This article was originally written by Ruth Polak
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The cultivation of olive trees has been traced as far back as 6,000 B.C.
in Syria and there is certainly evidence that oil from this marvellous
plant has been used for thousands of years in the Mediteranean regions.
There are many references to its’ use in the Bible, both for culinary
and ceremonial purposes, and of course an olive branch has been adopted as
a sign of peace ever since the dove returned to Noah carrying one and thus
indicating that the flood waters were receeding.
In more recent times the health giving properties that the
ancients attributed to olive oil have been substantiated by modern science
and it is now generaly agreed that it has the ability to lower
cholesterol levels, thus reducing the risk of heart attacks. In addition
olive oil has very high levels of the antioxidant vitamins E and K which
provide a defence mechanism that delays ageing and prevents carcinogenesis,
atherosclerosis and liver disorders. It has very high levels of monounstautated
fats, 77%, and it is this which attributed with the ability to positively
alter the ratio between good and bad cholesterol.
The Mediterranean Diet, in which olive oil plays an
important part, is now considered to be one of the healthiest in the world with
people from those regions experiencing lower rates of heart diseaes, cancer
and other degenerative diseases than elsewhere in the Western World.
The olives are pressed as soon as possible once they arrive at the mills.
This is done mechanicaly today and whilst it maybe filtered it is otherwise
untreated and so is totally natural. Olive oil is then graded according
to its’ acidity.
Extra Virgin Olive.
Oil Virgin olive oil having a maximum free acidity, in terms of oleic
acid, of 0.8g per 100g, the other characteristics of which comply with
those laid down from this category.
Virgin Olive Oil.
Virgin olive oil having a maximum free acidity, in terms of oleic acid
of 2g per 100g, the other characteristics of which comply with those
laid down from this category.
Olive oil obtained by blending refined olive oil and virgin olive oil,
other than lampante oil, having a free acid content, expressed as
oleic acid, of not more than 1.5g per 100g and the other characteristics
of which comply with those laid down from this category.
Olive Pomace Oil.
Oil obtained by blending refined olive-pomace oil and virgin olive oil
other than lampante oil, having a free acid content expressed as oleic
acid of not more than 1.5g per 100g and the other characteristics of
which comply with those laid down from this category.
In addition to its’ many health giving benefits olive oil can also be used externally as
a beauty and health aid:-
For the softest hands imaginable:
Mix one teaspoon of olive oil with half a teaspoon of salt and massage
into your hands. The salt exfoliates and the oil softens. You will be
amazed at how soft, smooth and blemish free your hands look. Also
useful for removing heavy staining, oil etc. Works well on elbows,
knees, feet and can be used as an all over scrub prior to bathing
(probably best to take a shower unless you fancy sitting in the middle
of an oil slick!). For particularly rough skin, substitute sugar for
For soft, shiny, manageable hair:
Massage olive oil into your hair and leave for as long as possible
before shampooing. Repeat weekly.
To prevent dandruff:
Rub into the hair a mixture of olive oil and Eau de Cologne. Then
rinse and shampoo as normal.
For a relaxing massage:
Warm some olive oil (place container in hot water for 5 minutes) and
add a drop or two of your favourite essential oil.
Warm some olive oil as above, add a few drops to the ear and then plug
with cooton wool.
In addition to the oil that can be obtained from this wonderful ancient
tree the fruits themselves can also be eaten and are likewise a very healthy
addition to any diet. They too are of course high in heart protecting
monounsaturated fats and vitamin E and they also contain a variety of
phytonutrients such as polyphenols and flavonoids. The
anti-inflammatory actions of the monounsaturated fats, vitamin E and
polyphenols in olives may also help reduce the severity of asthma,
osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis, three conditions where most
of the damage is caused by high levels of free radicals. The vitamin E
in olives may even help to reduce the frequency and/or intensity of
hot flushes in women going through menopause.