Europe

Differences of Canola and Olive Oil Examined at 'Olearum' Congress

Olearum, a nonprofit association, celebrates its 9th annual congress in Jaén, Spain. Members, residents of Jaén and even a few international attendees showed to attend workshops and learn the benefits of olive oil over canola.

Apr. 16, 2016
By Alexis Kerner

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In the 1970s, lit­tle Paco Lorenzo Tapia ran through his grandfather´s olive oil mill in Monda, Malaga and ate fresh baked bread from the family´s bak­ery. Although he was not aware of it then, his child­hood would later play a major part in his life and the preser­va­tion of olive oil cul­ture.

Paco went on to become a doc­tor, tak­ing spe­cial inter­est in the impact that nutri­tion and the Mediter­ranean diet has on our health. How­ever, what has made Lorenzo Tapia unique is his deep appre­ci­a­tion for the his­tory and the cul­tural her­itage that sur­rounds the Mediter­ranean diet and olive oil.

He told Olive Oil Times that it was this zest that led him to pub­lish a book called Museos del Aceite en España (Oil Muse­ums in Spain). After research­ing and trav­el­ing to emblem­atic sites around Spain, he real­ized the impor­tance of pre­serv­ing and pro­mot­ing them, as well as, con­nect­ing the peo­ple that had them in their pos­ses­sion. With this idea in mind, in 2007 he founded Olearum as a non­profit asso­ci­a­tion that brings pro­duc­ers, millers, spe­cial­ists, and olive oil pro­fes­sion­als together to defend and raise aware­ness about olive oil and its his­tory.

Olearum now has over 30 mem­bers who have all demon­strated spe­cial ded­i­ca­tion to olive oil and work towards a com­mon pur­pose. The association´s goals are to con­serve and keep inven­tory of the her­itage sites; pro­mote olive oil cul­ture and its prod­ucts; defend qual­ity olive oil; estab­lish inter­na­tional and national col­lab­o­ra­tion; coop­er­ate with schools, gov­ern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions, and the press to edu­cate the pub­lic; and rec­og­nize indi­vid­u­als or groups ded­i­cated to pro­mot­ing Olearum´s objec­tives.

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To achieve these tar­gets, Olearum orga­nizes dif­fer­ent activ­i­ties for mem­bers, as well as, the young and old. Par­tic­i­pants can enjoy gas­tron­omy events, oleo-tourism, olive oil fairs, coun­try­side out­ings, and much more.

This past week, Olearum held their 9th Annual Con­gress. Every year it takes place in a dif­fer­ent loca­tion. In 2020, the group plans to go to Japan with mem­ber Tomiko Tanaka, how­ever, this year mem­bers gath­ered closer to home in Jaen, Spain.

The event included work­shops on arte­sian olive oil mak­ing, an art show, doc­u­men­taries on olive groves, as well as many inter­est­ing speak­ers.

One such speaker was Jose Juan Gaforio Mar­tinez who is the Direc­tor of the Cen­ter for Advanced Stud­ies on Olive Groves and Olive Oil at the Uni­ver­sity of Jaén. Peo­ple came as far as Lon­don to come hear him speak on the health effects of canola (rape­seed oil) and olive oil.

He began by telling the audi­ence about a Peru­vian man who said he was told he should never fry with olive oil because it can cause can­cer. He was also con­fronted by a famous chef that declared he only uses coconut oil because of its high smoke point. Many atten­dees rec­og­nized these points that are often made around the globe.

The truth, Gaforio explained, really does not mat­ter. It is the per­cep­tion that con­sumers have around the world and the sto­ries that they believe to be true. It is up to olive oil pro­fes­sion­als to help edu­cate con­sumers so that they can make healthy choices based on sci­en­tific evi­dence and years of stud­ies.

The canola indus­try presents var­i­ous mar­ket­ing points. It com­pares their oil to olive oil and claims that canola has less sat­u­rated fat, is richer in omega 3, and has a higher smoke point for fry­ing.

Gaforio made a strong case for extra vir­gin olive oil. He stated that olive oil does not have sig­nif­i­cantly higher lev­els of sat­u­rated fat than canola.

He went on to say that although, canola oil has higher amounts of both omega 3 and omega 6, which are polyun­sat­u­rated fats that do not remain sta­ble under heat. The con­sump­tion of too much omega 6 can also lead to inflam­ma­tion in the body. On the other hand, olive oil is lower in omega 3 and 6. It con­tains higher lev­els of oleic acid, which is an omega 9‑monounsaturated fat that does not degrade quickly when heated. Oils that are high in omega 3 and 6, Gaforio explained, are best con­sumed raw.

Con­trary to the rumor that olive oil has a low smoke point it can take the heat. Not only because of its con­tent in heat resis­tant omega 9 (oleic acid) but because extra vir­gin and vir­gin olive oils con­tain antiox­i­dants (phe­nols) that help pro­tect the oil from oxi­diz­ing when the tem­per­a­ture rises. Extra vir­gin olive oil´s smoke point can get up to 400ºF (205ºC) com­pared to canola at 455ºF (235ºC). Con­versely, the tem­per­a­ture needed for fry­ing is around 356ºF (180ºF).

In case the atten­dees were not con­vinced on switch­ing from canola oil to vir­gin olive oil, Gaforio fin­ished his talk by show­ing strong sci­en­tific evi­dence that has demon­strated time and again the pos­i­tive health ben­e­fits of extra vir­gin olive oil.

After the event, mem­bers enjoyed lunch at a local restau­rant where some of the best olive oils of Jaén were set on the tables to enhance the tra­di­tional Jaé­nense cui­sine. As fresh baked bread was torn into small pieces for dip­ping, no one com­plained that there was no canola.


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