Quinn on Nutrition: EVOO — so good!

September 19, 2016

I read online — so it must be true, right? — that country western singer Billy Currington drinks a shot of virgin olive oil before his concerts to lubricate his vocal cords. Makes sense to me … until you take a look at the anatomy of vocal cords.

What you eat and drink does not touch your vocal cords, explains speech-language pathologist and singing voice specialist Kristie Knickerbocker in a blog sponsored by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). When we swallow food, it comes in contact with the tongue, soft palate and throat as it makes its way down to our stomach. If food or fluids actually touch our vocal cords, that means we are aspirating (food is going into the lungs), says Knickerbocker. And that’s not good.

Not that a shot of olive oil is necessarily bad, says this expert. Although it can’t directly lubricate the vocal cords, it may provide some hydration from the inside out. Olive oil has also been associated with a lower risk for certain cancers, including cancer of the larynx — the organ that holds the vocal cords. Scientists attribute this benefit to the many antioxidant ingredients, including vitamin E, that reside naturally in the oil of olives.

Besides improving our singing ability, there are other reasons to include olive oil in our diets. Most notably is its association with a lower risk for heart disease. Olive oil’s main ingredients are fatty acids called MUFA — Monounsaturated Fatty Acids. MUFA’s are best known for their cholesterol lowering abilities when consumed in place of saturated and trans fatty acids. Substitute olive oil for some of the butter you use, for example, and expect to see cholesterol levels fall, especially the dangerous LDL type.

As healthful as it is, olive oil is still a fat. And all fats are packed with calories that can add extra poundage if we overdo. If you’re watching the scale, remember that one tablespoon of olive oil (measure it out and see how small that really is) contains 120 to 130 calories.

Why is everyone gaga over EVOO — Extra-Virgin Olive Oil? According to the California Olive Oil Council (COOC), Extra-virgin oil is made from olives that are gently pressed without extreme heat or added chemicals, producing delicate flavors. Use it to dress up salads and vegetables or in cooking. Virgin olive oil is also produced without chemicals but may be a bit less delicate in flavor. Store your oil in a cool dark place and use it within 6 months, says the COOC.

Use olive oil for cooking, salad dressings and for finishing glazes, suggest the folks at Gaea who make virgin and extra virgin olive oils from Greece. Their Kalamata Extra Virgin variety got my yum attention.

A recent article in Reader’s Digest announced "Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil and You Just Might Forget to Die." Who knows, you might sing better, too.




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