Although Olive oil can be used for cooking, it is recommended to take it raw, such as salad dressing or cold soups, since this way it keeps all its properties. It is a vegetable oil that is obtained from the olive or olive (name in Latin), fruit of the olive or olive, a beautiful tree that can reach 15 meters high with the wide crown and the thick trunk, short and twisted. This Mediterranean tree is considered native to Greece and Asia Minor where the forests of wild olive trees (acebuches) are still lavished. It’s fissured gray-silver bark and its slightly pointed green lanceolate leaves give it a unique beauty.
In the Mediterranean Diet
The olive oil is one of the most important elements of the healthy Mediterranean diet. It has components that bring great benefits for health, both as a culinary ingredient and for its therapeutic use in its internal and external use. Olive oil is considered a staple food, and although only a few decades ago science has recognized its valuable contribution to health, olive cultivation has been practiced for more than 6000 years. In ancient times, civilizations such as the Egyptian, Greek, or Roman, used it both for its culinary qualities and for its medicinal properties. In Greece it acquired a great commercial value and they say that the Roman aristocracy valued in a great way the oil coming from the Iberian Peninsula.
Varieties of Olives
95% of olive cultivation is in Mediterranean countries. In Spain you can find up to 260 varieties of this ancestral tree, being the world’s leading producer of this precious oil. There are table olives that are used for consumption as fruit, in appetizers, salads, and other dishes.
In Spain, the best known olives are:
According to its coloration we would highlight three types, green, purple and black olives. All receive a treatment to lose the acidity. The oil is the juice extracted from olives or olives, of which there are many varieties that give it different flavor, smell and properties.
Types of Olive Oil
There are different types of olive oil, depending on the mode of extraction or processing. The most appreciated oil and with the greatest increase in demand is extra virgin olive oil (especially organic). This variety is obtained by means of cold pressing, which is achieved in a natural way with a mechanical crushing and olive press procedure, extracting the oil with all its properties without needing to be refined. The quality of the type of oil is defined not only by its flavor or texture, but by its degree of acidity and its greater or lesser percentage of antioxidants, vitamin E, polyphenols, beta-carotene and other components that will grant greater biological value.
“This is influenced by the maturation and quality of the olive as well as the technology or machinery used”.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil:
Considered high quality, its acidity should not exceed 0.8 degrees. This acidity is in direct proportion to the free fatty acids and depends on the process of elaboration of the product to a great extent. High acidity means defects in the olive, in the treatment or in the conservation.
Virgin Olive Oil:
At the most it reaches 2 degrees of acidity, and it is also of great quality, the extraction procedure is equal to the previous one.
Its acidity exceeds 2 degrees which does not make it suitable for consumption because of its bitter taste. Normally it goes through a refining process in which it loses its acidity but also its quality.
Refined Olive Oil:
For its high acidity, either because the olive is not of good quality or because of the deficient extraction process, it needs to go through a process to eliminate impurities that also ends with its color, flavor, natural aroma and many other properties. Of course, the acidity drops to 0.3 degrees.
A mixture of virgin and refined that reaches a degree of acidity and that contains some qualities of the virgins, but of much less quality.
Olive Pomace Oil:
It is achieved through the application of chemical products in the remains of olives that have already been pressed and ground. With which non-edible crude pomace oil is obtained. It is mixed with refined lampante oil and gives rise to the less natural oil of lower quality, which must not exceed a degree of acidity. We recommend betting on extra virgin olive oil, if it is environmentally friendly, that even if it costs more in the long run, you can win. We can consider it as an investment in Health as well as pleasing the palate.
The King of the Kitchen
The olive oil provides a very pleasant and characteristic aroma and flavor to the dishes. Both raw and cooked, varies according to the type of olive used. We suggest trying several different brands in raw, made with different types of olives and so we can delight with different culinary flavors.
Crude is used to:
- Dress salads, vegetables, and any other dish.
- At breakfast to spread the toast with oil, salt and tomato, as a side dish of sandwiches and sandwiches.
- In the creation of sauces, cold soups and entrees.
Hot is used to:
- Seasoning stir-fries for stews and other stews, roasted in the oven of vegetables, fish or meat.
- As ingredients for making bread, cookies, biscuits, muffins and all kinds of pastries.
In fried foods it is used to:
- It is convenient because it does not alter in high temperatures close to 200 degrees. In addition cooked foods take their characteristic flavor and aroma, although always in this process lose properties.
When it comes to frying, do not get to smoke before putting the food, and do not reuse the oil more than 5 times, if possible with similar foods.
We will distinguish two main sectors in its composition, fats (98%) and the rest. Of the fats of olive oil we can highlight that it has essential fatty acids for health. It has monounsaturated, saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
- The monounsaturates are oleic acid (75%) and palmitoleic acid (1.5%).
