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Gourmet Oil and Vinegar

Gourmet Oil and Vinegar

Archive for February, 2009

Olive oil and anti-inflamatory properties

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

The Anti Inflammatory Properties Of Virgin Olive Oil are Revealed in a New Study

A study was conducted by researchers at the Hospital Universitario Reina Sofia de Cordoba to see if the consumption of micronutirients of certain fats would modify the inflammatory process of healthy people in regards to cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. It was determined that a diet rich in butter has a damaging effect, a diet rich in nuts has an intermediate effect and a diet rich in extra virgin olive oil has a moderate effect on the downward trend of health.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism or Atherosclerosis, journals which are devoted to the nutrition field, support the finding of Doctors Francisco Perez Jimenez and Jose Lopez Miranda and their team at the Lipids and Atherosclerosis Unit of the Reina Sofia University Hospital and has been collaborated with the Jimenez Diaz Foundations Laboratory of Experimental Nephrology and Vascular Pathology.

Observations were made during the study that olive oils reduced the plasmatic concentration of molecules that favor inflammation and express in the walls of blood vessels. This is further confirmation that consumption of olive oil and its properties leads to an improvement in the inflammatory states. A high level of micronutrients in the olive oil is believed to be the reason for this effect. Even though scientists are still not sure of the remainder of the effects of these micronutrients, they do believe that one property they posses is a similar characteristic of anti-inflammatory medications.

Properties of Antioxidants

At the Reina Sofia Hospital, the Lipids and Atherosclerosis Unit is researching what the long term benefits of the actual consumption of olive oil are; “The main property of olive oil is its richness of antioxidants, which makes it a unique fat. Therefore, we must clarify which is the added value of its components, as that is the only way to establish that a healthy diet must contain live oil as its main fat” are the words from Doctor Pablo Perex Martinez. He further states that “olive oil is a key food in the Mediterranean diet as it is its main source of fats and provides it with high-nutritional-value micro-components.” Through his research, he believes that your LDL (bad cholesterol) is reduced by a diet featuring olive oil. He also believes that this diet will improve the condition of diabetes, reduce the likelihood of those that are suffering from thrombosis and will also bring down arterial pressure. As technology improves each and every year, we are realizing the production of other oils that have similar traits to olive oil. These are the oils that are extracted from things like canola, soya and sunflower seeds. The doctor believes that there is a major difference though as he states, “olive oil is a natural juice, which contains hundreds of non-fatty micro-components of biological interest, such as Vitamin E, carotenes, scalene, chlorophyll and, especially, phenolic compounds.”

Benefits of Micronutrients

The benefits of having a diet that is modeled after the Mediterranean diet is again confirmed by a study conducted by Doctor Perez Martinez as he states, “a model of feeding with a high monounsaturated fat content from virgin olive oil, able to induce a wide range of biological effects on the cardiovascular system”. Furthermore, Consuming olive oil that is rich in micro-components, such as those found in extra virgin olive oil, current studies are defining that there are benefits or conditions are turned in your favor regarding anti-inflammatory conditions.

olive oil, anti-inflammatory 


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Pasta Red Sauce With Basil, Olive Oil, And Balsamic Vinegar

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

What is it about the winter that makes us crave pasta in red sauce? Maybe it is the chill in the air, not really sure but something about this time of year begs for this dish and it brings that homey feeling to your kitchen. Good pasta is lets us stare all those anti-carb diets in the face with defiance. Opening up your door after a day digging the car out from a foot of snow or shoveling your payment goes from tired and weary to smile and appreciation when you get a whiff of that incredible red sauce. Here is a recipe for a base sauce, you can adjust it to taste or allergies as you like.

