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Olive oil gets an antioxidant boost...
22 July 2014

While extra virgin olive oil is known to contain a high amount of antioxidants, there may be room to add some more: Spanish researchers from the University of Jaén are experimenting with supplementing olive oil with lutein, a substance with antioxidant activity that plays a role in eye health.

Lutein is a carotenoid — a natural occurring pigment found mainly in green leafy vegetables such as collard greens and spinach — and acts as an antioxidant in humans. Lutein along with zeaxanthin accumulate in the macula and retina of the eye.

Studies have shown that lutein may help prevent or reduce the symptoms of age-related macular degeneration, a disease that is characterized by deterioration of the retina causing impaired vision. The results are not yet clear though, as not all studies have shown such an effect

The researchers have extracted lutein from seaweed and added it to olive oil. University of Jaén researcher and professor Ruperto Bermejo, notes that the average consumption of olive oil per person in Spain is 30 milliliters and that it would be very easy if the antioxidant they have purified to prevent the disease were already included in those 30 milliliters.

According to the research, it took a year and a half to define the method to add lutein without changing the color and taste of the olive oil.

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Super Spanish Starters Nº 5 : Salmorejo - 3 different ways.
17 July 2014

Believe it or not but ‘Salmorjeo from Cordoba’ has its own culinary guild which aims to make this traditional recipe become the ambassador of the city, its culture and cuisine, so each year they organise an event to promote this wonderfully cersatile dish. For two days, lectures, panel discussions, cooking demonstrations, tastings are conducted in the city in order to help disseminate the authentic salmorejo recipe to the rest of the world.

The guild is conducting an initiative that aims to turn this star dish into a Universal Salmorejo so standardizing the recipe and ingredients as it has many variations. They want to spread a traditional protected recipe, which will become an emblem. A panel of expert tasters approved the recipe after researching the most common proportions between ingredients and rounding them off to a standard.  So I thought I would share this recipe with you all and I hope you do the same.

1 kg of ripe  tomates
200 gr.  Telera Cordobesa Bread (this is a bread with a thick, heavy dough. Better if it is a day old too)
100 gr. de Extra Virgen Olive Oil
1 ‘Montalban garlic’ clove from Cordoba
10 gr. de Sal



Version Nº 1  - Traditional Preparation:

Wash, scald in boiling water and then place in cold water to separate the skin from the flesh of the tomato. Peel the tomatoes and blend them in a food blender, pass the liquidised tomato through a sieve to remove the seeds then pour it back into the blender and start blending again, while at the same time adding the bread, olive oil, garlic and salt until you have a homogenous mixture which is thicker much thicker than gazpacho. Finally sprinkle chopped boiled egg and finely diced Serrano ham over the top and serve.

Version Nº 2 -  With Tuna tartar and Mango

Another alternative to this dish is to replace reduce 50gr of bread and replace the boiled egg and Serrano ham with a fresh summery tuna tartar. It is fantastic and a lovely light alternative and it is so easy to make.
For the Salmorejo follow the instruction above, only remove 50gr of bread, this will make it slightly lighter and not as thick.  You will need:

300 gr of raw red tuna steak
100gr of diced Mango
A few sprigs of diced chives
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Arbequina)
A pinch of wasabi (optional)

Quite simply dice it all up and mix it well in a bowl and leave it in the fridge for 45min before serving. Serve the Salmorejo with a healthy serving of tartar in the centre.

Version Nº 3 -  Buffalo Mozzarella  and Crispy ham 

This version is a real winner with everyone. All you will need apart from the Salmorejo (this time with the original recipe, not reducing the bread) are 4 buffalo mozzarella balls, 4 slices of Serrano ham, a few sprigs of fresh basil and of course extra virgin olive oil. To prepare quite simple finely chop up the Serrano ham and crisp it in the microwave for a minute or so.  Then place the mozzarella ball in the centre of the Salmorejo with the crispy Serrano ham sprinkled over the top with the fresh basil leaves.  Salt and Drizzle some Picual olive oil over it all and serve immediately.



