Olive oil has earned the reputation of being one of the most useful products. It is actively used in medicine, nutrition and cosmetology.
Even the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, who did not think about how much the olive fruit is rich in mineral micronutrients, appreciated its unique properties and the divine origin of the olive tree.
So, let’s try to understand, what are the benefits of olive oil, which was called by the legendary ancient poet Homer “liquid gold”.
Benefits and Harms of Olive Oil: the History of the Olive
The origins of the olive, as well as other products well-known for their beneficial properties, is shrouded in mystery. Scientists suggest that the olive tree comes from Egypt. And only thanks to the Phoenician merchants, it came to Greece, Spain and Italy, where it is most prevalent.
In mythology, there is a dissenting opinion about this magical tree: the Greek legend says that the goddess Athena in a dispute with Poseidon plunged his spear into the ground, and in this place an olive tree has grown. Egyptians argue that olive was first planted in the ground by Isis, the goddess of fertility.
Whatever it was, the fruit of the olive tree has more than six thousand years of history, and has been successfully used as an effective therapeutic and cosmetic products.
Benefits of Olive Oil
Olive oil is credited with many medicinal properties, it is hard to believe the fact that one product is capable of all this. So, we shall understand, what is the use of “liquid gold.”
As one of the basic components of the Mediterranean diet, olive oil has a positive effect on the digestive system. The secret is in the high content of monounsaturated fatty acid t, in particular – oleic acid, which reduces the cholesterol. Olive oil is easily absorbed by the body, it reduces appetite, increases metabolism and has a beneficial effect on the stomach.
Regular consumption of olive oil is an excellent means of prevention of cardiovascular diseases: it strengthens blood vessels and makes them more flexible.
Most of the medicines that can help reduce the blood pressure are created on the basis of olive leaves. Moreover, olive oil has beneficial effects on bones, prevents calcium loss, which makes the product of particular value for children.
The benefits of olive oil is still in the fact that linoleic acid promotes rapid healing of wounds and burns, and it is useful to maintain muscle tone and the normal functioning of body tissues. In addition, the favorable effect of linoleic acid supports vision and coordination. More than one hundred years ago, our ancestors discovered that olive oil can help in the treatment of psychological disorders.
But one of the most surprising beneficial properties of olive oil, which was proved by numerous studies, is that it reduces the risk of cancer, particularly breast cancer. Oleic acid, vitamins and antioxidants that make up the oil, inhibit the growth of cancer cells, and also they eliminate toxins, which, among other factors, affect the mutation of cells.
Olive Oil in the Service of Beauty
Not only doctors value the benefits of olive oil, but also cosmeticians, who actively include this product in the creams, masks and balms for the face, hair and body.
Even in ancient times beauties used olive oil as a cleansing, anti-inflammatory and moisturizing agents for the skin. The mask made of the oil is an anti-aging remedy, which helps to reduce fine lines due to the unique substances – squalene and squalane.
Phenols slow the aging process, making the skin smooth and silky, besides, olive oil protects the skin from harmful sun rays.
For hair olive oil is also a magic bullet. Everyone knows the recipe for a very simple nourishing hair mask: mix the olive and sunflower oils in equal proportions and add an egg yolk and a teaspoon of honey. As a result, hair will gain luxury radiance and strength, which the curls of Spanish and Italian women is famous for. They regularly use such masks and consume olive oil in food. olive oil provides vitamins A and E, which make the hair shiny and rich.
Not to mention another nice feature of olive oil – it is often used for massage and rubbing. The oil softens and moisturizes the skin, accelerates the removal of harmful substances and improves the secretion of the glands.
Harms of olive oil
Although olive oil is one of the most useful products, yet we can not ignore some of the negative consequences that may result from its overuse.
Despite the fact that olive oil is widely used in dietetics, you should clearly observe the dose – two tablespoons of oil per day, because this product is quite high in calories: 100 grams olive oil contains about 900 calories, and one tablespoon – about 150 calories.
Also, do not forget that foods fried in olive oil are still bad for the body. In fact, any oil, including olive oil, not only loses its beneficial properties by heating, but becomes deleterious. You need to eat olive oil without heat treatment.
However, it is worth repeating that all these negative qualities of the product are shown only in the case if a person eats too much olive oil.
How to Choose It
- Olive oil, like others, can be refined and unrefined. All the nutrients are preserved only with a minimum of heat. Thus, preference is given to unrefined oil. For example, for the production of the oil “Ideal” one of the most fertile provinces of Spain – Seville is chosen, where a special sort of olives ripen. Like thousands of years ago, Ideal is produced by direct expression without adding preservatives and impurities.
- In addition, on the packaging is often possible to meet one of the three inscriptions – virgin (natural), refined (purified) or pomace (pomace). Buy the first option.
- If on the label the word “mix” is written, it means it is produced by mixing different varieties of oil, which has a negative effect on its properties.
- The beneficial properties of olive oil are stored for five months, so you need to pay attention to the date of manufacture of the product.
- The lower the acidity of the oil is, the milder flavor it has. In the most high-quality varieties of olive oil, the figure is only 0.8%.
- The best olive oil is produced and bottled in the same region. Learn the origin of the product by designations IGP or DOP. IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta) means that the spin of olives was produced in one country, such as Greece or Spain, and the oil was already packed outside these regions. Abbreviation DOP (Denominazione d ‘Origine Protetta) indicates that the oil was produced and packaged in the same country.
- Do not try to determine the quality of the oil by its color, this property is influenced by factors such as the variety of olives, their degree of maturity and harvest time.
- Olive oil keeps all the properties best in glass containers.