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Facts about olive oil

10 Facts About Olive Oil

Olive oil is a fabulous ingredient with many uses, from medicinal purposes such as preventing heart disease and cancer to beauty benefits such as providing anti-aging properties, amongst the most popular form which is using in cooking and baking.

1. History

The olive tree is a crop native to Asia Minor that spread to Iran, Syria, Palestine and the rest of the Mediterranean basin around 6,000 years ago. It is among the oldest cultivated trees in the world and began growing long before the written language existed.

2. Family

The olive family, also known as the Oleaceae family, comprises of 600 species and which are situated on all continents.

3. The Olive Tree

There are many variations of olive trees which have many similarities and equally a lot of differences. Growing characteristic and appearance vary, as well as the size, taste and quality olives that they produce.

4. Harvesting

One of the most debated questions among growers is when to harvest. Harvesting can be done in many different ways, from hand-picking to completely mechanized harvesting.

5. Maturity Stages

Immature olives are green and quit firm – they produce oil that is bitter and grassy. These oils are high in anti-oxidants. When the olive fruit matures, it turns yellowish and starts to soften and then the skin turns re-purple in colour (veraison). The olives are often considers to be at their peal for olive oil production. A the fruit completely matures, the skin turns from purple to black – oils produced from these olives usually have a shorter life span and are often described as sweet oils.

6. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil is the highest grade olive oil. It is made without the use of chemicals or excessive heat. High quality oil is ideal as a condiment — whether it’s drizzled over meat, fish vegetables and as a dipping sauce for bread.

7. Flavours

Flavours of olive oil depend on range of factors including the type of olive, ripeness at harvest, growing conditions, crop maintenance and the handling of the olives. When tasting olive oil, much of the oils characteristics are perceived through the sense of smell. A trained taster can identify negative elements within the oil which can be a result of improper handling, poor storage, and wet and weather conditions.

8. Beauty Benefits

The polyphenols found in olive oil have also been found to slow the process of aging and help prevent degenerative diseases. When used on the hair or scalp, olive oil can be used as a deep conditioner and a dandruff controller.

9. Health Benefits

Studies have shown that olive oil offers protection against heart disease by controlling LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, while raising HDL (good) levels. No other naturally produced oil has a large amount of monounsaturated as olive oil. Olive oil has also the ability to reduce the effect of an oncogene- a gene that will turn a host cell into a cancer cell.

10. Storage

Olive oil should be stored in a cool, dark place and not in the refrigerator as it will become cloudy and will eventually solidify.  If it’s properly stored it can keep for at least two years, however, it has it is most flavourful in the first two months

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