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Extra virgin olive oil is a primary component of Italian cuisine. Whether it is used in your grandmother's kitchen or in the finest restaurants throughout Italy, olive oil is one of the most essential and versatile ingredients in the world of cooking. It is used in recipes on a daily basis, yet many people are unaware of what makes this product so significant. In order to fully appreciate extra virgin olive oil, one must understand its unique production process and many health benefits.

Extra virgin olive oil, or EVOO, is produced from olives at a specific stage of maturity. Olives are picked from the trees at various stages of maturity based on the type of olive oil being produced. Also, the olives have to be harvested during the warm seasons, otherwise they may freeze. The earlier the olives are picked in the maturing process, the more "bite" they will yield in the oil.

Many times, however, the word oil tends to make food lovers a bit uneasy when it comes to determining whether or not a certain food should be considered healthy, and the average consumer is not likely to associate oil with healthy food. Although it is an oil, extra virgin olive oil stands out amongst the rest of the "oil family," offering a variety of health benefits. Most importantly, olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats, which ultimately has a positive effect on the body's cholesterol levels. Extra virgin olive oil offers anti-inflammatory benefits, fighting against inflammation with its levels of phytonutrients known for their anti-inflammatory qualities. In addition, consumption of extra virgin olive oil has been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease, as EVOO provides the body with antioxidants that help strengthen blood vessels, allowing the heart to function properly. Extra virgin olive oil can also help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. Consuming even just a small amount can lower the risk of breast cancer, as well as certain digestive tract cancers. For all of these reasons, extra virgin olive oil can, in fact, be considered "healthy." Extra virgin olive oil is an ingredient that takes on numerous roles in the realm of cooking. It has become a staple in kitchens and restaurants all over the world. It is a product that is often overlooked and under appreciated simply because it is used every day. With its unique production process and multiple health benefits, extra virgin olive oil is a remarkable product that should not go unnoticed.
Olive Oil Production
Olive oil is produced by one of two methods. In the more traditional method, the olives are stripped of their stems and leaves and then ground into a paste. Direct, even pressure is applied to the olive paste by way of a press. This separates the liquid component, a mixture of oil and water. In the final step of the traditional method, the olive oil is separated from the water using a process known as decantation. The liquid is poured into a decanter, then slowly and carefully poured into a separate decanter, thus separating the oil from the water. In a more modern method of olive oil production, additional water is added to the olive paste and a centrifuge is then used to separate the paste into three parts - oil, water and solids. No matter the method used, olive oil production is a process that is done carefully and efficiently using precise machinery in order to yield a high quality product that many people have come to love.
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