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Apulian Cooking
MEDITERRANEAN DIET
Extra virgin olive oil
elixir of health and beauty
A staple ingredient in the Mediterranean diet, it has countless remarkable properties. It is also the best for frying by Novella Pranzo
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Extra virgin olive oil, as well as being
an excellent food from a nutritional point
of view, has an exquisite taste that
enhances every flavor.
Photo Archivio Fotogramma

Pittule

 

- 1 kg of whole wheat flour

- 25 g of yeast

- salt

- warm water

- extra virgin olive oil (for frying)

 

Nutritional table per 100g serving (about 5 pittule)

 

- energy: 355 Kcal

- protein: 6 g

- fat: 20 g

- carbohydrates: 39 g

- sugar: 1.3 g

- fiber: 2 g

 

 

 

 

 

 

      Pittule are scrumptious! My favorite appetizer.

      Our beloved pittule is a dish from the poor in regards to the ingredients used but it is definitely high-calorie. They are mainly composed of carbohydrates (complex sugars) and, given the type of cooking, also very high in fat.

      But pay attention to the fat, it is here that the truth comes out! It is widely thought that the best oil for frying is a good, light, seed oil. But it is not so. Seed oil, at high cooking temperatures, becomes toxic to the human body, unlike extra virgin olive oil, which is the only vegetable oil rich in monounsaturated fatty acids that can withstand high cooking temperatures. As for the vaunted lightness of seed oil, the truth is exactly the opposite of what the media has argued for years; in fact, the digestibility of extra virgin olive oil has been rated at 100 (thick and tasty) against, for example, a 36 given to corn oil (transparent and tasteless). This means that our stomachs, in order to digest a tablespoon of corn oil, use three times the effort that is required to digest the same amount of extra virgin olive oil. If you compare it to coconut and palm oil, it is true that they also can withstand high cooking temperatures but they are composed of saturated fatty acids of vegetable origins, which are damaging to our arteries, and even more harmful than those derived from animal origins.

      When it comes to olive oil one must first clarify a key difference: extra virgin olive oil is the only oil that is one hundred percent derived from olives, and regular olive oil is only seventy percent olive oil, as the remaining thirty percent consists of other types of oil that have been blended into it.

      A principle ingredient in the Mediterranean diet, it is however a true elixir of health and beauty, and extra virgin olive oil (E.V.O.), which is also the only vegetable oil extracted by pressing olives, is solely obtained by pressure, without manipulation or chemical additives, unlike seed oil (soybean, peanut, sunflower, etc.) or plain olive oil.

       It is so rich in beneficial properties that it would take a book, not an article, to name them all. It mainly contains vitamins E, A, K, D, phenol, squalene and sterol, which have antioxidant properties as well as a protective effect on the body’s cells.

      Vitamin E (tocopherol) is present and constitutes a defense against cancer. Phenol is found in olive pulp, and is a strong anti-inflammatory that inhibits platelet aggregation. It can also play a preventative-chemo role on cancer cells.

      Sterol decreases blood levels of total cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol) and has an anti-carcinogenic protective effect.

      Regular consumption of E.V.O. oil is good for your health because it constantly exposes one to the anti-inflammatory effects of oleocantale, a substance that leaves a sour, pungent, taste in the mouth.

      It is for all these reasons that the regular consumption of e E.V.O. oil contributes to the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease, by decreasing the formation of oxygenated free radicals, which have been implicated in heart attacks and cell aging, and preventing, in part, the development of atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction, in addition to decreasing blood pressure, systolic and diastolic.

      Among the most important effects of E.V.O. oil, is a significant beneficial activity on the digestive system; aiding, in fact, the different stages of digestion and decreasing the secretion of gastric acid, that favors an inhibitory action on gastric and duodenal ulcers. Not only that, but thanks to its constant consumption one can lessen injuries and, in most cases, increase healing. E.V.O. oil is used a lot in the treatment of chronic constipation and to detoxify the liver, and its use decreases the risk of gallstones, since it facilitates the effective action of bile on the emulsion of fat.

      Astoundingly, it also contains the amazing properties of squalene (400-450 mg per 100 g of E.V.O. oil), known for its anti-carcinogenic effects, which mostly protects against pancreatic cancer and is also a constituent of sebum, the oily substance that keeps the top surface layer of the skin hydrated, protecting it from water evaporation. Squalene also has a protective effect against skin cancer, due to its ability to fight free radicals and the absorption of solar radiation.

      Many properties of the olive tree, its leaves, and its fruit had already been noted in ancient and remote times, as old texts have handed down “recipes” of teas, juices and various concoctions that fall between medicine and magic. In the time of ancient Rome, Pliny the Elder described the strong astringent and cleansing powers of olive tree leaves and recommended mashing them, and then mixing them with olive oil to apply as a compress for ulcers and headaches.

      But, apart from legends and magic, ancient wisdom had already intuited the incredible power of olives. 

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