The first section of the book makes sense of the emerging science and explains why olive oil is a fat that is good for you. It describes, in simple everyday language, the beneficial properties of monounsaturated oleic acid, the predominant type of fat in olive oil, in maintaining good levels of cholesterol and so helping to prevent coronary heart disease. It goes on to look at the part played by the non -fatty acid components in olive oil, such as phenols, and their powerful protective "anti-oxidants" and "anti-inflammator" effects in our bodies.
"However, not all olive oils are the same," says Ridgway. So how do you find the best oil to suit your palate and also give you the maximum health benefit? In the second part of the book we outline the effects that factors, such as the grade of oil, the olive variety, cultivation techniques and processing methods have on the health characteristics of different oils and go on to show how these factors can point to the extra virgin olive oils which are likely to be the most healthy.
The olive oil diet is a diet for life; it is the only diet you will ever need. It is not a single uniform pattern of eating to take up when you are trying to lose weight or are feeling unwell and leave when you are feeling better. It is a very versatile and wide ranging way of eating that can easily accommodate the seasonality and availability of particular ingredients, the varying pattern of individual tastes and preferences and fulfil the recommended levels of extra virgin olive oil and other nutrients.
The third section of the book explains the Seven Pillars of the Olive Oil Diet, seven groups of ingredients with a base of olive oil and contains a practical guide to producing great food. It shows how extra virgin olive oil can be used to give character and flavour to food and, at the same time, enhance the health qualities of the other ingredients in the dish. The fact that vegetables cooked in olive oil retain more of their fat soluble vitamins than steamed vegetables, coating fish in olive oil antioxidants protects the delicate omega3 oils, and that marinating meat can make it a more healthy ingredient are a few of the useful hints and tips included in the book. Practical advice is also given on menu planning, choosing ingredients and the best ways to cook them, dressing simple dishes to enhance their health benefits, using store cupboard items and buying and enhancing ready-made food.
The final section of the book includes over a hundred suggestions and recipes which start with olive oil and build up with a wide range of other healthy ingredients. These recipes are arranged around the modern lifestyle with plenty of ideas for fast food at home, healthy snacks and packed lunches. There are also recipes to make when more time is available including baked foods and desserts. "Any concern about finding ways to include two or even three tablespoons of olive oil in the daily diet should be soon dispelled!," higlights Ridgway.