History and Health Benefits of Olive Oil

A Natural Product Essential in the Fight Against Arteriosclerosis

The health benefits of Olive Oil, its history and versatility. An Olive oil rich diet has helped mankind for the past 10,000 years.

In this day and age of health awareness, with cholesterol and blocked arteries a main cause of heart problems the world over, there is a natural product that has now, and always has been, an essential product in the fight against Arteriosclerosis.

History of Olive Oil

The cultivation of olive trees is as old as the hills and the wild olive tree can be traced back to 8000 years BC. The olive tree is native to the Mediterranean region and from here it has spread to the US, Australia, Latin America and Asia. In America, California is the main region for the production of olive oil. Also as reported in The Nation about 15 years ago, Thailand, under an initiative of His Majesty the King, took its first tentative steps into olive growing and today olive groves can be found in areas between Phetchabun and Chiang Mai.

Even though olive tree cultivation and olive oil production can be considered a global enterprise it is truly a European achievement. Spain is the main producer and it accounts for 30% of world supply. Also Turkey, to where the first record of domestication of the wild olive tree can be traced, accounted for 25% of the world supply in 2006.

Although Portugal produces only a small percentage of the world supply it is still very highly regarded as a viable crop in the Algarve. There is a 20 hectare olive grove planted in Moncarapacho in the Eastern Algarve and it is from here the exquisite Monterosa Extra Virgin Olive Oil comes.

Health Benefits of Olive Oil

Olive oil can be used for cleaning wooden furniture, removing make-up, shaving, lubricating locks and hinges and any number of other household chores. It is even good for your pets.

The great benefit of this liquid gold is in its healthy properties in the human diet. Olive oil is rich in mono unsaturated fatty acids, mainly Oleic Acid. It is widely believed that by using extra virgin olive oil in a daily diet, one may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and also the risk of diabetes. A diet rich in olive oil also reduces arteriosclerosis and serum cholesterol.

Types of Olive Oil

There are three distinct types of olive oil plus a fourth modern type called Light Olive Oil. The light oil is not a regulated process so it is not possible to certify it. However the three main types are Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Virgin Olive Oil and Pure Olive Oil. The less handling the olives have during processing the better the oil, and extra virgin is the best. It comes from the first pressing of the olives. Virgin, with somewhat more processing involved, comes from the second pressing and Pure Oil undergoes the most processing and is sold simply as “Olive Oil”.

Extra Virgin Olive oil is expensive so care should be taken in the kitchen. Sun and heat are the main enemies of olive oil. The oil is very often presented in attractive bottles and the temptation to leave these bottles on show in the kitchen should be avoided at all times. Keep the oil, preferably in the box it came in, out of sight and a cool cupboard is ideal.

But no matter where this golden liquid is stored in the kitchen, scullery or pantry it is an essential ingredient in many dishes and more importantly in a healthy lifestyle.

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