You will need the following ingredients for this dish:

  • Salt
  • Pepper, fresh ground
  • Two cans peeled tomato product, unseasoned and large
  • Garlic, one full head, peeled
  • 2 white onions, chopped or diced, try a Walla Walla sweet
  • Parsley, oregano, basil, (fresh thyme rosemary or oregano if you like)
  • 1 bunch fresh basil torn or diced leaves
  • 8 oz chopped mushrooms
  • 1 C red wine, DO NOT USE COOKING WINE
  • 1/2 C balsamic vinegar
  • 2 pounds chunk or ground meat, you can use beef, veal or pork
  • 3 T olive oil or butter
  • 1 C stock: parmesan, beef or chicken broth (recipe to follow, you can also use water if necessary, 1 parmesan rind (if you have it)

You are also going to need a large lidded pot, cutting board and knife, and something to stir with (a rubber spatula or wooden spoon is preferred).


Keeping ingredients separate, cut down to small portions. Over medium heat, warm the pot and then add your oil or butter. When that has been brought up to temp, add meat and constantly stir until it is well browned. (Ground meat may cause fats to be gathered in dish so you will want to strain them off before going forward.)

Put onions in pan and combine with meat.

Continue stirring until the onions turn to a golden brown color and then add some garlic. Continue stirring until the garlic is browned and then put mushrooms in. Stir everything together and then place lid on the pot. As the mushrooms are cooking, they will purge their natural water, continue cooking until pan gets dry again. At this time, you can add the tomatoes.

Upon emptying cans, rinse them with the broth (or water) so you get the remains of any tomato that was left behind in the can. Add the rest of the garlic, herbs (both fresh and dried), wine and parmesan rind.

Lower the heat to a simmer and allow to cook while periodically stirring.

Allow to cook for as long as possible up to about 5 hours. The longer it cooks, the more flavor you will get. On occasion, return to stir and taste. Ideally, you want it to taste better than store bought sauce and that is achieved after about one hour. For best results, you will want it to cook from 2-5 hours, anything longer tends to be too much.

If you find that the sauce is thickening to the point of sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning, thin it out with more red wine, water or your stock.

If you did use fresh herbs and a parmesan rind, remove them and then season to taste. This dish will serve well on the cooking day (season with fresh basil) or will hold well for many days. The longer you hold this sauce, the more the flavors will blend together. Many people believe that the sauce is so much better the second day that they let it sit overnight before serving.

 red pasta sauce


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Cauliflower With Drizzled Olive Oil

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

The trick in serving cauliflower is all in the preparation. If you overcook it, it is just plain disgusting or if you serve it plain, it is very drab and boring. However, you will see this vegetable featured in soups, gratins, curries, risotto, pastas and salads from India to deep in the Mediterranean. When you go to the produce section in the winter, it is all but bare save for Cauliflower, which is actually at its peak.

While most of us are used to the plain white cauliflower, there are many varieties currently available today: purples, light green and pale oranges are examples. They all have similar tastes so you can liven up your recipes by substituting them for each other at any time.

Cauliflower is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family which feature phytonutrients and enzymes, in fact, it is loaded with them. These will help neutralize damaging toxins that can hurt your bodies cells. Cauliflower is also loaded with other beneficial properties such as the vitamins, B5, B6, C, and K. It is also rich in folate and dietary fiber along with being a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and manganese. This is more than enough reason to make sure that you include it in your diet plan.

If your children are like most and grimace when you put a big bowl of steaming cauliflower on the table, try serving it raw. For whatever reason, the kids who scream the most about eating veggies will actually gobble up raw cauliflower.


Goat Cheese Topped Cauliflower Gratin

This is a great vegetarian dish and super easy to make.

  • 2 pounds of cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 3 T olive oil, extra-virgin
  • Salt
  • Pepper, Fresh ground
  • 6 oz goat cheese, fresh
  • 1 garlic clove, shoot removed and cut in half
  • 5 T milk, low fat
  • 1 t thyme leaves, fresh (you may use a ½ of dried if fresh is not available)
  • 1/4 C breadcrumbs, dried

1. Get a 2 qt gratin dish and oil it up while pre-heating oven to 450 degrees.

2. Bring water to boil and place cauliflower in steaming basket about one inch above the waterline. Place cover over basket and allow to steam for one minute. After one minute, allow steam to escape for 15 seconds by lifting the lid. Replace cover and stead for an additional 6-8 minutes, cauliflower will be tender. Remove from steaming dish and run under cold water, pat dry with paper towels and then place in gratin dish.

