -- according to consultancy McKinsey, Italy captures an extra 50 percent premium on the price of Greek oil.
Why does this happen? A segment by NPR's Planet Money described some of the issues that two Greek entrepreneurs faced when they tried to export their country's oil.
First, they couldn't find anyone in Greece to make a bottle -- they had to have the bottle made in Italy. They had difficulty getting loans to pay for the bottles, and then they were hit with the taxes. Due to Greece's economic issues, the government asked businesses to estimate and pay the taxes they would owe in 2016 ahead of time -- in 2015.
The story hints at some of the more persistent problems in the Greek economy, besides its high-profile and tragic conflict with its European creditors.
Wherever you stand on Greece and Germany, there's certainly plenty of blame to go around. Greece's European creditors continue to negotiate for austerity measures and oppose forgiving Greece's debts, against the counseling of the International Monetary Fund. Under seemingly endless debt and austerity, Greece's economy has shrunk by about a quarter over the last five years, and unemployment is around 25 percent.
But Greece's economic misery is also, to a certain extent, self-imposed. Beyond Europe,  there are many things that Greece might to do to improve its struggling economy by promoting native industry and unwinding onerous restrictions, as James Surowiecki recently argued in the New Yorker.
Many segments of the economy are excessively regulated: A Surowiecki points out, bakeries can only sell bread in a few standardized weights. Other red tape prevents people from starting new businesses and foreigners from investing in Greece from abroad.
The fact that Greece holds only a 28 percent share of the global market for "Greek Feta cheese" and 30 percent of U.S. market for "Greek-style yogurt" also shows a clear commercial opportunity, McKinsey said in its report.
Greece's agricultural sector has a lot of potential. Greece is the third largest olive oil producer worldwide, and is nearly on par with Italy, which is number two after Spain. In fact, Costco changed the source of its Kirkland brand olive oil from Italy to Greece earlier this year after a disease ravaged the Italian crop.
Olive oil alone represents nearly a tenth of Greece's agricultural output, according to Eurostat. Greece also exports honey, wine, fruit and vegetables around the world, and could do much more. Beyond agriculture, some of Greece's most promising sectors are generic pharmaceuticals, aquaculture, elder care, cargo and logistics transport, waste management and tourism, says McKinsey. Tourism alone accounted for over 17 percent of Greece's economy in 2014. Yet, as Surowiecki points out, most tourists in Greece are Greek rather than foreigners, suggesting a huge opportunity.
What would Greece need to take advantage of these opportunities? Financial stability, for one. The credit freeze earlier this year has made life for Greece's food industries even more difficult, freezing imports of necessary farm inputs like fertilizers, pesticides and fuel. Beyond that, Greece needs infrastructure, including larger and more modern production and packaging facilities to take advantage of its agricultural capacity, says McKinsey.
Easier regulation could also help Greek businesses compete internationally. Nearly half of all Greek manufacturers have fewer than 50 employees, Surowiecki says, suggesting that manufacturing is nowhere near economies of scale. And Greece's agricultural units are almost five times smaller than the E.U. average, according to McKinsey.
With a debt at 175 percent of its economy and unemployment approaching 30 percent, things will continue to be tragic for the Greeks. But even in Greece's economic troubles, there are big opportunities.
Ana Swanson is a reporter for Wonkblog specializing in business, economics, data visualization and China. She also works on Know More, Wonkblog's social media channel.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

TΟ ΗΘΟΣ ΠΟΥ ΧΑΣΑΜΕ...: Τυρί καλαθάκι-κεφαλοτύρι από τα χέρια σας....

TΟ ΗΘΟΣ ΠΟΥ ΧΑΣΑΜΕ...: Τυρί καλαθάκι-κεφαλοτύρι από τα χέρια σας....: Ένα καταπληκτικό τυρί...Το φτιάχνουν στη Λήμνο και τη Μυτιλήνη,αλλά και στην Κρήτη...Μοιάζει με το κεφαλοτύρι...Άλλωστε ο τρόπος παρασκε...

