About Olive Oil
The Olive (Olea europaea) is a species of small tree in the family Oleaceae, native to coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean region, from Syria and the maritime parts of Asia Minor and northern Iran at the south end of the Caspian Sea. Its fruit, the olive, is of major agricultural importance in the Mediterranean region as the source of olive oil.
The Olive is an evergreen tree or shrub native to the Mediterranean, Asia and parts of Africa. It is short and squat, and rarely exceeds 8–15 meters in height.
The silvery green leaves are oblong in shape, measuring 4–10 cm long and 1–3 cm wide. The trunk is typically gnarled and twisted.
The small white flowers, with four-cleft calyx and corolla, two stamens and bifid stigma, are borne generally on the last year's wood, in racemes springing from the axils of the leaves.
The fruit is a small drupe 1–2.5 cm long, thinner-fleshed and smaller in wild plants than in orchard cultivars. Olives are harvested at the green stage or left to ripen to a rich purple color (black olive). Canned black olives may contain chemicals that turn them black artificially.
The olive is one of the plants most cited in recorded literature. In Homer's Odyssey, Odysseus crawls beneath two shoots of olive that grow from a single stock. The Roman poet, Horace mentions it in reference to his own diet, which he describes as very simple: "As for me, olives, endives, and smooth mallows provide sustenance." Lord Monboddo comments on the olive in 1779 as one of the foods preferred by the ancients and as one of the most perfect foods.
The leafy branches of the olive tree, as a symbol of abundance, glory and peace, were used to crown the victors of friendly games and bloody war. As emblems of benediction and purification, they were also ritually offered to deities and powerful figures: some were even found in Tutankhamen's tomb.
The Importance of Olive Oil in Human Health and Nutrition
With its unique color, smell, taste and aroma, olive oil is very important for human nutrition because it is a source of basic fatty acids that are necessary for the body but are not synthesized, and vitamin E which only dissolves in oil, and has a high calorie value (16 ml of olive oil includes 120 calories), besides all these, it is the only oil that can be consumed naturally like fruit juice.
Olive oil serves very important functions mainly in cardiovascular diseases, on the digestion system, bone structure, cerebral and nerve tissues.
It acts against the factors that cluster blood cells, and therefore reduces the risk of clotting in blood vessels.
When consumed hot or cold, olive oil reduces the acidity of the stomach, and serves as a protection against gastritis and duodenal ulcers.
Olive oil reduces the risk of gall stone formation and helps to dissolve the stones by facilitating gall secretion, organizing gall composition and emptying the gall bladder.
It is the oil best-absorbed by the intestines and has an intestine flow regulatory feature.
Among all oils, olive oil has the most balanced chemical position and therefore improves bone mineralization and helps normal bone development.
Olive oil includes approximately 80% oleic acid, which is the most important fatty acid in the human body, and has a primary function in developing a baby’s nerve tissues right after birth.
Also, newborn babies need a 1/6 ratio of linoleic-linolenic acid and olive oil includes the optimum amount of this acid, which makes it the most appropriate oil for the nutrition of pregnant women and nursing mothers.
Olive oil also prevents the aging of tissues and reduces the wearing effects of aging on brain tissues.
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