A Day at Cobram Estate + the Health Benefits of Australian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
I recently had the privilege of spending a day at Cobram Estate‘s beautiful olive groves to learn and experience first-hand how olives are grown, harvested, and created into extra virgin olive oil. We met with Rob McGavin, one of the very passionate owners of Cobram Estate, and learnt how Cobram Estate is committed to running as sustainable as possible. We spoke to a Nutritionist about the scientific research behind Australian Extra Virgin Olive Oil and the health benefits (I’m big on clinical nutrition and food as medicine so I loved this). Oh and we were treated to delicious food and wine by a brilliant chef! As a self-confessed nutrition nerd and foodie (and someone who already loves and uses extra virgin olive oil), I found this amazing!
Something I’m really passionate about is the quality of the food we eat as it makes a huge difference to our health. Knowing what is in your food, where it came from, how it was grown and made is so important. The passion that Rob and the team at Cobram Estate have for producing the highest quality, fresh tasting, healthy extra virgin olive oil was nothing short of inspiring! I think I loved that most about the day – getting to witness people loving what they do any genuinely caring about health and about creating the best. Their hard work and years of research has resulted in the making of Australia’s No.1 Extra Virgin Olive Oil (we’ll call it AEVOO – “ay-ee-vo” and EVOO for short). AEVOO is not like any ordinary olive oil an I’ll explain why.
Olive harvesting at Cobram Estate
Did you know olives are only harvested once a year, for 24hrs a day from April to June? I had no idea. We were taken on a tour of Cobram Estate and watched olives being harvested off the trees from the top of the harvester! The olives are delivered into trucks and are under a strict timer. As soon as the first olive is plucked, they have only 2 hours before delivering these to the processing plant. It ensures the olives retain all their natural goodness that give olive oil its health benefits and fresh delicious flavour.
Next stop was the processing plant where they turn olives into the liquid goodness. The olives are cleaned, pressed and churned through a machine, then spun to extract the healthy oils inside. The smell of fresh olives was so strong! We got to taste it straight from production while we learnt about their strict monitoring and control methods. The olive oil is cold-pressed, which is important to retain the health benefits and not damage the oil. Can you believe it takes 4-6 hours from the time the olives are picked to being made into oil?! These guys are seriously passionate about freshness!
We went on to an olive oil tasting, and I was honesty surprised at how different Cobram Estate’s extra virgin olive oil tasted. Each of their oils tasted incredibly fresh and light feeling (you would expect it to taste “oily” right?!). It hits your tongue with a flavoursome, bitter, fragrant olive-y taste. Perfect for dressing fresh salads, through pasta sauces, roasting, and dipping crusty sourdough bread into.
Ok, ok, I’m getting to the food. Or shall I just show you how yum it was… Chef Kevin O’Connor showcased different way to use AEVOO in cooking, from a beautiful ancient grain salad of quinoa, barley, raisins and fresh herbs, to indulgent pork belly with radicchio and nectarine, seasonal vegetables roasted in AEVOO, to a melt-in-your-mouth chocolate brownie! Oh my goodness, I was full!
I’ve used extra virgin olive oil in my recipes before, like my beet hummus, cleansing pumpkin carrot and ginger soup, as well as just generally over salads, roasted vegetables and in the pan before cooking fish or chicken. I’ve grown up on a fairly Mediterranean diet style, so using olive oil liberally is pretty normal to me!
Nutrition tip → Consuming healthy fats like olive oil enables us to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, E, D & K. EVOO also increases the antioxidant-rich phenols is vegetables. So important!
HEALTH BENEFITS of EVOO
+ Anti-Ageing +
EVOO contains potent sources of antioxidants (polyphenols, vitamin E and squalene which is unique to olives!). Antioxidants clean up free radicals in our body that cause oxidative stress that leads to ageing. Studies show AEVOO has significantly higher levels of antioxidants than regular olive oil and other oils.
EVOO is a great source of mono and poly unsaturated fats (oleic, linolenic and linoleic acids) which maintain the health of every cell in our body. When our cells are healthy they are less prone to damage (oxidation) that can lead to ageing. Another reason why its so important to include healthy fats in our diet.
+ Anti-Inflammatory +
Inflammation has received lots of press recently, with studies showing long-term inflammation being linked to numerous health conditions including Alzheimer’s, arthritis, asthma, cardiovascular diseases and many others. EVOO contains oleocanthal (only found in EVOO) and vitamin E, which work as a natural anti-inflammatory to reduce inflammation.
+ Heart Health +
Evidence shows the antioxidants and mono-unsaturated fats in EVOO reduces our risk of cardiovascular diseases. These compounds help to reduce blood pressure, reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol, as well as inhibiting LDL oxidation. If LDL particles are ‘oxidised’ or damaged, they cause plaque build up that leads to cardiovascular disease (atherosclerosis). Studies showed AEVOO contains higher levels of antioxidants and oleic acid (a mono-unsaturated fat) than any other oil.
+ Weight Management +
Studies have found that oleic acid that is rich in EVOO increases satiety, meaning the feeling of fullness that stops overeating, enabling you to maintain a healthy weight. It is also known that the Mediterranean diet, named one of the healthiest diets in the world, is rich in olive oil as their source of healthy fats. People who follow the Mediterranean diet have lower BMI and less obesity.
MYTH BUSTING FACT: Can I use EVOO in cooking and baking?
Yes, absolutely! Studies were conducted to ensure that EVOO was safe to cook with, and found that EVOO is actually the safest oil to cook with compared to other oils like canola, rice bran, grapeseed and even coconut oil. What they found was because EVOO has high levels of antioxidants and mono-unsaturated fats, this actually protects the oil from being damaged at high heat.
A very big and appreciative thank you to Rob and the team at Cobram Estate for treating us to an incredible day of learning and experiencing. I can’t wait to share my recipes using my very special Cobram Estate Limited Edition 2017 First Harvest Australian Extra Virgin Olive Oil!
So, what are your favourite ways to eat olive oil? Leave me a message below if you have any questions (or want further in-depth info), and share your favourite way to use olive oil.