Certainly it is oil, but it is undoubtedly the best oil you can place on your table. It is not simply a condiment but rather a health-giving food product, a joy for all thos who use it. Extra virgin olive oil is an example of what can be obtained from nature's fruits through simple pressing and spinning, with no additives or further processing. It is composed almost entirely of fatty acids of various kinds with a predominance of mono or polyunsatures considered less harmful to health. The percentage of saturated fatty acids, more detrimental to health, is much lower than those contained in other vegetable or animal oils.
Extra virgin olive oil is, however, semething more than a simple oil. When it is produced correctly it is a true concentrate of nature. The part of extra virgin olive oil not rapresented by fatty acids is, in fact, composed of numerous antioxidising compounds which protect both the oil itself and the human organism. Even the Americans, who do not produce olive oil, have recognised its nutritional and terapeutic value. In 1977 Prof. Angel Keys, University of Minnesota, recognised the role of olive oil in the prevention of arteriosclerosis and heart disease. He was, in fact, the first reseracher in modern times to appreciate the "Mediterranean diet" with its widespread use of extra virgin olive oil.
We can find hundreds of typical recipes in Italy in which olive oil is the essential ingredient: Bruschetta, Pinzimonio, Spaghetti with garlic, oil and red pepper, Pesto, Mayonnaise, Bagnacauda, Carpaccio, not to mention all the recipes with olives or the delicious specialities preserved in oil. For the Italian cuisine olive oil is foundamental; not only does it have an elevated resistance to high temperatures, it does not deteriorate during cooking, but it does not increase but rather diminishes the level of LDL cholesterol, harmful to health, in flavour of HDL cholesterol.
And, what is more, extra virgin olive oil reduces gastric acid, is beneficial to the liver, helps consolidate vitamin D in bones favouring growth. Why should man do without this powerful fruit of nature?