Olive Oil: The Flavours of Life
The history of olive oil is an epic. Since the times of the first alphabet, myriad civilizations have had olive oil at the heart of their economic and religious practices. Like its patron societies, the olive tree can resurrect itself from its own charred roots, embodying the unconquerable spirit of the people who have passed on this timeless legacy. Olive oil production has been developed and refined continuously by this ancient human lineage, culminating in the modern methods we use today to produce, consume, and study this ancient treasure.
The Olive Tree: A Beauty of Nature
The olive tree, or olea europaea, has been present on the shores of the Mediterranean for at least half a million years. Like other members of the oleaceae family, such as lilacs and jasmines, the olive tree blossoms beautiful flowers. The tree dances and shimmers in the wind, as the darker green tops of the canoe-shaped leaves oscillate with the silvery bottoms to produce a breathtaking display of natural beauty. But at a cost. The furtive gusts carry away the delicate olive flowers, depriving the tree of olives in waiting.
The Olive: A Wonder of Science
Modern science is affirming the great value that ancient scholars ascribed to olive oil and its revered properties. Olive oil contains polyphenols and monounsaturated fats, which are essential to the many health benefits of consuming moderate amounts of high quality extra virgin olive oil. These include improved cardiovascular health, cancer prevention, increased longevity, and reduced oxidative stress in your brain and central nervous system.
The Oil: A Treasure to Savour
High quality olive oil has a strong peppery taste, because this taste is produced by polyphenols. “Smooth” or “soft” tasting olive oils commonly found in supermarkets do not have this property essential to the health benefits of olive oil. Although the peppery taste may be initially overpowering for the North American palate, it soon becomes a full-bodied collection of distinct and pleasurable sensations that coalesce to make each variety of high quality extra virgin oil unique.
Olive oil is produced by the mother tree to support its olive seeds once they fall. A product of photosynthesis, this highly efficient source of energy begins to be broken down by enzymes in order to produce an environment conducive to the seeds’ growth. This is why the oil needs to be extracted from the olive as soon as possible after harvest.
What about Supermarket Oils?
Many olive oils found in the supermarket that claim “extra virgin” status are not really extra virgin. Tom Mueller wrote an excellent book on the rampant corruption in the global, multibillion dollar olive oil industry. Olive oil is frequently cut with other, cheaper additives or refined. Bad quality, or lampante, olive oil is naturally poor tasting and deemed unfit for human consumption. However, through refinement processes, companies break down the poor tasting compounds to produce the tasteless, “light” oil that most Canadians are familiar with. This process of refinement makes lampante olive oil consumable, but it deprives the already poor quality oil of most of its health properties. One common method, known as deodorization, refines lampante olive oil by heating it, which does not leave chemical traces and thereby enables the oil to pass as extra virgin. Lampante oil and the deodorization procedures are both cheap, which is why companies are able to sell this oil for such low prices.
Check out Tom’s book here: https://www.amazon.ca/Extra-Virginity-Sublime-Scandalous-World/dp/0393343618
Check out Tom’s website here: http://www.truthinoliveoil.com/
20 Millilitres per Day
High quality extra virgin olive oil (HQ EVOO) is rich in polyphenols and healthy fats that will provide an excellent boost in the morning! By simply adding a little over a tablespoon of olive oil to your morning routine, you can improve your health and energize your day.
It’s the little things that make life better.
EFSA recommends 20 ml of HQ EVOO per day
In 2011, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) declared there exists a “cause and effect”  relationship between the consumption of high polyphenol olive oil and positive health outcomes. If the olive oil is of sufficient quality (>200 mg/kg of polyphenols), then consumers can acquire the health promoting effects of its polyphenols on low-density lipids without excessive consumption of fats. The EFSA recommends that consumers should have approximately 20 grams of HQ EVOO per day, which is just over 20 ml.
The EUROLIVE Study
The EUROLIVE study included 200 people from 5 different European countries . The experiment found that consuming 25 ml of HQ EVOO olive oil per day reduced measures of oxidative stress and known risk factors for heart disease. Participants who consumed the olive oil with the highest polyphenol levels showed the best results. These findings are consistent with many other studies conducted with cells, in animals, and in humans .
Health Benefits of Olive Oil
High quality extra virgin olive oil (HQ EVOO) has a number of protective health qualities. Many of these health properties derive from its monounsaturated lipids and polyphenolic constituents, which have been shown to protect the body from the terrible health consequences of oxidative stress.
To gain the well-documented benefits of olive oil consumption, you must be 1) consuming extra virgin olive oil of sufficient quality, and 2) replacing some sources of fat in your diet with olive oil, not simply adding it. This should be kept in mind as you peruse these wonderful benefits.
Many compounds in HQ EVOO interfere with processes that are linked to the development of cancer, such as the accumulation of mutations caused by oxidative damage to DNA . A wide range of research has shown that olive oil phenols and oleic acid are able to inhibit the development of cancers, including supporting evidence from epidemiological studies, animal models, and in vitro studies . Additional compounds deemed to be anticancer agents, such as squalene and terpenoids, have also been shown to be present in substantial amounts in olives and olive oil .
A long tradition of research exists on the positive relationship between olive oil consumption and cardiovascular health . One well-researched means by which olive oil improves cardiovascular health is by protecting of low density lipoproteins (or “bad cholesterol”) from oxidation, which is associated with abnormal fat buildup in the arteries . Two compounds in olive oil have been found to contribute to this beneficial effect: polyphenols  and monounsaturated fatty acids . Additional mechanisms of influence include, reduced inflammation and reduced blood pressure. For an academic review of this information, see Covas  or Hohmann and colleagues .
Olive oil polyphenols have been found to have general gastrointestinal benefits, including antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and chemopreventative effects on gastric or intestinal cells . Some scholars have even suggested that “nutritionists should actually recommend consumption of VOO [virgin olive oil] rich in phenol compounds for their beneficial activities along the upper GI [grastointestinal] tract” . For a review of the research on olive oil phenols’ influences on the gastrointestinal system, see Corona and colleagues .
Longevity and Aging
Several lines of research point to HQ EVOO as a contributor to longevity. The polyphenols and monounsaturated fatty acids in olive oil appear to be essential to these beneficial effects . These compounds have been shown to protect against oxidative stress , which plays a role in the process of aging .
Pathogenic Bacteria, Viruses, and Parasites
In studies on humans and animals, olive oil phenols have been generally shown to exhibit antimicrobial activity, which kills or inhibits the growth of microorganisms . This has been demonstrated in foodborne pathogens , staphylococcus , helicobacter pylori , salmonella typhi and haemophilus influenzae , as well as others .
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