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Breakfast with High-Phenol EVOO Reduces Inflammation Linked to Diabetes
07 July 2014

A new study published in Food Chemistry shows that adding phenol-rich olive oil to breakfast successfully lowers the inflammation linked to metabolic syndrome.

Inflammation is associated with metabolic syndrome, an increasingly common condition characterized by the presence of three of the following pathologies in an individual: obesity (particularly abdominal fat), high blood pressure, a low level of “good” HDL cholesterol, high fasting blood sugar and a high level of triglycerides. Left untreated, metabolic syndrome can trigger diabetes, stroke and heart disease.

Forty-nine patients with metabolic syndrome added 40 ml of high-, medium- or low-phenol virgin olive oil to their breakfast. The high-phenol olive oil (398 parts per million) breakfast neutralized pro-inflammatory gene expression in patients while reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines in blood plasma. The result was an overall lower level of post-meal inflammation.

Phenols — phytochemicals found in plant-based foods such as olives, coffee, tea, and chocolate — have been enjoying the nutritional limelight as an increasing number of health-related benefits are revealed. While the lion’s share of studies to date focus on their anti-oxidant benefits, growing evidence shows that phenols also reduce inflammation.

Chronic low-grade inflammation precedes and predicts the onset of diabetes in adults with metabolic syndrome and researchers believe it plays a similar role in cardiovascular disease. It is estimated that over 30 percent of all adults in the USA have metabolic syndrome, a phenomenon seen in another western countries and quickly spreading to developing countries including India, China and Brazil.

This study adds valuable information on understanding how phenols reduce inflammation by modulating cell signaling pathways and suggests that a breakfast that includes phenol-rich olive oil helps alleviate inflammation associated with metabolic syndrome and related diseases.

One way of knowing that your olive oil is high in Phenols is its taste. Phenols give olive oil its bitter taste, so the bitterer it is the more phenols it has. Examples of varieties that are high in phenols are Picual, Cornicabra, Lechin de Sevilla y Empeltre. In supermarkets you will more readily find Picual and Cornicabra.

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How The Olive Compound Hydroxytyrosol Helps Stop Infections
02 July 2014

A compound found naturally in olives helps fight bacterial infections, according to an international patent application by Spanish scientists.

They say hydroxytyrosol and derivatives of it can disrupt quorum sensing (QS) – a way in which bacteria ‘talk’ to each other – thereby making infections less virulent. With antibiotic resistance increasing, this is seen as a promising way of treatment.

Madrid-based patent applicant Seprox Biotech, which sells hydroxytyrosol (HT), claims that HT and its derivatives hydroxytyrosol acetate (HTA) and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) have good anti-QS activity, making them useful for preventing and treating many kinds of infections.

It said in its application that 'in vivo' uses could include pharmaceutical preparations for the treatment of bacterial infection. 'Ex vivo' uses include in the manufacture of food, food packaging, medical devices and pharmaceutical compositions, including application to or use in the making of surfaces – such as in medical devices and foods or food packaging – to inhibit formation of bacterial biofilm.

Biofilm formation – where microorganisms latch onto a surface – is a big issue amid increasing use of implants, artificial heart valves and so on, but can be extremely resistant to removal and disinfection, it said.

Titled “Use of hydroxytyrosol and derivatives thereof as quorum quenchers,” the World Intellectual Property Organization patent application lists a wide range of bacterial species for which hydroxytyrosol and its derivatives could be used as quorum quenchers.

These include forms of Campylobacter, E. coli, Salmonella and Shigella – often culprits in food-borne illness – and three types of Staph.

The application describes tests of HT, HTA and DOPAC on several common infectious bacteria and validation against the QS biosensor strain C. violaceum. These led to the conclusion that while the tested compounds can’t be considered effective antimicrobial agents for the tested strains (as very high concentrations are needed), they did demonstrate QS inhibitor capacity.

Seprox Biotech said the formulas which are the subject of its patent application can be synthetic or extracted from their natural source, in which case a high level of purity is needed.

Hydroxytyrosol can be found in the leaves and fruits of the olive tree, and in extra virgin olive oil, and is especially abundant in olive oil mill wastewater, from where it can be recovered, it said.

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