The Οlive oil

Olive oil is an oil obtained from the olive, a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin. It is commonly used in cooking, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and soaps and as a fuel for traditional oil lamps. Olive oil is used throughout the world, but especially in the Mediterranean countries (Mediterranean Diet).

Olive oil is produced by grinding olives and extracting the oil by mechanical or chemical means. Green olives usually produce more bitter oil, and overripe olives can produce oil that is rancid, so for good extra virgin olive oil care is taken to make sure the olives are perfectly ripened.

Over 5,000 years ago oil was being extracted from olives in the Eastern Mediterranean. In the centuries that followed, olive presses became common, from the Atlantic shore of North Africa to Persia and from the Po Valley to the settlements along the Nile.

Three countries are the major olive oil producers in the world. First is Spain, second is Italy and third is Greece. Together, they produce more than 75% of the world production.

Extra-virgin olive oil comes from virgin oil production only, contains no more than 0.8% acidity, and is judged to have a superior taste. Extra Virgin olive oil accounts for less than 10% of oil in many producing countries; the percentage is far higher in the Mediterranean countries (Greece: 80%, Italy: 45%, Spain 30%). It is used on salads, added at the table to soups and stews and for dipping.

Overall:

  • · Olive oil contains a wide variety of valuable antioxidants that are not found in other oils.
  • · In addition to the internal health benefits of olive oil, topical application is quite popular with fans of natural health remedies.
  • · Olive oil is unlikely to cause allergic reactions.
  • · Unlike saturated fats, olive oil lowers total cholesterol and LDL levels in the blood.
  • · Extra virgin olive oil is mostly used as a salad dressing and as an ingredient in salad dressings.
  • · Refined olive oils are perfectly suited for deep frying foods.
  • · Olive oil has more uses than as food; it also works as a natural and safe lubricant, such as lubricating the machinery that is used within the kitchen (grinders, blenders, cookware, etc.)
  • · Unsaturated oils, such as olive oil, have a short shelf life and are prone to becoming rancid from oxidation, which will produce toxic by products and a bitter taste. Protection of unsaturated oils from heat and light will delay spoilage.