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Scam Of Olive Oil, And Its Antidote

"Extra Light"? ...a cheap "Olive" oil or an
expensive mix of seed oil?

Here’s the hard truth: the olive oil in your pantry, the one you bought for its health benefits and for some sliver of the seductive Mediterranean lifestyle, is most likely a scam.

A scam, meaning it probably contains less actual olive oil than you’d ever imagine. A scam, meaning it’s likely been mixed with colorants and other less expensive oils like sunflower-seed oil. A scam, meaning you really have not been getting what you paid for.
The reality is that this kind of fraudulent activity has been going on for centuries, and it isn’t likely to change dramatically any time soon. Not in Italy, or Spain, or Greece, or even right here in the US. It’s ugly, and unfortunate. There are many (many) multi-national commercial forces at play, and almost as many hot-button issues that cross industry lines, such as truth in labeling (a topic that wine trade organizations like the Napa Valley Vintners have taken up in earnest), lax governmental oversight, and underfunded or corrupt food inspection agencies.
It’s an ongoing battle that each of us participates in, every time we stand in front of the olive oil section at our local grocery store. So that’s where I went to review the options; it wasn’t a scientific study, but it replicates the reality of what we see every time we shop.
Tests for olive oil authenticity include clearly labeled harvest dates and availability for tasting before purchase.

What you’ll see on the shelves are oils in clear bottles and colored bottles; colored bottles protect the integrity of the oil better, especially if what’s inside the bottles is in fact 100% olive oil (though it probably isn’t). You’ll also see words and phrases like “light olive oil” and “cold pressed” that don’t actually mean anything; cold-pressed, for example, refers to the time when oil was made using hydraulic presses and there was a distinction between the first (cold) press and the second (hot) press but that process is outdated. You’ll see various statements of geographic origins, such as Spain or Greece or Italy; that may be true, but more likely the oil was grown someplace with less expensive production costs then shipped to another country and bottled there. (It’s the bottling location that somehow legitimates the “origin” identification.)

It’s a system largely strangled with fraud, from the labels on the outside of the bottle to the oil that’s on the inside, and we’ve all been affected by it at one phase or another.

Here’s one step you can take to improve your chances of purchasing real olive oil that actually is what it says it is: turn the bottle around and read the back label. You’ll see an expiration date (usually two years after an oil was bottled) but what you’re looking for in particular is the harvest date; the further away the two-year date is, the fresher the oil is. Only one bottle — from California Olive Ranch – on the five shelves of olive oils in my supermarket indicated the harvest date, however.

Here’s the even better step you can take: seek out stores that sell authentic olive oil from drums, and taste the oil first. I live in Atlanta, Georgia and my source is the E. 48th Street Market in Dunwoody, owned by Charlie Augello who researches an item’s origin before bringing it into the store. The oil is supplied by Joan and Roger Arndt, locals and friends of Augello, from their small olive grove in Umbria.

The Arndt/Augello relationship is the kind of personal connection few of us are likely to have, but the benefits of those relationships are available to informed consumers. You may not have heard yet of Marco Oreggia’s Flos Olei guides to the extra virgin olive oils – it’s written in Italian and translated to English, the updated edition for 2014 is his fifth, and it reviews the olive growing sector in 47 countries including unexpected producers from New Zealand and Japan to South Africa, Nepal, and Brazil. The thick book isn’t just a “Who’s Who”; rather it’s a “This is serious, people.”

Oreggia – a journalist who’s been harassed physically for his work – began researching and writing about olive oil in 1995. In the last five years, he’s seeing more new, small, and often young oil producers who are going back to farming and “the rural world” to recover their parents’ or grandparents’ estate, while also trying to update production methods and achieve top quality. Despite the odds against them, Oreggia believes these newer small producers can succeed by identifying “faithful” distributors in export markets and by reaching informed consumers who recognize the value of a short production chain.

