Olive Oil and Health

EVOO, extra virgin olive oil, nectar of gods, liquid gold, king of oils, more than 5,000 years of history, Mediterranean Diet, the only vegetable oil that can be consumed as it is, pure olive's juice, no cholesterol at all...well, what else can we say about EVOO?.

In our global world, some people say that we're entering into the olive oil age. Lots of people are more and more concerned about health, and it's true that consuming EVOO it's one of the best things we can do for that.

The health properties of olive oil are well documented. This monounsaturated, heart healthy oil has antioxidants and acts as polyphenols for healthy cell life. Studies also seem to indicate that olive oil helps prevent cancer, diabetes and obesity.

Today, anyone can 'google' and search more information of EVOO health benefits. Let us list just a little.

  • Lowers your risk of heart disease
  • Reduces the rates of skin, breast and colon cancer
  • Prevents arthritis and decreases the risk of rheumatoid arthritis
  • Lowers your risk of diabetes
  • Lowers your odds of having Alzheimer's
  • May prevent bone loss (osteoporosis)
  • Slows the spread of the HIV virus

Olive oil and health. A perfect union!

What does extra virgin mean?. First, olive oil is considered “extra virgin” when it has been produced by a simple pressing of the olives. Other grades like “olive oil” are usually produced using chemicals and other processes to extract the oil from the olives.

Second, EVOO must meet certain laboratory tests on things like acidity and levels of peroxide. Like this:

Acidity maximum < 0.8º

Index of peroxides maximum < 16

UV absorbance K270 maximum < 0.15

UV absorbance K232 maximum < 1.85

Humidity maximum < 0.1%

Impurities maximum < 0.1%

Finally, extra virgin olive oil must taste like olives and it can’t have any negative tastes that professionals refer to as “defects“.

Cooking with olive oil is like cooking with wine.

Never use a wine or olive oil that does not taste good to you. An inferior one will leave an aftertaste. If you do the taste test and compare the "pure" to the "extra-virgin" and the you'll understand the difference.

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil:
When cooking with olive oil, save your extra-virgin expensive oils for salads, dressings, and vinaigrettes. You can also drizzle it over slices of crusty bread or onto open-face sandwiches. Use it on a baked potato or add it to mashed potatoes instead of butter. Extra virgin olive oil tastes great on cooked vegetables or brushed onto fish or meat before serving.

Marcella Hazan who wrote the cookbook called Marcella Cucina, wrote the following:

"The taste of a dish for which you need olive oil will be as good or as ordinary as the oil you use. A sublime one can lift even modest ingredients to eminent heights of flavor; a dreary oil will pull the best ingredients down to its own level. Partial clues to the quality of the olive oil you are buying are supplied by the label and the price, but ultimately, the only way to determine which one, among those available, is right for you is to taste and compare."

When sautéing or frying, use either a combination olive oil (one that is simply a blend of extra virgin and regular olive oil) or a straight olive oil.

For deep frying, the olive oil grade "olive oil," is excellent because it has a higher smoke point (410º F) than virgin or extra virgin oils.

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: This is the good stuff, with flavor characteristics of fresh, crisp, clean, fruity olive oil. Extra virgin oils do not have any off flavors or any flavors of cooked or refined oil. They feel substantial in the mouth and are not greasy. All olive extra-virgin olive oils that are less than 1% acidity and produced by the first pressing of the olive fruit through the cold pressing process is called extra-virgin olive oil.

Virgin Olive Oil: Labeled as olive oil or pure olive oil or light olive oil. This is the mediocre stuff that is usually just bland. It is made from olives that are slightly riper than those used in the production of extra-virgin oil. Virgin olive oil is produced in the same way, but it is essentially defective or low-grade extra virgin oil. This oil's acidity is a slightly higher level of 1 1/2%.

Pure Olive Oil: Pure olive oil, usually called just olive oil, comes either from the second cold pressing or the chemical extraction of the olive mash left over after the first pressing. This grade is also called commercial grade oil. Pure olive oil is much lighter in color and blander in taste than virgin olive oil. It is a general-purpose (all-purpose) olive oil. Pure refers to the fact that no non-olive oils are mixed in.

Refined Olive Oil: Olive oil known as "refined olive oil" is made by refining the virgin olive oil. The final product is basically a tasteless olive oil. The acidity level is higher than 3.3%. It also has a not-to-nice flavor and an unpleasant odor.

Pomace Oil: The not-very-good-at-all stuff, from solvent extraction of the fermented milling waste. It is usually quite bland in flavor. It goes through the same refining process as refined olive oil. It just had an even worse origin. It usually has a greasy feel in the mouth and possibly a slight cooked taste. Olive oil which consists of a blend of refined olive-pomace oil and virgin olive oil. Don't buy this grade, as it is bad for you.

