Has olive oil ever tasted so peppery to you that it actually made you cough? Maybe you’ve even done tastings at those cool stores (The Olive Tap in Medina, OH or The Olive Scene in Chagrin Falls, OH) where some olive oils tasted buttery and others had a strong bite. Ever wonder what that’s all about? Well, even if you HAVEN’T given it a second thought, you should!
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Cool story: Back in 2005 this biologist dude named Gary Beauchamp, PhD was REALLY into olive oils. He participated in a tasting and noticed how people would cough after sampling some of the oils. He remembered that he got that same irritation in the back of his throat when he was doing previous studies on the sensory properties of ibuprofen. It clicked that there HAD to be a connection. And he was right! So why should we care? Because ibuprofen treats inflammation, and guess what!? So do the olive oils that have that peppery bite!!!
So you’re probably wondering why in the world you need to be concerned with inflammation. Well, did you know that inflammation is said to be the root cause of many chronic and fatal diseases? It’s the precursor to everything from auto-immune diseases and cancers, to coronary artery disease, which is the leading cause of death GLOBALLY. Controlling inflammation can prevent a horrific fate. It is definitely in our best interest to do what we can to avoid too much of it.
Okay, so no one is going to go out and drink a gallon of olive oil, I get that! And there’s even a lot of controversy over consuming oils in the first place. Are they good for you? Bad for you? They’re pure fat, I know that much! I personally don’t go OUT OF MY WAY on a daily basis to add fat to my diet. But here’s the deal, and this is important. We all NEED SOME FAT in our diets. NEED!
Without fat, our brains couldn’t function since it’s needed to aid in the form of structural components of brain tissue. Fat also helps maintain heart function. And, in the absence of fats, we’d have a major vitamin deficiency, namely vitamins A, D, E & K, since those necessary vitamins are STORED in our fat tissues for use on an as-needed basis. Most experts agree that the optimal percentage to stay in is 20-35% of daily calories coming from fat.
However, all fats are not created equal. Obviously if I HAD to have fat, any fat, I’d be eating caramel by the boat loads! However, Monounsaturated fats—MUFAs (pronounced MOO-fahs) and polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs), are what to go for. (MUFAs come from the healthy oils found in plant foods such as olives, nuts, and avocados, and PUFAs are found in fish and plant-based oils.) So in a perfect world where my diet is spot on and I’ve been eating clean, I actually WOULD (and sometimes DO) go out of my way to add extra virgin olive oil to my veggie sauté, JUST to get the benefit of its natural anti-inflammatory agent. (By the way, that agent is a compound called oleocanthal.) But keep in mind, not all olive oils make you cough! The irritating intensity of a given extra-virgin olive oil is directly correlated to how much of the beneficial anti-inflammatory agent it contains.
So there you have it! If you want the best protection against inflammation that an extra virgin olive oil can provide, it should make you cough your lungs out 😯 😉 ! Well, not quite – but you get the jist. The more it makes you cough, the better it is for you! Bon appetit!