Olive oil is oil that comes from the fruit of olive trees. The olives are picked, washed and then crushed. The resulting paste contains oil and is stirred to release it. Olive oil’s popularity is because it’s very healthy and composed of monounsaturated fatty acids. Monounsaturated fatty acids reduce bad cholesterol and raises good cholesterol.
However not all oil labelled olive oil is the best, quality matters, and the quality of the oil is determined by several factors such as:
- How the olive oil was made
- The type of olives
- How ripe the olives were at the time of harvest
- The storage method of the oil
The best quality and grade is extra virgin olive oil because it has undergone the least processing; it is the closest to its natural state. It contains antioxidants, monounsaturated fatty acids, proteins, omega 6 fatty acids and Vitamin E and K.
Where did olive oil originate from?
While the precise origins of olive oil are unclear, what is known is that the oil has been held sacred by the Mediterranean people for thousands of years. It could have originated from Persia, Jordan, Crete or the Greek islands.
From there it spread throughout the civilisations along the Mediterranean sea. In ancient Greece, the olive tree was held sacred and it was used for their religious rituals.
Beauty uses of olive oil
Olive oil is surprisingly useful at removing makeup. Being oil based, it removes all the stubborn make up. Apply olive oil on a ball of cotton and gently wipe off the make-up from your face. After that, wash your face in warm water. It’s also safe to use as an eye-make-up remover.
Removing excess wax from your ears
If you suffer from excess wax in your ears, simply insert a few drops into your ears, and do this for several days. Olive oil will loosen the hard wax, and flush it out.
Slather olive oil in the area of your body that you want to shave. Continue with your usual way of shaving. Olive oil works very well as a shaving cream, so the next time you run out of shaving cream, don’t panic, just reach for your bottle of olive oil.
If you suffer from excessively dry skin, olive oil may be the answer for you. Because it’s natural it can be used to soothe and provide relief from conditions such as eczema.
If you have a baby who has cradle crap or diaper rash, olive oil is safe enough to use on a baby’s sensitive skin. With cradle crap, it loosens that thick crust and eventually it falls off.
Put moisture back in your hair by conditioning it with olive oil. Warm about half a cup of olive oil and apply it to your hair. Cover your hair and leave the olive oil for fifteen minutes or so. Rinse it off with warm water and shampoo.
Olive oil prevents skin from sagging, wrinkles and helps the skin to maintain its glow and elasticity. Because of this it’s wonderful to use as a body lotion. You can use olive oil safely all over your body.
Soak your nails in warm olive oil for about ten minutes. Repeat this twice or thrice weekly and you’ll notice that your nails no longer chip and they have a healthy glow.
Olive oil softens the area around your eyes while nourishing the skin. Before you go to bed, dab some olive oil on a cotton pad and gently rub it around your eyes. Incorporate this into your weekly beauty treatment and you’ll notice a difference to your skin around your eyes.
Make your own home made face mask using egg yolk and a tablespoon of olive oil. Clean your face and then apply this mixture. Leave it on for ten to fifteen minutes then rinse it off with warm water. It’s good for all skin types.
Culinary uses of olive oil
Olive oil sprinkled on salads helps bring out the flavours of the different foods used in the salad.
Unlike other oils, olive oil is able to withstand high temperatures and thus is good for frying food with. Unlike other types of oil, it does not break down under high temperatures to form other harmful compounds. It forms a protective layer around the food, while maintaining the moisture inside.
Olive oil is a healthy alternative to butter. It adds a delicious taste to baked products such as bread, cakes, pastries and muffins.
Add olive oil to the herbs and spices you use to marinate. Olive oil will intensify the flavours and allow them to mix well.
Rub olive oil to your fish, meat or chicken. It will bring out the taste of every type of meat.
Health benefits of olive oil
Olive oil lowers bad cholesterol (LDL), and raises good cholesterol (HDL), thereby decreasing your risks for heart disease. In Mediterranean countries where olive oil is commonly used to fry food, the heart disease cases are not as prevalent as other countries where olive oil is not commonly used.
Using a small amount of olive oil daily can lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Reduction of breast cancer risk
Studies have shown that olive oil encourages tumour cell destruction and prevents DNA damage.
A compound found in olive oil has been shown to remove abnormal Alzheimer’s disease proteins from the brain, thereby reducing the risk of contracting the disease. Again, people from the Mediterranean region who regularly consume olive oil have fewer incidences of people getting Alzheimer’s disease.
Protects the liver
Olive oil protects the liver from cell damage which is caused by the reactions between free radical in the body and other molecules.