Light and Extra Light Olive Oil The olive oil that you see on the supermarket shelf advertised as "light" or as "Extra Light" olive oil contains the exact same number of calories as regular olive oil and is a mixture of refined olive oils that are derived from the lowest quality olive oils available through chemical processing.


Tinta Roriz is a very fine variety of extraordinary quality. This grape has also been grown for centuries in the Alentejo, but under the name of Aragonês. In good years it produces full-bodied, inky and highly aromatic wines. The grape has fine and delicate aromas of pepper and berries.  

LOUREIRO (white)

Grown mainly in the upper Minho region along the River Lima valley, Loureiro is a very old grape variety. Aromatically exuberant, Loureiro (along with Moscatel) is considered the most perfumed of Portuguese grapes, evoking bay leaf, lime tree, acacia, orange and peach. In blends with other regional grapes, its exceptional aromatic qualities construct some of the best white wines in Portugal.


One of the most widespread Portuguese grape varieties. It shows best, however, in hot, dry and very bright areas, tailor-made, in fact, for the Alentejo. It has excellent acidity, soft tannins and abundant, intense aromas of plum and blackberry, producing elegant and balanced wines. A Trincadeira blend with Aragonês in the Alentejo or Touriga Nacional in the Douro will result in top quality wines.



Health Benefits of Spanish Ham
Date : 2009.05.12  Source : Wholesale Acorn Spanish Ham


You must be thinking that eating any kind of cured meat has absolutely no health benefits whatsoever. True, if you gorge on a kilo of ham every day, your cholesterol might just pop through the roof, not to mention your weight. Spaniards, though, eat just a touch of ham (approximately 100 grams) almost everyday as an integral part of their Mediterranean Diet. What health benefits could jamón serrano possibly have?

Spanish ham is rich in iron, magnesium, zinc, calcium, phosphorous, vitamins B1, B2, and niacin. (See, I told you that this stuff was good for you!) 100 grams of Spanish ham provides 24% of the recommended daily intake of niacin and 33% protein. In fact, Jamon Serrano contains 50% more protein than fresh meat.

What about all those strips of marbled fat? Oleic acid is the primary component of fat in Jamon Serrano. This fat is the kind that promotes production of HDL (the good cholesterol). It’s the same acid found in olive oil – another core ingredient of the Spanish diet.

From: Wholesale Acorn Spanish Ham

An overview of the Health benefits of Spanish Iberian Ham
Spanish ham or Iberian ham as it is known has many benefits in comparison to your everyday meats. One of the main benefits is the nutritional value and health benefits it contains and is classed as one of the healthiest factors of a Mediterranean and Spanish diet. The flavour is far greater than your average ham with the strict origin laws that state a specific production, curing and drying process must take place. This guarantees the flavour, colour and aroma as well as the health benefits it will contain. In Spain however, it is very well known about the health benefits but here in the UK and many other countries people arent 100% educated on just how nutritional  Spanish Ham is.
So to break it down, 100 grams of Iberian ham contains:

  • 200 calories which is 1/10 of your daily intake for a woman and 1/12.5 for a man.
  • 70 milligrams of cholesterol which is just less than a quarter of your recommended daily intake.
  • It provides for than 24% of your recommended daily intake of niacin which is known as vitamin B3.
  • 33% of your protein intake which is great for people who go to the gym as usually fresh meat contains about 22% of your recommended daily intake so that is 50% more.
  • Rich in Calcium which helps your bones stay strong.
  • 2.20mg of Zinc which is more that 1/10 of your recommended daily amount. Zinc has been proven to help concentration levels in adults and is very good for your immune system.
  • 2.3mg of Iron which is 1/8 of your daily allowance.
  • Rich in magnesium.
  • 100mg of Carbohydrates. There is no recommended health guideline for carbohydrates as they pose no major health risk. On average a person will consume 200-300mg of carbohydrates a day unless they are trying to lose weight then they may cut it down to 100-150mg.
  • On average about 14 grams of fat which is under ¼ of your recommended daily intake. The fat found in Iberian ham contains Oleic acid which is the same found in olive oil. This helps produce good cholesterol known as HDL while reducing bad cholesterol.
  • Rich in B vitamins which: 
  • Keep your heart working
  • Break down the protein in the food we eat
  • Helps our nervous system send messages to and from the brain
  • Breaks food we eat down and turns it into fuel for our bodies
  • Helps our immune system
  • Makes new cells 
  • 1470mg of Sodium which is more than half of our recommended daily amount. Sodium helps our bodily fluid flow properly and regulates that there is always the correct amount of fluid in our bodies, it controls our sweat, tells us when we are thirsty etc. Too much or too little sodium can be a health risk so knowing how much to consume is extremely beneficial.  

