The Olive tree is the symbol of peace and victory and the symbol of the Greek Goddess of wisdom, Athena. Olive Oil has been used since antiquity and traded throughout time. Olive trees were native to Asia Minor and spread to the rest of the Mediterranean from 6000 BC. Olive Leaves were first used in Ancient Egypt for healing purposes. Today, it is revered for its health benefits and the main ingredient in the Mediterranean diet of which has proven an array of benefits to improve cardiovascular and overall health.
According to studies published by the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that consuming more than four tablespoons a day of extra virgin olive oil can significantly lower your risk of having a heart attack, suffering from a stroke or dying of heart disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, Olive oil is high in a type of fat known as monounsaturated fat, and can help lower your cholesterol and also control insulin levels in the body.
Recently, scientists also discovered the benefits Oleuropein, a polyphenol that is found in olive leaf extract that has been found to cause anti-inflammatory, antioxidant effects, help lower bad cholesterol and blood pressure, improve age related diseases, have an anti-cancerous effects due to its antioxidant effect and has been proven to help prevent the formation of arterial plaques thus reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke (1).
Oleuropein is produced in the olive tree and found in abundance in the olive leaves and olive. Olive Oil is also said to be more effective when ingested raw instead of cooked, however according to olivesource.com (2), one common myth is that heating olive oil will make it saturated or trans-fatty, this is simply a myth. According to Dr. A. Kiritsakis, a world renowned oil chemist in Athens, in his book Olive Oil from the Tree to the Table -Second edition 1998, all oils will oxidize and hydrogenate to a tiny degree if repeatedly heated to very high temperatures such as is done in commercial frying operations. Olive-Pomace Oils and Virgin Olive Oils are both highly monounsaturated oils and therefore resistant to oxidation and hydrogenation. Studies have shown oxidation and hydrogenation occurs to a lesser degree in olive oil than in other oils (2).
Nature always provides for what our body needs to stay healthy. There are many wonderful recipes with olive leaves and olives are a great complement to any dish. Olive oil has been proven to be healthy throughout the ages and should be an important part of our diet, and as with all things, in moderation.
1. Omar SH. Oleuroprein in olive and its pharmacological effects. Sci Pharm, 2010,78(2):133.54l
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