3. Add an ample amount of salt and pepper and then toss with half of the thyme and 2T of olive oil. Evenly spread in dish.

4. In a mortar, place garlic and 1/4t of salt, use pestle to mash into paste. Move over to food processor and combine with goat cheese and milk and blend until smooth. Combine remainder of thyme and pepper to taste. When complete, spread mixture evenly across the top of the cauliflower.

5. When you are ready to place gratin in the over, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and then drizzle the remainder of the olive oil on top. Place in over and bake for 15-20 minutes. You should see a light brown color and dish should be sizzling. Serve immediately.  Yield: Serves 4


Olive Oil and the struggle against cancer

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

Cancer vs Olive Oil

There is not an authentic Italian dish around that does not feature olive oil. It is not coming to light that it may have the ability to help in the struggle against Cancer.

At the University of Granada and the Catalan Institute of Technology, researchers have found that high quality extra-virgin olive oil may has properties that have been known to trigger cancer cell death. These are chemicals called photochemical polyphenols.

Javier Menendez, the study coauthor, has been quoted saying. “Our findings reveal for the first time that all the major complex phenols present in extra-virgin olive oil drastically suppress over expression of the cancer gene HER2 in human breast cancer cells,”

Lab experiments have been conducted by researchers where they separated the oil into fractions and then tested them against breast cancer cells. It was found that the extra virgin olive oil that contained the photochemical polyphenols effectively inhibited the HER2.

It has been concluded by the study authors that a new anti-breast cancer drug may be developed using these polyphones as a safe platform.  SOURCE: BMC Cancer, 2008;8:377

Fighting breast cancer with olive oil

A new weapon in the fight against breast cancer and in creating new drugs for the battle could be olive oil as they have found that chemicals that stop the growth of cancerous cells is also found in olive oil.

Olive oil has long been a staple of the people of the Mediterranean and has been proven to be effective in defeating certain types of cancer. It has been discovered by researchers that cancerous cells are affected by isolated chemicals that are an active ingredient in olive oil.

There is a protein that is produced by the plant and in the oil that has been proven to block a protein know to be in breast cancer cells. This research was conducted by a team at the University of Granada, located in Spain.

The HER2 protein is present in about 20% of breast cancer tumors, this protein has an accelerated growth rate when compared to other forms of cancer. There is hope in the prention of cancer and its return as drugs such as Herceptin have proven to be effective. The BioMed Central journal as reported that lignans and secoiridoids may also be effective in the same manner of Herceptin.

A team member from the University of Granada, Antonio Segura-Carretero and a representative from the Catalan Institute of Oncology, Javier Menendez are quoted as saying: “Our findings reveal for the first time that all the major complex phenols present in extra-virgin olive oil drastically suppress over expression of the cancer gene HER2 in human breast cancer cells”.

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil eliminates the step of heating or adding chemical elements during the refining process. It is merely the product of pressing olives and extracting the oil. The elimination of this process allows the phytomchemicals to remain.Two of the chemicals that remain in the oil, lignans and secoiridoids, were isolated by the team and then they were tested in the lab against breast cancer cells.

Since the concentrations that will in fact lower the HER2 are much higher than can be naturally found in food, the authors of the study suggest that their results cannot be extrapolated to our natural diets that include good quality extra-virgin olive oil. That is oil that still contains polyphenols. They are quoted as saying: “These findings, together with the fact that that humans have safely been ingesting significant amounts of lignans and secoiridoids as long as they have been consuming olives and extra-virgin oil, strongly suggest that these polyphenols might provide an excellent and safe platform for the design of new anti breast-cancer drugs”.

