By Suzanne Davidson, Owner Oli & Ve, 1003 Canton Street, Roswell, http://www.oliandve.com

We have been urged to cut fat out of our diets and switch to no or low-fat foods.  However, many of us have cut back on healthy fats, as well as harmful ones.  Adding EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) and aged Balsamic vinegar is a great way to eat healthily.

There are two kinds of fat:  good (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) and bad (saturated and trans).  Among the good fats, high quality olive oil reigns supreme.  It provides a supply of vitamins A, D, K and E, contains anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories, aids with digestion, helps the body absorb calcium, improves the appearance and texture of the skin, and is the most flavorful of all of the fats. The primary fat found in EVOO is monounsaturated.  Monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) improve blood cholesterol levels, which can reduce the risk of heart disease and research shows that MUFAs may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control.

Not all olive oils are the same. Look for true EVOO, which is of the highest grade, mechanically pressed (no added heat or chemicals), has an acidity level below 0.8% at crush time, and is of superior taste. EVOO is a fresh fruit juice, has a shelf life, and should be consumed within a year of its crush date for maximum freshness.  Sauté with olive oil instead of butter. Use in salad dressing and marinades.

Because of its versatility and longevity (10,000+ years), vinegar it has its own National Vinegar Day on November 1st.   Look for true balsamic that has been aged (with no added sugars, thickeners, or colors), is low in calories and sugars, with no salt or fats.  Balsamic can be stored in closed containers indefinitely.  Think of a balsamic as a condiment, a way to flavor all kinds of foods.  Use in salad dressings, sauces, gravies, drizzled over fresh fruit, as a marinade and over cooked vegetables.

*many of the bottles labeled EVOO on your grocery shelves are “adulterated” oils—containing some EVOO but mixed with other seed oils or a lesser quality olive oil.  This practice has been going on for years without the public’s knowledge.

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