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The Magic of Olive Oil

By Ruth Polak

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.

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

the salt.

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.

For Earache:

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.

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