Dr Joanna Owens, Cancer Research UK A senior cancer information officer, Dr Joanna Owens, Cancer Research UK , said: “We already know that a Mediterranean-style diet can help to protect against cancer, which includes cutting down on saturated fats often found in chocolate, crisps and cakes in favor of the monounsaturated fats found in foods like olive oil. “In this study the researchers separated out the natural plant chemicals in olive oil and looked at their effects on different types of breast cancer cells in the lab – but the concentrations they’ve used are much higher than you could ever obtain from eating olive oil.

“This research is at a very early stage but investigating the potential of plant chemicals is an exciting area of research that could pave the way for the development of cancer-preventing drugs in the future.”

olive oil, health benefit, prevent cancer

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Olive Oil Fights Cancer

Thursday, February 05th, 2009

A new way to help fight cancer is olive oil, according to new research. Even though extra virgin olive oil is a favorite in Italian cuisine, it can also be beneficial in helping to fight cancer.

There are special chemicals that are known to kill cancer cells: photochemical polyphenols. The chemicals were discovered at the University of Granada and the Catalan Institute of Oncology. These chemicals are found in fine extra virgin olive oils. According to the coauthor Javier Menendez his research has found that the major complex phenols contained in extra virgin olive oil can extremely hold back the rapid growth of HER2, a cancer gene that is found in breast cancer cells.

During lab experiments when researchers separated the parts of oil into fractions and tested those the portions that had extra virgin photochemical polyphenols, it was discovered that they constrained HER2 gene. It was discovered that the polyphenols, found in olive oil, could contribute a safe and great base for the creation of anti-breast cancer medicine.

Source: BMC Cancer, 2008:8:377

Olive oil may be able to fight breast cancer.

Since researchers have discovered that olive oil contains chemicals that keep cancer cells from multiplying, it may become a new way of making new medicines to help fight certain cases of breast cancer. We can protect ourselves against types of cancer by using olive oil, a popular Mediterranean diet.

A group of researchers at the University of Granada, located in Spain, have discovered two isolated chemicals that may be an important component in olive oil, that would block a protein that is linked with certain types of breast cancers.

About one fifth of the tumors that are found in breast cancer patients contain the HER2 protein and can spread more rapidly that any other types of cancer. A drug known as Herceptin, can help to fight these forms of cancer and possibly aid in controlling them if they should return.

A new study according to the journal of BioMed Central shows that secoiridoids and lignans produce the similar result as Herceptin does.

When olives are pressed without the use of chemicals or heat, extra virgin olive oil is the result. Extra virgin oil has phytochemicals that can be lost in the conversion process.

A cancer information officer, Dr Joanna Owens, at the Cancer Research in the United Kingdom concludes that if one uses a Mediterranean diet containing olive oil, and by decreasing the amount of saturated fats contained in Cakes chocolates and other foods then they can help protect themselves against cancer.

The oil used in the lab experiments done by researchers have a lower concentration than those of people who actually consumed olive oil in their diets. Learning more about plant chemicals is still at a beginning stage, but is a good step in the direction for developing medicines that can prevent cancer.

olive oil fights cancer

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Olive Oil for taste and health

Thursday, February 05th, 2009

Olive oil in the kitchen for your health

Food will absorb less olive oil when used during cooking because when it gets hot it will expand in amount, thus requiring a smaller amount of olive oil. Olive oil can be reused up to three times. Many argue five times, but it is best not to use more than twice. Olive oil can transfer flavors from one food to another. It is best not to fry meats in it after you have fried fish. It can be helpful to keep a jar for meat and a jar for fish in the refrigerator, so they don’t get mixed up. Lastly, Olive oil may have a thick appearance but really contains no more calories sunflower oil.

