Sunshine, endless olive groves, healing salt water, and relaxation are the words that sum up this lifestyle. The way of life in this region encompasses a back-to-the-basics approach with ease and charm. When was the last time you picked oranges directly off the tree and juiced them for breakfast or harvested an olive tree? Many people in this region still walk to the grocery store, gather their own firewood, grow their own kale, and collect eggs from their own organic chickens. These people are the original pioneers who inspired the Farm To Table movement, without even realizing it.
Several places along the Mediterranean are part of the extensively researched areas known as the Blue Zones. What do these locations have in common? a longer life expectancy, a healthy diet rich in phytonutrients and olives, along with an active and stress-free lifestyle. What's another thing that they do differently in the Mediterranean? They eat olive oil and a lot of it!
Did you know that the average Greek person consumes 20 liters of olive oil in one year compared to just one liter for the average American (~source).
NUTRIENT ABSORPTION: A new study from Purdue University showed that olive oil might be the best choice of salad dressing when it comes to absorbing nutrients from the vegetables. It appears that monosaturated fats provide the most efficient absorption of carotenoids, pigments with antioxidant activity present in vegetables and fruit.
HEART HEALTHY: Olive oil consumption has been extensively studied for its beneficial effects on coronary heart disease, its ability to reduce blood pressure, and decrease LDL cholesterol.
THE COMPONENTS: Oleic acid, phenolic constituents, and squalene. The phenolic compounds that are found in extra-virgin olive oil are powerful antioxidants along with other beneficial biological activities that could contribute to it's healthy effects.
GLOWING SKIN: Olive oil is a simple and budget-friendly way to get gorgeous skin. It doesn't clog pores and contains potent antioxidants including vitamin E, polyphenols, and phytosterols. Another constituent called hydroxytyrosol has also been shown to prevent free radical damage, providing many anti-aging benefits.
BONE BUILDING: A recent clinical trial using olive oil showed promising results as a potential benefit to treat postmenopausal osteoporosis. The results revealed that olive oil could be beneficial to positively affect the thickness of bones.
Making olive oil is both an art and a science. Besides sourcing the best organic, non-GMO olives, there's many other standards that must be taken into account.
THE TYPE: Extra Virgin is Best. The term "extra virgin" is the top grade of olive oil according to the standards established by the International Olive Oil Council and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This is made using a process called "first cold pressed" meaning the olives are pressed on the first round of extraction, "cold" meaning that the olives will not exceed a temperature higher than 81.9 degrees Fahrenheit, and pressed as the way of extraction. This is the much preferred way of production because the olives will retain all of the nutritional value because this method does not use heat or chemicals.
THE CONDITIONS: There are many variables that can affect the quality of an oil including exposure to elevated temperatures, light, and storage.
THE TESTS: A good olive oil company will maintain a high quality of production and will follow rigorous standards to maintain it. Did you know that a study conducted in 2010 by the UC David Olive Center found that 69% of imported olive oil labeled as "extra virgin" failed to meet the international standard for extra virgin olive oil! (~source)
THE BEST OF THE BEST: pharmaceutical grade olive oil is held to a much higher standard of quality and composition. Each batch produced is tested on many variables from fatty acid composition, chemical analysis, non-GMO and organic certified, chemical profiles, along with many others and is produced in a pharmaceutical level facility which adheres to a stringent requirements for production.
My personal go-to olive oil nutraceutical company is called Oleomed. Their formulations are well-researched, their quality standards are tough, the products are standardized, and it's manufactured to be pharmaceutical grade.
There are very few supplement companies that meet my standards but, I must say I was very impressed with Oleomed's products and recently joined their Advisory Board.
"Antioxidant and Other Biological Activities of Phenols from Olives and Olive Oil." Medicinal Research Reviews. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 03 Jan. 2017.
"Active Components and Clinical Applications of Olive Oil." Alternative Medicine Review : A Journal of Clinical Therapeutic. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 03 Jan. 2017.
"Virgin Olive Oil as a Fundamental Nutritional Component and Skin Protector." Clinics in Dermatology. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 03 Jan. 2017.
"Hydroxytyrosol, a Natural Antioxidant from Olive Oil, Prevents Protein Damage Induced by Long-wave Ultraviolet Radiation in Melanoma Cells." Free Radical Biology & Medicine.U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 03 Jan. 2017.
Saleh, Nermine K., and Hanan A. Saleh. "Olive Oil Effectively Mitigates Ovariectomy-induced Osteoporosis in Rats." BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. BioMed Central, 2011. Web. 03 Jan. 2017.