Since time immemorial, olive oil has played a key role in civilizations around the Mediterranean sea. Did you know that the first use goes way back to five thousand years BC?
Consumption of the olives themselves goes back probably some more. The uses were also varied: from the traditional use in food preparation, to cosmetic uses (asa skin lotion, soap and moisturizer) and even religious ones, such as a substance to anoint or cleanse people and to fuel oil lamps and candelabra.
Personally, I love the taste of cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil in salads and other food preparations. This site discusses the different grades and provides information that will help you choose the best quality product.
Regarding medical benefits, there is scientific evidence that suggests that eating two tablespoons per day may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, by helping control LDL (the "bad" cholesterol) while increasing HDL (the "good" cholesterol), as well as by increasing arterial elasticity.
This amazing oil is also considered to lower the probability of gallstone formation, to decrease the incidence of colon cancer, to help control blood pressure, and to be beneficial as a slowing factor for Alzheimer's disease.
In addition to these health benefits, topical application and soaps are used for skin cleansing and moisturizing.
Why is olive oil so good and yet so healthy at the same time?
We're used to having to choose between the two. For example, when we're presented with food that tastes like cardboard but we're told is full of organic, unsweetened fiber. ;-)
Well, olive oil is mostly composed of mono unsaturated
fatty acids. These acids can help lower the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels. They can
also help normalize blood clotting and be beneficial to blood sugar control (re: diabetes). Olive oil is rich as well in antioxidants and in vitamin E, which are believed to play a role in cancer prevention.
So, enjoy olive oil in its many uses, mainly culinary ... and remember that the secret is to add olive oil to other quality ingredients (e.g. tomatoes, feta, arugula, bocconcini, etc) to end up with absolutely delicious and healthy food!