Sometimes, the secrets to good health have a rich history. One of these special ingredients is olive oil, which dates back as early as 3000 B.C. Olives themselves are native to the Mediterranean Basin and the oil can be traced to the ancient city-state Ebla. In addition to being a revolutionary cooking oil, medicine, and dietary necessity, the oil was also used in traditional lamps. Olive oil was originally made by crushing olives with stones and letting the oil run and collect. Nowadays, there are more sophisticated methods, but the benefits of olive oil remain timeless.
So why has the spotlight been on olive oil for so long? The reason is in its nutritional value. Olive oil is a potent antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties (and when it comes to oil, this is a major plus). In addition, it contains a high concentration of mono-saturated fats, which have the ability to lower the bad cholesterol in the body. Olive oil also contains vitamin E, which is great for skin health. In fact, olive oil is often used in soaps and cosmetics for softer, healthier skin. Lastly, the oil can also improve cognitive function, making it the smartest choice.
If you’re looking to add olive oil into your diet, there are many different ways; the golden rule is to choose a cold-pressed or extra virgin variety, as the less the oil is processed, the more nutrients it retains. It is best used cold as it has a low smoke point meaning that when heated, it changes the properties of the oil. It is great used as a salad dressing by adding grainy mustard, herbs, and balsamic vinegar. Pesto is another fantastic way to incorporate olive into your meals: just crush basil, garlic, olive oil, and pine nuts or almonds into a fine paste. Pesto is delicious on veggies or protein – we use it as a topping for beef, salmon, chicken, and pork! Mixing olive oil with unrefined sugar or Epsom salt makes a simple and effective scrub for dry skin. Clearly, olive oil is a useful oil and a staple in any health-conscious diet.