Olive Oil Gives Diet a Healthy Boost!


Mary Shearer- Owner of Twisted Olive in Naperville

As a self-proclaimed chef, olive oil and balsamic vinegar are staples in my kitchen. Given that I follow the Mediterranean diet, I believe in the benefits of including both in a well-rounded diet. But there’s more to olive oil and balsamic vinegar than just a dipping sauce. Mary Shearer, owner of Twisted Olive in Naperville, has created a store that offers a wide range of balsamic vinegars and olive oils guaranteed to please the palette and supply some health benefits as well.

In July 2010, Mary opened Twisted Olive, which was inspired by an olive oil store she visited in California. Mary’s desire to create a business that offered something unique as well as beneficial to her customers inspired the opening of her store just off Washington Street in downtown Naperville.

Since opening the store, Mary has taught many customers about the taste as well as the health benefits of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

“The most surprising thing is what a huge difference using extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) and Balsamic Vinegar (BV) makes in terms of flavor. And, you don’t have to be a chef to ‘get it,’” she said. “I’m not a great cook, but I have found that it is so easy to make food taste better and be healthier at the same time. It is my feeling that if food has more flavor, we will tend to eat less!”

Twisted Olive offers about 40 different flavors of EVOO and BV on any given day. It varies according to season.

“Since our EVOO is imported, sometimes we cannot get everything we order because of availability,” Mary said. “We have 10 EVOO’s, give or take, that get all of their taste from the olives themselves. That is to say that they are not infused with herbs or anything else, simply pure olive oil.”

Mary encourages mixing flavors to make dressings or marinades. She reinforces that they are all natural, no added sugar, preservatives, nothing.

“One of my favorite dressings is mixing Meyer Lemon EVOO with pomegranate balsamic vinegar. Positively heavenly!”

So other than really great taste, what are the benefits of olive oil and balsamic vinegar?

Although some people shy away from olive oil because of the fat content, it’s all about moderation. Having a bowl of EVOO with a loaf of bread, probably not the best idea. But using EVOO and BV in dishes you cook and using sparingly for a dipping sauce or dressing, offers some nice health benefits.

Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat that can help lower your risk of heart disease by improving related risk factors. Monounsaturated fats may also help normalize blood clotting. Some research shows that monounsaturated fats may also benefit insulin levels and control blood sugar levels, which can be especially helpful for type 2 diabetics.

In the May issue of The American Journal of Nutrition, studies show that salad dressing, especially oil and vinegar, contain alpha linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that has protective effects against heart disease. The study also showed that women who consumed one to two tablespoons of vinaigrette almost every day had about a 50 percent reduction in heart disease.

Vinegar tends to be the silent partner in dressings, but vinegar has been around for hundreds of years and was actually used as a health tonic to relieve fatigue, help digestion and aid in weight loss. Vinegar has shown to have cancer-fighting antioxidants, work as a natural appetite suppressant, reduce cholesterol to prevent heart disease and, may help slow the process of osteoporosis. Who ever thought something that tasted so good would be good for you, too!

“I am on a quest to make meal time more of a family time again,” Mary said. “I believe if we take the opportunity to add some great flavor to better ingredients then meal time becomes more meaningful and healthier. It doesn’t take any more time to cook this way. It just takes a little planning and practice,.

To learn more about Twisted Olive, visit twistedoliveimports.com or call 630-778-9550.

(Reprinted from Naperville Sun 8/17 edition)

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