In Australia, Advocates Call for Improved Health Rating for Olive Oil
An independent report commissioned by the Australian government recommended that olive oil's health star rating should not be improved due to its saturated fat content. Opponents said the report misses the bigger health picture.
Currently, olive oil is ranked as less healthy than canola or sunflower oil by the system due to its saturated fat content and without taking into account healthful content, such as polyphenols or omega-3 fatty acids.
There will be no perfect system for every single food but, once you've taken account of all the evidence, it has to have some sort of logical consistency.
In the run-up to the regulatory meeting, the Australian government hired a consulting firm to audit the HSR system and to determine whether olive oil’s rating should be changed based on factors not currently taken into consideration by the system.
“The review acknowledges the evidence submitted by stakeholders regarding the their report. “However, the review is mindful that the HSR calculator can only draw on a finite set of factors to determine a product’s HSR.”
SEE MORE: Australia and New Zealand Olive Oil News
“While olive oil has certain health benefits, it is also higher in saturated fats than some other oils,” the authors of the report added.
The HSR system, which gives all packaged foods in the two countries a grade ranging from one star (least healthy) to five stars (most healthy), takes calories, sodium content, saturated fat, total sugars, protein and fiber into account when determining the rating.
Several health experts have warned that the narrow scope of the HSR system undermines the idea of the rating system.
“There will be no perfect system for every single food but, once you’ve taken account of all the evidence, it has to have some sort of logical consistency – otherwise it gets undermined and people don’t understand what’s right and not right and why,” Anna Peeters, the director of the Institute for Health Transformation at Deakin University, told The Sydney Morning Herald.
Peeters has asked Australian politicians not to discount olive oil’s unique health properties and instead suggested that the HSR system should align more closely with “what consumers logically understand about healthy food choices.”
In its report, MPS Consulting insisted that olive oil could not be differentiated from other cooking oils “on the basis of factors not considered for any other product.”
Other advocates for a change in olive oil’s health ranking argued that instead of scrapping the whole system, the amount of saturated fats allowed in foods with an HSR score of five (the healthiest) should be increased.
At present, packaged foods are required to have a saturated fat content of less than 12 percent to be considered for the five-star rating. Olive oil has a saturated fat content of 14 percent and receives an HSR of three to 3.5 (depending on its grade).
“Some stakeholders suggested that all edible oils with less than or equal to 15 percent saturated fat should automatically score an HSR of five,” MPS Consulting wrote. “However, this result cannot be achieved through the HSR calculator without equally increasing the HSRs of margarines and non-dairy blends with saturated fat less than or equal to 15 percent, significantly reducing discrimination between products in this category.”
Joanna McMillan, a nutrition scientist and dietician at Latrobe University, in Melbourne, and scientific advisor for Boundary Bend, thinks that the HSR system is too narrowly focused on single ingredients and should instead focus on entire diets.
“Nutritional science has moved away from single nutrients like saturated fat and more into dietary patterns,” McMillan told The Sydney Morning Herald. “Eating a party pie is not the same as eating a piece of cheese even if they have the same saturated fat.”
Other advocates for changing olive oil’s health ranking have called for edible oils to be exempt from the HRS system, similar to single-ingredient foods such as salt and sugar.
However, MPS Consulting responded that other single-ingredient packaged food items, such as fruits, vegetables, meats and rice all received a rating, which helps customers make informed decisions.
“Removing edible oils from the system would limit the information available to consumers to make healthier choices in this category,” the authors of the report wrote.
State and federal ministers from both countries are expected to make their final decision on the issue at the food regulation meeting in November.
- Claire Be
EVOO Absorbs Polyphenols From Veggies When Cooked Together, Study Finds
The study examined the inner workings of the traditional methods of Mediterranean cooking, attempting to shed light on how extra virgin olive oil interacts with the ingredients of the local cuisines. Along with polyphenols, various other bioactive compounds from the vegetables were also found to be absorbed by the oil when cooked.
There is an exchange of polyphenols during cooking, some more apolar from vegetables go to the oil fraction, while some from the oil are absorbed by the vegetables.
The researchers focused on the sofrito method, a popular Mediterranean cooking technique for preparing a light sauce with tomato, onion and garlic. Sofrito reportedly contains 40 different phenolic compounds and a high content of carotenoids, while its consumption is associated with reduced cardiovascular risk and insulin sensitivity.
