Olive oil is extracted from the pressed fruits of an olive tree, also known by its scientific name of Olea Europaea. It is mostly made up of eighty percent oleic acid and fatty acid compounds composing equal amounts of palmitic acid and linoleic acid—twenty percent each of the entire extracted oil. Extra virgin olive oil is approximately less one percent of free acidity and has a more distinct flavor than regular olive oils.
Harvesting olive fruits can be traced back as early as the 8th BC, while olive oil production can be traced back between 4,500 and 6,000 BC, where archeologists found evidence that olive fruits were turned into oil in a prehistoric settlement near Jerusalem. Olive oil is an important commodity, especially in ancient times; in the Bible, it’s used to fuel lamps and even used as anointment oil in their ceremonial events.
The largest producer of olive oils mostly comes from countries along the Mediterranean like Italy, Spain, and Greece. Some countries like Australia and some countries in the Middle East and South America also produce olive oil. California is also known to produce and export olive oil.
Ways to Use It
Olive oil has a variety of colors, shelf life, and characteristics depending on what region it’s harvested or if it’s pressed ripe or unripe. For example, when unripe olive fruits are pressed you may notice tiny shades of greenish appearance in it. Because of these varieties, its consumption may depend on different applications.
Olive oil is popularly used for culinary purposes, mostly as cooking oil and mixture in salads or gourmet dishes. Among Mediterranean countries, it’s considered part of their three main plant food staple; the other two is wheat and grapes. But the purpose of olive oil goes beyond to just adding flavor to your daily meals. Olive oil has many uses, like moisturizer and make-up removal, and some will be discussed later on in this article.
It has gained popularity among health buffs and individuals on a diet because of studies shown that olive oil, especially extra virgin olive oil, contains dietary fatty acids, some essential nutrients, and loaded with antioxidants which helps maintain a healthy weight. Olive oil also has anti-inflammatory compounds that may reduce the risk of heart disease, arthritis, type-2 diabetes, and metabolic syndromes. It may also prevent inflammations link with memory loss caused by dementia or Alzheimer’s.
In the past few years, several studies have been made regarding the positive effects of olive oil on our health. Listed below are some of the results of these studies:
Olive oil is rich in antioxidants
Antioxidants are known to flush out toxins from the body and protect us against free radicals. Olive oil, especially extra virgin olive oil, is rich with these compounds. It supports and maintains a healthy weight and cleanses the intestinal tracts.
Supports a healthy cardiovascular system
An interesting study was conducted among the general population living in the Mediterranean regions; they observed that individuals having a Mediterranean diet tend to have a lower rate of any cardiovascular disease.
Extensive research was made by an institute in Barcelona; they observed particularly the biological effects of the olive oil on the body. They suggest that individuals consuming olive oil on a regular basis are likely to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases like hyperlipidemia, stroke, and high blood pressure.
Another research in Madrid was conducted where they observed about forty-thousand adults, ranging from twenty-five to seventy years old for eleven years. They looked into their lifestyle, particularly their diet. It appears that people in the Mediterranean who mostly use sunflower and olive oil to fry or sauté their foods are less prone to heart-related disease comparing to other populations.
Olive oil contains anti-inflammatory compounds
The anti-inflammatory compound found in olive oil is due to the presence of antioxidants. Extra virgin olive oil contains a certain anti-inflammatory compound called oleocanthal; this compound isn’t present in regular olive oils. Researchers believed it works like ibuprofen. They observed that regular intake lowers the risk of thrombosis, endothelial dysfunction, carbohydrate metabolism and it prevents a certain protein from causing inflammations within tissue walls.
Lowers the risk of depression
The typical cooking oil used in fast food restaurants and those we use in our kitchens are high in trans-fat. Individuals who consume high trans-fat on a regular basis increase the risks of depression.
Dietary fatty acids from olive oil is a healthier alternative, studies suggest that fatty acids from olive oil slightly reduces the risk of depression.
Olive oil may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
The elderly are usually at risk of Alzheimer’s disease and one of the most common among the elderly.
The main characteristic of Alzheimer’s is a certain kind of protein accumulates in the brain, causing damage over time. According to research, compounds in olive oil breaks down these build up preventing damage to the brain cells.
These claims by the researchers weren’t conclusive yet and further studies need to be made. Therefore, olive oil mustn’t replace medications prescribed by your doctor.
Lowers risk of cancer
Researchers observed that cancer cases in the along the Mediterranean regions are rare. This led the researchers to believe that the antioxidants found in olive oil are likely the cause.
These claims are inconclusive and mustn’t replace any therapy or medication. However, there is no harm if you incorporate olive oil in your daily meals.
Other Uses of Olive Oil
Olive oil is not only useful in the kitchen but it’s also used for other purposes, like:
Beauty experts believe that because of its vitamin e content, olive oil is a natural moisturizer. It’s both applicable on hair and skin.
Compounds in olive oil help break down water-resistant chemicals in make-up, which will be easily removed when washed with water or wiped with a tissue.
Mix olive oil with a tiny sprinkle of sugar and for added flavor, add a small amount of lemon-lime. This mixture acts as a moisturizer for chapped lips and scrubs dead lip skins.
Ear wax removal treatment
A tiny drop of olive oil in your ear after you go to sleep, about four to five nights of application, may help loosen the wax build up in your ear.