Considering that 1,400 AD, olive oil has been known as one of the Italian merchandise par excellence and has been the undisputed basis of the typical Mediterranean diet.
The olive tree is also considered a sacred plant because, in Greek mythology, it was the gift of Athena to humanity, blessed by Zeus for its many properties. Not only that, in Christian civilization, the biblical episode in which the dove returns to Noah on the ark with an olive branch symbolises the conclusion of the universal flood and peace found.
The thousand faces of olive oil
Olive oil is an all-round food, remarkably versatile and usable raw or in cooking, from appetisers to dessert, with a positive Outcome. It is not, therefore, a very simple condiment but an ingredient rich in flavour, which influences the very perception of the food it is accompanied by. There are three distinctions of olive oils: light fruity oils, medium fruity oils and intense fruity oils. The softer and sweeter the first, the tastier and slightly pungent the last.
There is also a colour variant: the shade of the olive oil can vary from green to yellow depending on the maturity of the production.
The green oil is younger while the yellow one is already ripe and rich in carotenes, pigments that have an antioxidant action. Olive oil easily absorbs odours and is altered by light and heat; for this reason it is advisable to keep it away from detergents or rooms exposed to smoke, at a temperature of around 15°C and at a dark container that protects it from direct light.
Once we talk about olive oil we often refer to the definition"extra virgin": known since ancient times, extra virgin olive oil is the most suitable fat for human consumption because it is the only product solely by squeezing the olives, without chemical additions or industrial interventions.
This kind of production process allows the petroleum to maintain intact all the properties of that it is naturally abundant. Moreover, thanks to its high digestibility rate, higher than that of all seed oils, butter and lard, the use of extra virgin olive oil is recommended during the weaning of newborns.
The benefits of olive oil for our entire body
Olive oil offers many beneficial properties for our health: first of all, it is particularly rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, which prevent the appearance of cardiovascular disorders, and bad in saturated fatty acids, accountable for the occlusion of the arteries. Olive oil contains oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that can regulate blood cholesterol levels: it lowers the percentage of"bad" cholesterol (LDL) compared to"good" cholesterol (HDL).
A constant and controlled consumption of olive oil, and therefore lactic acid, lowers the risk of heart attacks, strokes and thrombosis, leading to the health of the arteries. If you add that olive oil leads to the health of the heart and bone construction , you can easily conclude that it is a valuable ally for sportsmen and sportswomen at all levels.
Basically, olive oil provides energy, something that athletes should never miss. If sedentary folks shouldn't consume more than 15% of the calories provided by fat, for athletes it goes in any case to 20% - 30%.
This is what the author Lori Zanteson says in one of her articles, precisely because it is fats that transform carbohydrates, i.e. the fuel required for sporting activity, into energy. Olive oil also contains polyphenols, antioxidants with incredible properties: they are able to protect the integrity of cell membranes, defending them from the formation of tumours and counteracting the alteration of cognitive functions caused by aging cells.
Olive oil: from health to beauty
Extra virgin olive oil is also a natural source of Vitamin E, universally known as the "beauty vitamin" because it protects oxidisable fats from the formation of free radicals. Being a moderate vasodilator, Vitamin E strengthens the walls of the capillaries and reduces the risk of thrombus; it also regulates the production of male and female sexual hormones and increases the levels of"good" cholesterol (HDL).
To conclude the overview of the properties and benefits of olive oil, it ought to be recalled that this food abounds in squalene, a substance that would be rather effective at countering the onset of skin cancer. In Italy and Greece, in fact, where olive oil is the basis of the daily diet plan and is therefore consumed in large quantities, life expectancy is higher than in northern European countries, where fats of animal origin are inclined to be consumed.
Olive oil can also boast benefits for the skin and hair, just feel that one of its first applications was just the cosmetic.
It offers soothing properties that make it perfect against redness and irritation, even for the most sensitive skin; it is also an effective antioxidant and is therefore an important ally against the effects of skin aging.
Olive oil nourishes the skin in depth and regulates the levels of hydration, which is the reason it is also advocated as a natural remedy against eczema, psoriasis and herpes.
The properties of olive oil do not stop here: ideal for scalp irritation and for the care of dull or damaged hair, it is often suggested as an ingredient in soothing or nourishing masks to be applied to the hair.
Finally, olive oil is recommended as a remedy for fragile nails and stains on the skin of the hands, often due to aging or excessive exposure to sunlight. Ideal when combined with other components, from lavender essential oil to shea butter and Jojoba wax, olive oil is a valuable beauty ally to use at home.