Olive Oil in History
Ever since the remotest antiquity, olives and the oil derived from them have been used and appreciated not only for their alimentary qualities but also for their therapeutic and often thanmaturgic and magic value, The olive tree, which according to mythology was donated to men by the goddess Athena, became a symbol of longevity, and its interwoven branches formed the wreaths of victors in sports contests as in battles.
Today too, for us olive branches are a symbol of peace and appreciation of olive oil has come across the millennia.
The Mediterranean Diet
Olive oil and health go hand in hand, The ample research that has been made highlights the benefits of the Mediterranean diet , where olive oil is a basic component . Not only has it been underlined for being a rich element in a style of cooking and eating, but also because of the qualities of the oil itself which are beneficial to the body and which are significant in overcoming illnesses.
Among the oils with the nicest taste we have olive oil, which also has a balanced composition and is the most suitable one for the human consumption.
Dietary and nutritive aspects of olive oil
Because of its affinity with the human body, olive oil is the most suitable for us. It has excellent nutritive value and is lighter than the rest of oils . Extra virgin olive oil contains Vitamin E , and is therefore particularly recommended in childhood and for senior citizens because of its antioxidant qualities on the cell membrane , it is also rich in Beta – Carotenes and other antioxidants . In spite of being a fat, experience and researches have shown that the population that consumes olive oil on a daily basis lead a healthy life and do not in general have a problem of excess weight, Moreover, virgin olive oil has extra Vitamin A and therefore provides good protection for the sight.
In October 2004 world scientists drew up the first joint international document on the beneficial effects of olive oil. This document , the Declaration of Jaen , states the eight points of agreement reached in the International Congress on Olive Oil and Health. Participants included the most important national and international experts in Oncology, Cardiovascular Pathology , Nutrition and Aging , and established the bases for scientific knowledge on the subject of the health benefits of this vegetable fat , which is the basic component of what is known as "the Mediterranean diet"
As well as being a protective product, olive oil regulates the balance in our health. Different scientific investigations confirm the fact that virgin olive oil has beneficial effects on our organism for the following reasons:
- • It lowers cholesterol levels.
- • Reduces the risk of a heart attack.
- • Stimulates the secretion of bile and is well absorbed by the intestines.
- • Reduces the probability of arterial thrombosis.
- • Lessens gastric acid and regulates intestinal movement.
- • Helps to improve our metabolic functions.
- • Provides efficient protective action against ulcers and gastritis.
- • Stimulates bone growth, helps Calcium and Mineral absorption and favors excellent mineralization of the bones.
- • Virgin oil contributes to healthier aging.
- • It has likewise been proved that regular consumption inhibits the appearance of certain types of Cancer. Research has shown that there is a lower incidence of Cancer in Spain, Greece, Malta and Italy than in the Northern European countries.
It helps against cardiovascular diseases which are the top cause of death in the industrial world. The antioxidant properties of olive oil help protect against free radicals, which causes cell death, as well as ageing according to Phenol content ratio.
It Helps against :
- • Cancer, especially breast, prostate, bowel and colon.
- • Chronic liver disease and disorder of the intestines.
- • Blood Pressure Diabetes
- • Obesity, as it tastes better, and a stimulus to eat vegetables.
- • Olive Oil bolsters "The Immune System"
- • Against external attacks from microorganisms, bacteria or viruses
Olive Oil and the digestive system
• It reduces a risk of the flow or reflux of food and gastric juice up from the stomach to the esophagus.
Olive Oil during pregnancy and childhood
• It enhances height, weight, behavior and psychomotor reflexes
• In breast feeding, it increases the level of vitamins. It affects growth and bone mineralization and development during infancy.
Olive Oil delays ageing
Olive Oil helps against ageing–related diseases like, reduction in bone tissue mass that increases the risk of fractures.
Cognitive function: Olive Oil prevents memory loss and cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s diseases as the monounsaturated acids help to maintain the structure of the brain cell membranes.
Olive oil and skin
Since sun rays speed up aging of skin by generating free Radicals , Olive Oil is used as an inhibitor / Screen or anti-sun rays, as it contains vitamins A,D and K as well as E for protection against continuous cell oxidation .
Extra virgin olive oil is a prime quality oil extracted from the fruit of the best olives of Egypt by simply applying pressure, after which it is filtered.
Amongst its numerous beneficial properties for health, one of its most important benefits is that it helps prevent diseases of the circulatory system, it is not in vain that we can claim that, Olive oil is the heart's best friend.
