Extra virgin olive oil: because it is good for children

Extra virgin olive oil, that's why it's good for you. We talk about it with prof. Vito Leonardo Miniello, pediatrician, Head of Nutrition Unit of the University of the city and National Vice President of the Paesena Society of Preventive and Social Pediatrics - SIPPS

A precious mix of antioxidants

"Extra virgin olive oil is very rich in beneficial substances for health, in particular polyphenols such as oleuropein (present only in olive oil) and other types of phenols, which are powerful natural antioxidants, essential for preventing alterations of the vascular wall which over time can cause the appearance of diseases ”says Miniello.

Important in children's nutrition

It is important that certain antioxidants are introduced with the diet from an early age. "In fact, each of us can have a predisposition towards certain chronic non-communicable diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, malignant neoplasms, chronic respiratory diseases, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases: it is a predisposition written in our genetic makeup" explains the pediatrician. “The diet of the first epochs of life, however, in particular of the first two years, is capable of favorably or unfavorably influencing the development and expression of these diseases. Therefore, guaranteeing an intake of antioxidants from the time of weaning allows you to keep free radicals at bay, reduce blood pressure, reduce triglycerides and LDL 'bad' cholesterol levels in the blood, increase 'good' HDL cholesterol: all factors that interact with each other and allow us to keep inflammation levels at bay and to 'program' the functioning of our body in the best possible way. Since childhood ".

Read also: Weaning Guide

Why give preference to extra virgin olive oil over other vegetable oils

What is different about olive oil compared to other vegetable oils? "Extra virgin olive oil is the only vegetable oil that is obtained by cold pressing and without the use of any type of heat or chemical treatment and this allows all the antioxidant substances present in the fruit to be preserved intact" answers Leonardo Miniello . "For the extraction and refining of any other vegetable oil, on the other hand, high temperatures and chemical treatments are used which destroy the antioxidants that may be present in the original fruit and in addition cause the formation of substances harmful to health".

Ok from the first meal

"For the richness of antioxidants and other micronutrients and for the perfectly balanced quantity of monounsaturated fats (especially oleic acid), polyunsaturated and, to a minimum extent, saturated, extra virgin olive oil is recommended in the baby's diet since first day of weaning and is always considered the best dressing in childhood, ”says Miniello.

Read also: Weaning: how to make the first baby food

How to choose a "good" olive oil

  • Extra virgin. For an olive oil to be rich in antioxidants, it is first of all important that it be extra virgin olive oil, that is, with a free acidity of less than 0,8%;
  • Cold extraction. Another quality indicator is the wording 'cold extracted', which means that the entire processing cycle was carried out at controlled temperatures below 28 degrees;
  • With a slight tingling. A quality oil must pinch at least a little: the tingling is determined by the presence of the precious polyphenols;
  • . "Del Paeseni oils are made according to a centuries-old tradition that pays attention to all stages of processing, from harvesting directly from the plant (and not from olives dropped to the ground) to milling within a few hours of harvesting: indispensable precautions both to preserve the properties oil both to avoid the formation of mycotoxins, which have a carcinogenic action ”underlines the expert
  • Any color: the color is not an indicator of the quality of the oil, but mainly depends on the variety of olives with which it was made
  • Well preserved. The oil must be stored in the dark and away from heat and not allowed to 'age', because light, high temperatures and the passage of time decrease the polyphenols and increase the oxidation processes.
Oil. The extraordinary world of extra virgin olive oil.
By Simona Cognoli and Luciana Squadrilli. (LSWR editions, € 15,90).
A useful and pleasant tool to learn about the virtues of oil, its nutraceutical properties, combinations in the kitchen, its uses as a beauty treatment, the history and myths associated with this precious food.
The world of oil. History, production, use of extra virgin olive oil in the kitchen. (Slow Food Editore, 16,50 euro).
A manual to discover extra virgin olive oil and its health properties, which analyzes the extraction techniques, the selection criteria in the purchase, the conservation rules and the tools to defend against counterfeits.

  • recipes for children
  • extra virgin
  • olive
  • antioxidants
  • polyphenols
  • 1-2 children years
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