After the cooking process, an analysis of the olive oil showed that it was infused with polyphenols from the vegetables in the sofrito sauce; specifically with naringenin, ferulic acid, quercetin and Z-isomer carotenoids, none of which are typical compounds of extra virgin olive oil.
SEE MORE: Olive Oil Health Benefits
The migration of bioactive compounds such as polyphenols and carotenoids from the tomato to the olive oil also explained the findings of previous work of the researchers, which had concluded that the specific type of sauce demonstrated increased anti-inflammatory properties.
“In intervention nutritional studies we have observed that polyphenols from tomatoes were better absorbed when the tomato was cooked as a sauce with extra virgin olive oil,” Rosa Maria Lamuela-Raventos, a food science professor at the University of Barcelona and a researcher at Ciberobn (the research center for obesity and nutrition of Spain), told Olive Oil Times.
“For this reason, we wanted to evaluate why this was happening, so we performed an in vitro assay where we separated sofrito in three fractions or parts: solid (insoluble part), water fraction and oil fraction,” she added. “In this paper we observed that some of the polyphenols from the tomato, onion and garlic were moving to the oil fraction, being more bio-accessible, so easier to be absorbed.”
Additionally, the researchers noticed that the polyphenols in the olive oil were also reduced, by degrading or by migrating to the food matrix.
“There is an exchange of polyphenols during cooking, some more apolar from vegetables go to the oil fraction, while some from the oil are absorbed by the vegetables,” Lamuela-Raventos, who was also the main author of the study, said. “However, the temperature is important while cooking, because high temperatures over 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit) oxidized polyphenols.”
Having used science for years to assess the qualities of different edibles and food ingredients, Lamuela-Raventos regards the Mediterranean diet as one of the healthiest.
“[The Mediterranean diet] is one of the healthiest diets in the world,” she said. “As a scientist, I observe that the results with the traditional Mediterranean foods and dishes – such as extra virgin olive oil, sofrito, wine and more – give really very good results in intervention nutritional studies.”
However, science and good health are not the only parameters to be taken under consideration when it comes to the Mediterranean diet, Lamuela-Raventos added.
“As a consumer, I try to follow a Mediterranean diet not only for health reasons but also because of the way cooking and eating habits with family and friends are good not only for health but also for sociability and happiness,” she said.
“We are continuing our research about cooking with extra virgin olive oil with other food rich in proteins such as chicken or in carbohydrates such as potatoes,” Lamuela-Raventos added. “We want to evaluate if extra virgin olive oil polyphenols are absorbed in these foods while cooking.”
The health effects of the Mediterranean diet have been difficult to reproduce in non-Mediterranean populations, the researchers noted, in all likelihood due to the different cooking techniques used.
The researchers’ work established that, apart from consuming the ingredients and staple foods of the regime, traditional cooking from the Mediterranean can also play an important role in taking full advantage of the benefits of the Mediterranean diet.
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The best olive oils are culinary wonders!
Photo: Olive Oil Times
Fresh olive oil binds with the flavors of foods and forms a bridge to your taste buds, amplifying and elevating the deliciousness of your creation to heights you never imagined.
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Study Suggests Mediterranean Diet Benefits Pregnant Women
A study published this week in PLOS Medicine suggested that the Mediterranean diet may offer some health benefits to pregnant women.
The study was conducted by Shakila Thangaratinam and a team of researchers at Queen Mary University of London. The 1,252 women involved in the study were chosen from five separate English maternity wards and of diverse backgrounds.
Read full article here: https://www.oliveoiltimes.com/olive-oil-health-news/study-suggests-mediterranean-diet-benefits-pregnant-women/68824?utm_source=Olive+Oil+Times&utm_campaign=ecc8d3c355-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_cfd25322ac-ecc8d3c355-239351101&mc_cid=ecc8d3c355&mc_eid=4176291b8b
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MARCH 2019, HOSPITALITY BUSINESS
- Claire Be
Octopus carpaccio, capers, shallots and chilli
Renowned chef Sean Connolly shines a light on the unsung hero of Italian cuisine at his restaurant, Gusto at the Grand. His rendition of octopus carpaccio is the palate refresher that everyone needs. Thin slivers of delicately cooked octopus are sprinkled with capers, shallots, fresh chilli and a drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil for the ultimate example of tasteful simplicity.
From Gusto at the Grand
- Claire Be