Recommended for children and adults alike, it is much easier to digest than other oils and fats, it favors the proper growth of bones and the healthy development of the nervous system , is good for the stomach, the intestine and the biliary tract and in addition contains vitamins A,D,K and the rejuvenating vitamin E .
Rich in monounsaturated fats, Olive Oil does not contain any cholesterol, and in addition helps regulate cholesterol level and keep the body healthy.
Olive oil in cosmetics (for hair & skin) :
For thousands of years, olive oil has been used to smooth into any part of the body prior to massage, since it relaxes the muscles and nerves. More than 5,000 years ago the Egyptians extracted oil by natural mechanical means and used it for cosmetic purposes, as well as for maintaining the mummies, while the leaves were used for adorning their Pharaohs.
There are now wide ranges of cosmetics which use olive oil as a basic ingredient, gels, shampoos, cosmetic oils, soap, colognes and perfumes are all elaborated with this natural raw material, which provides important dermatological and therapeutic properties. This natural raw material strengthens, nourishes and gives shine to hair, In addition, the antioxidant effect of the olive oil avoids hair falling out, and sooths scrap problems, such as dandruff, eczemas and minor allergies .Olive oil cosmetics are absorbed by the skin which they hydrate and nourish. It helps to prevent skin aging while it also smooth other skin problems.
Domestic uses of Olive Oil:
In daily life, olive oil is currently employed for countless purposes:
- • Conservation of trappings and harnesses
- • Cleaning firearms
- • Protecting metal files
- • Fuel for lamps and oil–lamps
- • As a degreaser and water – softener
- • For conservation of brass
- • In first aid for skin burns
- • For removing stains (tar and chewing gum)
- • For making sculptures and olive wood furniture
- • For firewood, producing high calories
- • Olive Oil is used by gunsmith, watchmaker, locksmith and quack doctor.
It is ideal for frying and it is the most suitable lightest tastiest oil , whether a fried food is heavy or not , depends largely on the kind of oil used , how the food is fried and at what temperature.
The monounsaturated fatty acids in olive oil make it more resistant to heat olive oil smoking point is 210º C, well above the ideal frying temp , 180º C also it forms a crust on the outside of food that stop oil from penetrating it. No relation was found between olive oil and gastro-duodenal disorders (gastritis, liver and bile).
Frying is one of the few characteristics common to the entire Mediterranean area, be it European, Asian or African, and to the three religions practiced, Christian, Muslim and Jewish. It is one of the oldest methods in existence of cooking food.
Recent investigations have shown that frying is beneficial to the organism, particularly from the physiological point of view. Because of this, it has extended to areas where formerly it was not as popular. Whether the food fried is digested easily or lies heavily on the stomach depends to a great extent on the type of oil used, the temperature of the oil and the manner in which the food was fried. Studies undertaken on healthy subjects and patients with gastro duodenal problems (gastritis, ulcer, liver and biliary complaints) have shown that there is no relationship between food fried in olive oil and these illnesses.
The alteration undergone by vegetable oils when heated for frying is quicker and more fatty acids (seed oils), and the higher the initial acidity of the oil (it is more stable if it has a high content of natural antioxidants - vitamin E). This alteration also varies according to temperature and length of time heated, number of times used, manner of frying (in continuous frying it changes less), and the type of food being fried (frying fish, especially oily fish), increases the polyunsaturated acid content of the oil, facilitating its decomposition.
Olive oil is ideal for frying. In proper temperature conditions, without over-heating, it undergoes no substantial structural change and keeps its nutritional value better than other oils, not only because of the antioxidants but also due to its high levels of oleic acid. Its high smoking point (210ºC) is substantially higher than the ideal temperature for frying food (180ºC). Those fats with lower critical points, such as corn and butter, break down at this temperature and form toxic products.
Another advantage of using olive oil for frying is that it forms a crust on the surface of the food that impedes the penetration of oil and improves its flavor. Food fried in olive oil has a lower fat content than food fried in other oils, making olive oil more suitable for weight control. Olive oil, therefore, is the most suitable, the lightest and the tastiest medium for frying.
It goes further than other oils, and not only can it be re-used more often than others, it also increases in volume when reheated, so less is required for cooking and frying .The digestibility of heated olive oil does not change even when re-used for frying several times .Olive oil should not be mixed with other fats or vegetable oils and should not generally be used more than four or five times.