 There are many Spanish Ham importers in the UK who pride themselves on importing the best meat from Spain. This means if you are on a health kick you can enjoy the nutritional values of Spanish meat without having to jump on a plane and cross over to another country.

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A view over the rooftops of Lisbon

Spotlight on Portuguese wines

"In a world of increased standardization, Portugal shines like a beacon of
individuality and independence
Oz Clarke, Oz Clarke’s Wine Atlas.

[Note added September 2002: this piece is now horribly out of date, and reflects in large part my limited understanding of Portuguese wines back in December 1999. But I've left it here for the sake of historical interest. Jamie Goode]

Wine writers seem always to be in search of ‘The Next Big Thing’ in the world of wine, and for several years now many have dubbed Portugal as exactly this. I think for a number of reasons Portuguese table wines (as opposed to the already well established Port wines) are poised to fulfill their so far largely latent potential on the world stage. Giving a run through of my recent exploration of a selection of what Portugal has to offer, I’ll explain why.

You need to think about Portuguese wines: they are certainly not obvious. They demand, and will repay, application and perseverance. As expressed in the quote above, the great appeal of Portuguese wines lies in the fact that Portugal has stubbornly refused to take the 'Cabernet and Chardonnay plus new oak' fast track; it has also largely ignored the appeal of the rising star of Syrah, which would seem so well suited to many of its terroirs. Instead, shunning in large part the desire to adopt the consumer-friendly practice of varietally labelled wines, Portuguese producers have stuck by their many indigenous grape varieties that are virtually unknown elsewhere and have carried on doing what they always have, perhaps with a bit of modernization in the winery. Portuguese red wines offer an exciting journey of exploration for inquisitive wine geeks whose palates have become jaded by alcoholic, overoaked and over-everything blockbuster reds that seem to dominate retailers' shelves and clear out gold medals at the wine competitions. Portuguese wines probably won't be the ones that will impress at big, crowded tastings; instead, I suspect they are more likely to satisfy when contemplated over for the course of a quite evening meal with good friends.  

The view from the delightful walled
town of Obidos

What the critics say:

Its very unpredictability and refusal to conform to international norms are what makes Portugal such a gloriously fascinating wine country and yet such an infuriating one.
Oz Clarke, Oz Clarke’s wine atlas

The Portuguese have had this strange habit of making wines to suit the palates of other Portuguese rather than making the sort of fruity, juicy-yet-structured wines that appeal to the majority of the world’s wine consumers.
Jancis Robinson, Jancis Robinson’s wine course

If the sheer variety of Portugal’s landscape and grapes is allowed space to shine, the prospect is (sic) exhilarating.
Kathryn McWhirter, Charles Metcalfe, The wines of Spain and Portugal


About Tasting Portuguese Wines


Bunch of Wine Grapes From Portugal

Why You Shouldn't Neglect Wines From Portugal

Think of all the best wine producing countries of the world and you'll probably think of France, Italy and California however there are many countries that produce wine and don't get much in the way of shelf space at your local supermarket. Portugal is one such country that produces wonderful wines yet not that many people outside of Portugal actually get to taste it.  Portugal vacations is something you might find yourself interested in for the wines alone. 

The Portuguese wine industry has been around for centuries and it's even though to have originated 4,000 years ago. Production techniques have obviously changed and adapted since then but it might just be that Portugal have been a wine growing nation since the Phoenicians.

Although you may not have tasted any of Portugal's table wine, you have no doubt heard of port and Madeira fortified wines. Other than fortified wines, Portugal also produce a huge variety of wines to suite any taste bud.

Although Portugal is not the largest of countries, it is split into different wine growing regions with each region producing wines with their own individual character. An interesting fact about Portuguese wines is that they only use native grapes. This of course is highly different from South American, Australian and Californian wines which can be a blend of grapes from all over the world. To ensure that all the wine produced in Portugal is of the highest quality, the government has laid down laws about wine production.

If you are keen to taste wines from Portugal you will find that it's not all that easy to buy as they aren't well known outside of Portugal.

Alentejo Wine is produced in the southern part of the country and is made form the alentejo grape. This is great grape if you want a white wine that's fruity and acidic. This is a very popular wine in Portugal.

Bairrada Wine - 80% of wines from this region are red and 95% of these come from the baga grape. These are very thick skinned grapes and the outcome is a wine high in tannins and acidity. For some reason, it's a tradition to include the stems when the wine is fermenting. This can make it a difficult wine to drink if you are not used to it. However the better wine producers can actually produce a very palatable wine.

Colares Sand Wine - This wine is grown just outside Lisbon where the soil is sandy. Because of the sprawling suburbs, there isn't that much space for vineyards which means there aren't enough vineyards to meet demand. That's why you can expect to pay more for this wine.