- The saturated ones are palmitic acid and stearic acid. (Between 10 and 20%)
- The polyunsaturates are Linoleic acid (from 3 to 15 %.) And Linolenic acid. (1.5%)
The other components are hydrocarbons, beta-carotene (provitamin A), sterols and tocopherols (vitamin E). Already in smaller quantities it also has poly-phenols that give it the flavor, carotenes and chlorophyll that give it its color, as well as other volatile components that give it its peculiar smell. It also contains antioxidants that prevent it from becoming enranged.
A single spoonful of extra virgin olive oil a day gives us 60 calories without cholesterol, prevents cardiovascular diseases, provides antioxidants and a part of the recommended dose of vitamin E. Among the antioxidants are the polyphenols that protect the heart, reducing the action of free radicals and preventing the plaques from attaching to the arteries, as well as having an anti-inflammatory effect. Each spoonful has 7 grams of fat of which most are unsaturated, which makes olive oil a great contribution of “good fats”. Several studies carried out since the last century show that olive oil prevents when it comes to avoiding cardiovascular diseases. The recommended dose would be about 40 grams a day, which is equivalent to two or three tablespoons. Among its many benefits we can highlight:
- Heart protector: The olive oil in its composition is rich in oleic acid (between 60-80%), which is a mono-unsaturated fat very beneficial for the body, especially for the circulatory system.
- Level the cholesterol: Virgin olive oil lavishes the good cholesterol (HDL) necessary for health, and prevents bad cholesterol (LDL). This prevents cardiovascular diseases and prevents the increase in blood pressure.
- Lowers blood pressure: Studies conducted in Spain confirm that the olive oil consumed usually helps the cells lining the blood vessels, thus lowering blood pressure.
- Fight osteoporosis: The regular consumption of olive oil attenuates the problems of osteoporosis by collaborating with the thickening of the bone mass, since the loss of this mass makes the bone tissues more prone to the disease.
- Mineralization of bones: It is important that olive oil is also in the diet of children and adults, as it helps to nourish the bones of the minerals in the diet, helping in the absorption of calcium and magnesium.
- Prevents skin cancer: Its habitual consumption in the daily diet prevents malignant melanoma, which is the worst type of skin cancer.
- Powerful antioxidant: It has a high content of phenolic antioxidants, such as vitamin E, which act as protectors against cellular oxidative stress.
- It favors the digestion: Raw virgin olive oil reduces the secretion of gastric acids protecting the stomach from diseases derived from excess acidity. It also helps the gallbladder in the creation of bile.
- Fight constipation: Its habitual consumption is a moderate laxative, also favors the absorption of nutrients.
- It helps to lose weight: Studies say that the use of olive oil provides healthy energy but also gives an important feeling of fullness.
- Help in type II diabetes: If the consumption of saturated fat that leads to obesity is replaced by olive oil rich in unsaturated fatty acids such as oleic acid, then we avoid all the contraindications that overweight entails such as type II diabetes.
- Improves metabolic and cognitive functions: By positively influencing the formation of cell membranes and also brain tissues. The consumption of monounsaturated fats and the antioxidant effects of polyphenols are directly related to cognitive improvements, helping to preserve memory.
Other Properties for Health
- Relieves ear pain: Moisten a cotton swab and gently rub the outer ear walls gently.
- Avoid snoring: A teaspoon of olive oil before going to bed lubricates the throat and avoids the problems of hoarseness at night.
- Hair conditioner: Especially for dry hair, the olive oil acts as a moisturizer, a little trickle is spilled and the scalp is massaged.
- Antidepressant: A low-fat diet accompanied by a moderate use of olive oil can relieve depressive states.
External Use of the Oil
For millennia the oil has been used externally for skin or hair. They say that Galen used it in the second century mixed with waxes to make creams. It is also used as an ointment for massage for its ability to moisturize the skin and make it more elastic. Similar effects produced on the hair and nails. Olive oil is used as eye make-up remover, hair conditioner and as a soap once mixed with caustic soda for cleaning the whole body. Currently you can find in the market a multitude of toiletries and cosmetics with olive oil as the main ingredient.
We can Highlight Some as:
- Hand cream.
- Marseille soap natural
- Syrian soap with olive oil and laurel
- Moisturizing body milk with olive oil and green tangerine
- Rejuvenating facial moisturizer
- Exfoliating soap, foot cream and elbows
- Exfoliating sponge with olive bones
- Bath gel
- Body oil
- Facial hydronutrient cream
- Solar milk
- Lip balm and many more.
There are also homemade preparations made with olive oil for different cosmetic uses, which are made by mixing it with other oils, lemon, wax, honey or dairy products.