(Almost) All You Need To Know About: Olive Oil
You may know that olive oil has essential vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants that lower cholesterol, facilitate digestion and create a stronger immune system. And when you think of olive oil, you may immediately consider the various typical Mediterranean dishes that use olive oil; yet, you may not know the many other uses of this common household item such as shaving cream, polishing wood furniture, treating yourself to a manicure, controlling hair frizz, freeing a stuck zipper, removing makeup or adding it to a soothing bath.
-Spain has the highest number of olive trees with more than 300 million.
-The average annual olive oil production in Spain is between 600,000 and 1,000,000 metric tons.
-Only 20% of Spain’s olive oil production is actually exported.
-One tablespoon of olive oil contains 120 calories.
-There are 4.7 million acres of olive trees in Spain.
-Spain’s average national consumption is close to 550,000 tons.
FROM THE BEGINNING
Olive oil production dates back to ancient civilizations as early as 5000 BC. From the very beginning, olive oil dripped into the importance of cultures, religious ceremonies and everyday life. Seen as a gift of prosperity and wealth, as well as an offering from the olive branch, a symbol of peace, olive oil’s likeness to gold has added to its allure and value.
Olive oil was a prized possession among Mediterranean colonies. It was awarded to winners of the Panathenian Games in Athens, used to consecrate Roman priests and to differentiate between the rich and poor in ancient civilisations where only the wealthy could use the oil for cooking, cleaning and lighting.
While the history of olive oil is muddled with legends, mysteries, and tales, one thing is clear: olive oil seaped into the way of life all along the Meditarranean basin. According to some legends, the olive tree was a gift from Athena—it offered refuge from the sun, marked champions and annointed warriors and athletes. And according to Hippocrates, the father of medicine, olive oil could heal nearly any ailment.
And this diet is certainly no fad. Olive oil is a staple of the Mediterranean diet, which has spread all over the world with a reputation of lowering the rate of heart disease and elongating the individual life span. Olive oil, along with a healthy diet, is also effective in fighting diseases such as cancer, diabetes, obesity and arthritis.
CHECK THE LABEL
Extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality and most flavourful of the many varieties of olive oil—it has no acidity and is produced without the use of solvents. While extra virgin olive oil is basically fruit juice without additives (and free from any defects), other grades of olive oil including virgin olive oil, olive oil, refined olive oil, or olive-pomace are differentiated by their acidity level, defect value and production process.