Dão Wine - This is in the north of the country which is mountainous and has a more cooler climate compared to the baking heat of the south. They produce both red and white wines which are very fruity and the minimum alcohol content is 11%. Wine buffs claim that the best Portuguese wines can be found here with Grão Vasco and Aliança being highly recommended.


Portuguese Wines - More than just Lancers and Mateus

Apr 03 '00
Portuguese wines are often hard to find in the United States unless you live in New England or California...areas with a large Portuguese population. And unfortunately when I mention Portuguese wines to people here in the United States, the ones they are often familiar with are Lancers and Mateus. Based on that, I can see why people often have a low opinion of Portuguese wines. But the thing is...I travel to Portugal at least once a year and not once have I ever seen a Portuguese person drink either of these two wines. Lancers and Mateus are usually being "enjoyed" by either tourists or Americans who are stationed out there with the military.

There are actually many Portuguese wines that I consider to be very good. Oh, and something to think about...France is the major importer of Portuguese wines.

This review is not of a particular wine...but instead a basic overview of different types of wine produced by Portugal and the various wine regions there. Maybe it will help guide those of you lucky enough to have Portuguese wines at your local liquor store.


Literally translated, this means "green wine". You will find both red green wines and white green wines. There are a couple of theories as to why these wines were given the name green. Some say it's because the grapes are picked green. Others say it's because the region that produces them (the northern Minho Province) has an intensely green landscape. Or maybe it's because these wines are drunk young.

The white version of the green wine is a very light wine - crisp and slightly effervescent. It is dry yet delicately fruity. Great to drink while hanging out on a hot summer day or as an accompaniment to simple fish dinners (not fish with heavy sauces or fish stews and the like) or shellfish. Try the Gazella, Casal Garcia, or any of the ones produced by Quinta da Aveleda.

I am not a fan of the red version at all...it's very tart.





April 08, 2011

Living with wine in the "old world"

Early in March I visited the old village in the north of Portugal where I used to live as a kid. The reason? The family (read my dad) decided that we should re-plant the old vineyard which had succumb after years of neglect (we moved away several years ago looking for a "better life"). This is the birth of a new wine project that I'm excited about… more on it some time in the future.

Though I wasn't there for long, this was a chance to reconnect with the local wine culture. I visited 6 different wineries and had plenty of wine throughout each day.  This trip reminded me of how people in the "old world" live with wine.

For example, there just isn't much wine drinking happening without food.  Be it a simple bread and cheese spread or an all out meal, wine comes with food. Some of you may have already realized that many wines which don't taste good on their own, can taste much better with food. This is at times an argument used to justify bad wines, but a bad wine is not "fixed" by adding food. To put it in simple terms, what I'm referring to is a style of wine which is higher in acidity, lower in alcohol, less "extracted"... these are the types of wines which tend to be more pleasant with food. I also think that drinking wine with food simply allows people to drink more... and that's not a bad thing.

Another aspect that I find interesting is how few people speak about grape variety when drinking wine. When the grapes are brought into the discussion it's usually of secondary relevance, sort of a minor detail.  The emphases is mostly on how the wine actually tastes regardless of what grapes went into its making.  My own experience is that here in the US most people (myself included many times) have pre-conceived notions on how well they'll enjoy a wine based on knowing the grapes in it. Some people even feel uneasy about drinking a wine without knowing the grapes used in its making.  Though there isn't anything wrong with wanting to educate ourselves about the different taste profiles of each variety, I feel that we must not let it be the main determining factor in our wine drinking decisions and experiences.

The US has become a major wine drinking country but we are still learning how to live with wine in our daily lives. I hope that we can learn and benefit from some of our European counterparts approach. I believe we can do this without losing our identity.





風乾期:: 30 / 36月

簡介﹕JAMONES BRONCHALES位於海拔1573公尺的高原,所以MONTES UNIVERSALES是最適合生產天然風乾火腿。其優質火腿早在十九世紀被確認為法定產區等級(D.O.)。經過最少24個月成熟期,火腿甘香無比。再由熟練技師將火腿切成薄片來增加其甘香口味。


食用火腿的益處﹕根據營養研究報告,西班牙風乾火腿含有豐富的蛋白質和維他命B1、B6及B12。火腿內另含有的Folic acid是我們神經系統和腦部運作有限大幫助。其豐富的鐵質對兒童和老年人的骨骼有莫大碑益。再加上火腿的脂肪中含有Oleic acid此乃製造HDL(有益的膽固醇),故此享用西班牙風乾火腿除了是時尚享受還對健康有幫助。

Source : Wholesale Acorn Spanish Ham   spanishham.co.uk Date : 2009.05.12


  1. 紅酒 + 火腿 (最佳配搭)
  2. 蜜瓜 + 火腿
  3. 蕃茄火腿三文治