Olive oil for health purposes. During the 13th century, doctor Amau de Vilanova for the Catalan royal family, discovered that a regular intake of olive oil could help the bodies vital functions. Later in the 20th century it was discovered by American doctor, Ancel Keys, that cardiovascular disease could be lowered by using a Mediterranean diet.

Modern nutritional research has proved that the Mediterranean people knew and used their instinct all this time. Heart Disease has been a big stumbling block of modern society, and is rapidly growing. It has been discovered by Dr. Keys and his followers that the people who live in the Mediterranean have better cardiovascular health. The first medical studies were done on olive oil in that area.

The researchers found that olive oil can reduce the risk of heart attack by keeping cholesterol levels in balance. It can also help reduce high blood pressure and prevent arteriosclerosis. More research was done later on for digestion, diabetes and cancer. Olive oil was beneficial to a lot of these problems.

One study involving virgin olive oil, included using two tablespoons daily until the positive effects were achieved like those of the Mediterranean people. 

Adding olive oil to you diet is simple.

To begin using olive oil in your diet simply sprinkle over salads with salt, use it for your sandwiches in place of butter, and put olive oil on toast and bread. Most all people in Tunisia, Morocco, Provence, Italy, Andalusia, and several other parts of the Mediterranean will be found eating raw olive oil with their bread. Many people like to enjoy Catalan bruschetta, It is made quickly by adding tomato to bread or toast.

To make Catalan bruschetta, simply rub a slice of bread with olive oil, sprinkle some salt, and cut a ripe tomato and rub it on bread and enjoy.  If you would like to add more to this basic recipe, just incorporate a topping that you like, such as, tuna fish, figs, olives, cheese, cooked ham, or anchovies.

Many other recipes using raw olive oil may include, thyme soup, authentic allioli, cold sauces such as romesco, and sopa de farigola. A complete Mediterranean diet has been shown to have many health benefits, not just from olive oil alone. 

olive oil, health benefits 

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Spanish Olive Oil For A Healthy Mediterranean Diet

Thursday, February 05th, 2009

Olive oil – beneficial to your kitchen and your health.

In the past there were many myths that extra virgin olive oil wasn’t healthy, until the fact became known that the exact opposite was true. In fact has become a accent of eating healthy.

Olive oil is made up of healthy organic oleic acid which is more easier than other fat containing acids, olive oil is beneficial. It consists of monounsaturated fatty acids which are about 75% of the monounsaturated fat found in oleic acid.

Another reason that organic extra virgin olive oil is healthy is because it has vitamins A and E that can prevent early aging. Olive oil contains phenols, which are high levels of antioxidants. They can be found to help buffer the oxidation process, and help save the properties of olive oil.

High temperatures will not affect the oxidation of olive oil like seed oils, therefore making it the best vegetable oil for frying foods. Frying is a widely used method for cooking that is used in Mediterranean dishes. Whereas many non-Mediterranean countries do not feel comfortable frying with olive oil, when a Mediterranean recipe calls for it. This plays a big role in the healthy Mediterranean diet as much as eating raw olive oil with salads and breads. 


Olives health benefit

Thursday, February 05th, 2009

Olives prevent cancer cell appearance and growth.

It has been found at the University of Granada that maslinic acid prevents cancer and regulates apoptosis in cancer growth. This ingredient is found in olive skin wax taken from the broken olive pulp.

Maslinic acid regulates cell growth and helps control the hypertrophy and hyperplasia process. This is beneficial in cancer treatment. Professor L. Cara from the department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, and Ph D student, Fermando Zurita found three advantages of Maslinic acid. The first is highly cytoxic, which is different from anti-carcinogenic products. Second, it is a less toxic and more natural compound that only acts on carcinogenic cells. Third, it prevents cancer appearance and has a preventative nature.

Even though Professor L.Cara studied the effect of maslinic acid for treating colon cancer, the acid can be effective in many types of tumors. This has only been tested on mice, but could easily be tested on humans in the near future.

olives health benefit


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