From Dr Benefits
Since I can remember myself, I remember all my family cooking always and only with olive oil, sometimes even in desserts. My grandmother even used it as a facial night cream, supporting its beneficial effects. Being an important ingredient of the culinary tradition, not many Greeks, among other people, really knew its beneficial health effects. It’s high value in nutrition was studied in 1960s when researchers found that people in the Mediterranean basin and especially in Crete, faced lower health risk factors, comparing to other nationalities.
The olive tree has been known in the ancient times in several populations such as Assyrians and Babylonians. In ancient Egypt, it was believed that the olive tree was a gift to the people from the great goddess Isis, while in Greece, the first olive tree was planted in the ancient city of Athens, by Athina, the goddess of wisdom. Since then the olive tree and olive oil have been cultivated widely and are the symbols of peace, fecundity, strength and purification.
Olive oil varietes
Extra-virgin olive oil comes from virgin oil production only, and is of higher quality with no more than 0.8% free acidity. Extra-virgin olive oil accounts for less than 10% of oil in many producing countries; the percentage is far higher in the Mediterranean countries (Greece: 80%, Italy: 65%, Spain 50%).
Virgin olive oil Comes from virgin oil production only, but is of slightly lower quality, with free acidity of up to 1.5%, and is judged to have a good taste, but may include some sensory defects.
Refined olive oil is the olive oil obtained from virgin olive oils by refining methods that do not lead to alterations in the initial glyceridic structure. It has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 0.3% and its other characteristics correspond to those fixed for this category in this standard. Oils labeled as Pure olive oil or Olive oil are primarily refined olive oil, with a small addition of virgin-production to give taste.
Olive pomace oil is refined pomace olive oil often blended with some virgin oil. It is fit for consumption, but may not be described simply as olive oil.
According to the USDA olive oil is rich in monosaturated fat and especially oleic acid, as well as vitamins E and K.
Olive oil consumption is thought to affect cardiovascular health and blood cholesterol levels. Epidemiological studies indicate that a higher proportion of monounsaturated fats in the diet may be linked with a reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease. Apart from olive oil’s fat composition, a cause-and-effect relationship in comparison to similar oils has not yet been established with sufficient scientific evidence. However, to achieve this possible benefit, olive oil is to replace a similar amount of saturated fat and not increase the total number of calories you eat in a day.
While in the scientific cycles it is believed that olive oil consumption is associated with maintaining normal blood LDL-cholesterol concentrations, normal blood concentrations of triglycerides, normal blood HDL-cholesterol concentrations and normal blood glucose concentrations, in a comprehensive scientific review by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in 2011, these cause-and-effect relationships have not been adequately established.