History of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Olives, thought to have originated in Crete or Syria between five and seven thousand years ago, are one of the world’s oldest foods. Since ancient times, the olive tree has provided food, fuel, timber and medicine for many civilizations. The venerable oil of the olive has been consumed since as early as 3,000 B.C.
It is not clear exactly how olive trees arrived in the United States, but it is clear that they arrived during the 1500s – 1700s. Spanish colonizers of North America brought olive trees across the Atlantic Ocean. While some might have been brought to California directly, some might have come from Mexico, where cultivation by the Spanish was already underway.
Olive oil has been and still is a staple in the diet of many Mediterranean countries. Today, much of the commercial cultivation of olive oil is still centered in the Mediterranean region in countries such as Spain (36% of total production), Italy (35%) and Greece (18%). these countries, along with the remaining European countries, also consume about two-thirds of all olive oil that is produced. Regions of the world quickly increasing consumption and production of olive oil include South America (especially Chile) and Australia.
Health Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
- Olive Oil is a fresh fruit juice – Freshness is directly related to the health benefits of the oil
- How olive oil is harvested and processed is directly related to the health benefits in the end product.
- EVOO is unrefined oil from the first pressing and has the most delicate flavors.
- EVOO contains 75% of its fat as monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acids which have been shown to lower overall blood cholesterol LDL:HDL ratios and reduce blood pressure.
- EVOO has stronger concentrations of phytonutrients which have been shown to lower inflammation markers in blood and have cancer preventing properties.
- EVOO contains high levels of Hydroxytyros which has been shown to protect the cells that line our blood vessels and enhance the cells antioxidant defense system by providing vitamin E and beta carotene.
Myths About Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Myth: Grocery store olive oil only contains olive oil
Fact: 66% of grocery store olive oils are cut with some other seed oil. They are not true EVOO or 100% olive oil. This drastically affects the taste and health benefits of the oil.
Myth: Olive oil has a long shelf life
Fact: Olive oil should be treated like fresh fruit juice. Store in a dark bottle, refrigerator and consume within 1-2 months of purchase. The health benefits of olive oil decrease when exposed to light and oxygen.
Information gathered from whfoods.com
60 Minutes CBS– 60 Minutes News producer Guy Campanile offers an insight on the findings behind real olive oil and the fake stuff. Watch the short clip and read the article used to open the eyes of consumers here