The oil used for frying should always be hot; if it is cold the food will soak up the oil .There should always be plenty of oil in the pan when deep frying. If only a small amount is used, not only will it burn more easily but the food being fried will be undercooked on top and overcooked on the bottom.
When heated, olive oil is the most stable fat, which means it stands up well to high frying temperatures. Its high smoking point (210º C) is well above the ideal temperature for frying food (180º C). The digestibility of olive oil is not affected when it is heated, even when it is re-used several times for frying.
Temperature Type of Food
Medium (130–145º C) High water content: vegetables, potatoes, fruit …
Hot (155– 170º C) Coated in batter, flour or breadcrumbs, forming a crust
Very hot (175–190º C) Small, quickly fried: small fish, croquettes
Unaltered by heating
The critical point of Olive Oil is 210ºC, this temperature is much higher than that considered ideal for frying food, which is 180ºC. It is without a doubt the best Oil for frying quickly at high temperatures, the best way to obtain the best flavor from foods without losing their properties and nutrients.
Unaltered at low temperatures
At temperature below 7ºC olive oil solidifies, This is a completely natural phenomenon which does not alter its qualities and characteristics: when placed in a warmer environment, it will return to its usual liquid state and recover its special taste, aroma and color.
Olive oil is the product of transformation obtained from the olive fruit (Olea europaea). Its origins date back over 6000 years ago, when the cultivation of this plant began to spread throughout the Mediterranean: numerous and beneficial therapeutic, nutritional and cosmetic properties were attributed to the olive oil. Still today, the creation and consumption of olive oil are concentrated in the Mediterranean countries, but the export volumes to other countries are continuously growing in the last years (especially for extra virgin olive oil).The extra virgin olive oil is a very important element of the Mediterranean diet, as it makes a large uptake of substances such as polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants, which play an important nutraceutical role (nutritional + pharmaceutical) in the organism. Depending on olive processing and qualitative characteristics of the finished product, olive oil is classified into different product classes established by EC Regulation 61/2011.
Product classes of olive oils
|Mechanical extraction - (virgin oils)||Chemical and physical extraction - (refined oils)|
|Extra virgin olive oil||Refined olive oil|
|Virgin olive oil||Olive oil (mix of virgin + refined oils)|
|Lampante olive oil||Crude olive-residue oil - Pomace Oil|
|Refined olive-residue oil Pomace Oil|
|Olive residue oil Pomace Oil|
The EU Regulation 61/2011 the analytical parameters and threshold values for individual product classes are listed (Table 1), together with the scores to be obtained in the organoleptic evaluation carried out by means of panel test (for virgin oils). The physiochemical parameters established by the Regulation are as follows:
1. Free acidity:It is an indirect measure, carried out by a simple acid-base titration of free fatty acid content in oil. It is expressed as a percentage of oleic acid and since these molecules are produced by triglycerides hydrolysis, their content increases if oil and/or olives preservation was not appropriately managed.
2. Peroxide number:It is a measure of the oxidative state of the oil, performed by titration with iodine and thiosulphate and expressed as mg of O2 absorbed by oil. The oxidation involves the formation of peroxides, which affect the stability of the product promoting hydrolytic rancidity. High values of this parameter are indicative of an improper olive manipulation or preservation management.
3. K (UV-Vis):It measures the oil absorption in the UV to highlight the addition of refined oils, since during the refining process double bonds present in the polyunsaturated fatty acids change their position and form triens and diens conjugates (resulting in an increasing in the A270 and the A232 nm respectively); the K value is rather a relative measure of the absorbance peak at 270 against the entire UV spectrum. High values of these three parameters are indicative of an addition of refined oil to virgin or extra virgin oils.
4. Acid composition (Fatty Acid Methyl Esters, FAME):Through GC-FID technique is possible to determine the relative abundance of fatty acids in oil after triglyceride hydrolysis and subsequent saponification in basic medium (to obtain the corresponding methyl esters). The presence of fatty acids normally absent in the olive (e.g. behenic acid, arachidic acid, etc…) is indicative of adulteration of the product with oils obtained from different seeds.
5. Total Sterols, Erythrodiol and Uvaol:It recovers the unsaponifiable fraction and separates the sterol fraction by preparative chromatography. It should then be performed a silanization reaction to analyze the sterolic composition by means of GC-FID. The sterol profile is species-specific, so adulterations of the product with other oils are easily detectable. The erythrodiol and uvaol content is higher in olive-residue oils due to the chemical extraction by solvent and a high content of these two compounds is indicative of adulteration caused by pomace oils or oils from different species.