Olive oil is the protagonist of the Mediterranean diet and since ancient times our ancestors had realized its value. In fact, Homer had described olive oil as "liquid gold", while Hippocrates had recognized its healing properties. The olives, from which the olive oil comes, have been cultivated since ancient times in the Mediterranean, with Greece being consistently one of the countries with the largest production of olive oil.
The history of olive oil
The olive is believed to have first appeared in the third millennium BC. in the Middle East and then spread to the Aegean islands and central Greece. However, research conducted on the islands of Santorini and Nisyros, proved its existence in Greece thousands of years ago. According to Greek tradition, the first olive tree was planted on the Acropolis. It is said that it was a gift of the goddess Athena to the inhabitants of the city of Athens, when she quarreled with the god Poseidon, over the name of the city of Athens. They, as a sign of gratitude, gave their city its name and she taught them how to grow olives. The Athenians on their coins depicted Athena with an olive wreath on her helmet and an amphora with oil or an olive branch.
In Ancient Greece the olive tree held an important place not only in nutrition but also in the economy. It was considered a sacred symbol of life, wisdom and prosperity. The uses of the olive were varied as it was an integral part in the life of the citizens as:
- key ingredient of their diet
- prize in sports competitions
- treatment (olive oil has 60 different uses in the Hippocratic Code of Medicine)
- cosmetic and perfume
- heating and lighting
The benefits of olive oil in our nutrition.
1. It has a high content of monounsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats are the so-called "good fats" and protect against diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
2. Contains antioxidants. The antioxidants found in olive oil are biologically active and reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases.
3. Protects against heart disease. Extra virgin olive oil contributes to heart health by lowering blood pressure and improving the function of blood vessels.
4. It has anti-inflammatory properties. Olive oil contains nutrients, such as oleic acid and bleach, that fight inflammation.
5. Fights depression. More and more studies are claiming that diet can help in the treatment and prevention of diseases related to the brain. The Mediterranean diet and in particular olive oil has been linked to a reduction in depression.
6. Moisturizes the skin and hair. Olive oil has emollient and moisturizing properties, which is why it is a key ingredient in many care products.