Olive oil has been known to a mankind since ancient times. This product, poetically called by Homer “the liquid gold”, is used in cooking, medicine and cosmetics for thousands of years.
What is so good about olive oil, what are its valuable qualities and how to use it with the best benefit? In this article we will try to shed some light on these questions.
Where does it come from:
Olive oil is produced from the fruit of the olive tree. Olives grow in all the countries of the Mediterranean and according to historians they were brought here from Egypt.
In the mythology, the olive tree is endowed with mystical and even divine origin – by the Greek legend, the first olive tree grew miraculously on the spot where Aphrodite had plunged her spear into the ground.
For over five thousand years humanity enjoys the gifts of this truly magical tree.
Olive oil is produced by pressing/crushing olives. There are many ways of pressing olives – from squeezing olives between the millstones used in the ancient times to the modern mechanized production. The best quality oil comes from the first cold press. It retains all valuable vitamins and minerals.
In the medicine:
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids. Oleic acid helps to reduce cholesterol level. Olive oil is well absorbed by the body, it improves metabolism and is very advantageous for the stomach. In addition, it is an excellent prophylactic for cardiovascular diseases as it helps to strengthen the walls of blood vessels and makes them more flexible.
Many of the modern medicine for reducing of the blood pressure are made on the basis of olive leaves. Linoleic acid, a main component of olive oil is indispensable for healing of wounds and burns. In addition, it has beneficial effects on the muscle tone and is very good for eyes.
The most amazing quality of olive oil is that it lowers the risk of malignant tumors. Oleic acid, vitamins and antioxidants help cells to get rid of toxins affecting the mutation process.
Beauticians are aware of the benefits of olive oil from the time immemorial. They widely use this product in the manufacture of creams and masks for the face, body and hair.
Mask based on olive oil contributes to the rejuvenation of facial skin and helps smoothing fine wrinkles. Responsible for this property is a natural emollient squalene which is found in the olive oil.
Phenols contained in the olive oil are slowing down aging process of the skin, leaving it smooth and silky. At the same time they protect the skin from harmful influence of the solar radiation.
In hair cosmetics, olive oil is absolutely irreplaceable. Even the basic homemade hair mask made of olive oil, egg yolk and honey, gives hair shine and strength. All this thanks to vitamins A and E that olive oil contains in plenty.
Olive oil is widely used for massage. It softens and moisturizes the skin, discharges it from toxins and improves the functioning of the glands.
In the kitchen
Thanks to its unique taste and benefits for the body, refined and unrefined olive oil is irreplaceable for preparing endless variety of dishes, from the simple to the most exquisite culinary delights.
Extra virgin oil is most commonly used in cooking for salad’s seasoning and improving the taste of ready meals. Because of its unique dietary properties, olive oil has the ability to adjust the acidity, so it’s ideally combined with wine, vegetables, vinegar and even fruits such as avocados. Olive oil softens the taste of some herbs and spices. By adding a small amount of olive oil into a spicy dish, you will make it taste softer and provide it with a unique, delicate flavor.
Even if we are talking about fried or steamed food, using olive oil is also the best option. The only difference is that for frying and stewing it is better to use refined olive oil. Refined olive oil does not produce carcinogens during frying process, and retains its useful properties even at the temperatures above 200 degrees.
And of course we should not forget about sauces made of olive oil. The famous French cuisine, knows no other but olive oil as a base for delicious sauces and salad dressings.
Indeed, olive oil is truly indispensable for every kitchen. Even a beginner cook, not yet mastered in all the nuances of the culinary art, knows that olive oil is his loyal aid on the road to perfection.
How to choose:
Now, when we have learned that the olive oil is useful not only in cooking but also in medicine and cosmetics, let’s find out how to choose a good olive oil.
- Always buy natural oil, which is indicated on the label with the words “Virgin” or “Extra Virgin”.
- Make sure to that there is no word “mix”, written on the bottle. That would mean that this oil was produced by mixing different types of oils; which influences taste and quality of oil.
- Pay attention to the date of the manufacture of oil, as its beneficial properties are preserved no longer than 5 months.
- Always Look for oil with low acidity – acidity level should be 0.8% or even lower.
- The best oil is made in the same region where the olives are grown.
- The best way to preserve olive oil is to contain it in a dark glass bottles.