Informed consumers can buy oils like these from purveyors with a transparent, rigorous selection process that wins your confidence, since they essentially travel the world to taste and choose oils on your behalf. Zingerman’s Delicatessen in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for example, carries a range of well-considered oils. They’ve identified Marina Colonna’s Peranzana oil, from her estate in the Molise region of Italy, as their “house” oil. Colonna describes the Peranzana as an “always generous, always giving” kind of tree; its oil is powerful, rich and grassy, with an undertone of rosemary. A simple taste test between Peranzana and any supermarket brand will demonstrate immediately how different the two kinds of oil, and the two kinds of producers, can be.

You may have guessed by now that you’ll be paying more for olive oil that’s authentic and reputable. But the price goes toward keeping those producers authentic and reputable. Olive oil producers in this category belong to the “go small or go home” way of thinking, similar to micro- or nano-breweries and craft distilleries who draw consumers who have a strong aversion to mass-produced brands. The profit margins for these producers are smaller but the taste and appeal of their products, like Colonna’s Peranzana oil, is distinct.

About that taste? Prepare yourself. Real olive oil – the good stuff – will be powerful and peppery and it will catch in your throat. You may cough, your eyes may water. But these are in fact good indications that what you’re tasting – finally! – is authentic. It is also full of the reasons, especially flavor and health, that we were drawn to olive oil in the first place.

Follow me on Twitter @cathyhuyghe.
Cathy HuygheContributor
full bio →
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

For further reading on this subject, see Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil by Tom Mueller, Italian Lessons by Joan L. Arndt, and Flos Olei 2014: A Guide to the World of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, by Marco Oreggia. Flos Olei is also available as an iPhone and iPad app.

Forget the IRS — There’s an Olive-Oil Scandal Afoot

Credibility problems?  Check. 

Overreach? Check. 

Finger-pointing? You betcha

We have an oil problem on our hands, and it has nothing to do with renewable energy and carbon emissions.
When experts convened recently at the 104th annual meeting of the American Oil Chemists’ Society, there was heated debate over what to do about olive oil. Even though concerns over poor quality, mislabeling and outright fraud surfaced a few years ago, olive oil continues to be plagued with credibility issues, even as it finds its way into more American homes and countries around the globe attempt to set quality-control standards. The state of extra-virgin olive oil — which is extracted from olives via mechanical means, not chemicals or heat — has been particularly controversial. While some industry insiders insist that stories of rampant adulteration are greatly exaggerated, others beg to differ.
Among the conference participants was Dan Flynn, executive director of the Olive Center at the University of California at Davis, who a few years earlier had assessed the quality of extra-virgin olive oils in supermarkets based on standards set (but not enforced) by the U.N.-chartered International Olive Council as well as two additional chemical criteria. Shockingly, he found that 69% of imported olive-oil samples and 10% of California samples failed to meet sensory standards such as having more than zero fruitiness and not being rancid. Thirty-one percent were also deemed oxidized or of poor chemical quality. This year, Flynn followed up with more bad news. Among 15 samples of extra-virgin olive oil from restaurant suppliers, one was adulterated with canola oil, and a whopping 60% failed to reach sensory and chemical standards defined by the term extra-virgin.
Last spring, in the hope of improving matters, the USDA invited olive-oil brands to comply voluntarily with its Quality Monitoring Program. But so far only one company — Pompeian, the second largest olive-oil bottler in the U.S. — has chosen to participate. To do so, Pompeian officials say, they have had to greatly increase the size of their quality-control department, spending “several hundred thousand dollars” for staffing, training, research and record keeping.
Some industry groups argue that monitoring simply isn’t feasible. The vast majority of olive-oil brands in supermarkets come from companies that don’t own a single olive tree. They obtain the oil from middlemen, who don’t necessarily get it directly from the grower (or, in most cases, growers). With so many hands in the vat, it’s tough to know when and where adulteration or spoilage occurs unless there’s an inspection at every step of the way. And let’s not forget about the shippers and retailers involved before that bottle ends up in your pantry — even the best oils will deteriorate if left in a hot truck or near a sunny window.