Olive oil is a fat obtained from the olive (the fruit of Olea europaea; family Oleaceae), a traditional tree crop of theMediterranean Basin. The oil is produced by pressing whole olives. It is commonly used in cooking, whether for frying or as a salad dressing. It is also used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and soaps, and as a fuel for traditional oil lamps, and finds uses in some religions. It is associated with the Mediterranean diet popularized since the 1950s in North America for its possible health benefits. The olive is one of the three core food plants in Mediterranean cuisine, the other two being wheat and the grape.
Olive trees have been grown around the Mediterranean since the 8th millennium BC. Spain is by far the largest producer of olive oil, followed by Turkey, Italy and Greece. Per capita consumption is however highest in Greece, followed by Spain, Italy, and Turkey. Consumption in North America and northern Europe is far less, but rising steadily.
The composition of olive oil varies with the cultivar, altitude, time of harvest and extraction process. It consists mainly of oleic acid (up to 83%), with smaller amounts of other fatty acids including linoleic acid (up to 21%) and palmitic acid(up to 20%). Extra-virgin olive oil is required to have no more than 0.8% free acidity and is considered to have the best flavor; it forms as much as 80% of total production in Turkey and 65% in Greece, but far less in other countries.
Make your arteries more elastic. Two tablespoons daily makes you more resistant to strokes and heart attack.
Reduce bad cholesterol levels. Olive oil contains polyphenols, which help to keep your levels of LDL cholesterol within healthy ranges.
Make you less hungry. Olive oil makes you feel sated and tends to make you eat less and have fewer sugar cravings.
Reduce the risk of stroke in the elderly through yet another mechanism. Older people who ate diets rich in olive oil consumption, which contains plasma oleic acid, had fewer strokes in a 2011 study.
Lower the risk of coronary heart disease in women. Mediterranean cultures have long revered the olive and its oil, with good reason. An Italian study found that a diet that included olive oil along with plenty of leafy vegetables and fruit resulted in reduced rates of coronary heart disease in women enrolled in the study.
Cure or reduce acne. Although it sounds counterintuitive to use oil to fight pimples and blackheads, using an olive oil and salt scrub helps some types of acne.
Protect your red blood cells and therefore your heart. Over time, cells oxidize, leading to the common effects of aging. A specific polyphenol in olive oil is especially effective at protecting your red blood cells from oxidation. A 2009 study identified this component as DHPEA-EDA.
Treat sunburn. Olive oil soothes the pain of mild sunburn by helping skin retain its moisture. Use equal parts olive oil and water in a tight-lidded container. Shake well, then apply to mild sunburn. Shake the mixture often during application to keep it from separating.
Help fight breast cancer. Olive oil contains phytochemicals, and a 2008 study found that they are effecting at killing cancer cells and suppressing cancer genes.
Improve your memory. Some research has shown that olive oil can prevent and possibly even reverse the memory loss that accompanies Alzheimer’s disease.
Prevent heart attacks in men. A 2008 study showed that men who ate at least two ounces of olive oil reduced their chances of having a heart attack by 82 percent as compared to men who ate no olive oil.
Keep your lips soft and supple. Make your own lip balm by combining olive oil with equal parts beeswax. Put it into a small glass jar and apply it with your fingertip.
Help you to stay healthier into old age. The Mediterranean Diet has been proven to be one of the healthiest in the world. Some consider it the healthiest. Olive oil has always been an integral part of the Mediterranean Diet. Although red wine and lots of fish, whole grains, fruits and vegetables also play a huge part in the diet’s success, scientists agree that it wouldn’t be nearly as beneficial without olive oil.
Prevent dry scalps. Using olive oil as a scalp conditioner moisturizes your dry scalp.
Prevent middle-age spread. Because olive oil is a calorie-dense food, it is often avoided out of fear that it will cause weight gain. However, a 2008 study showed that olive oil, along with nut oils, did not cause weight gain the way less healthy fats do.
Provide an easy way to add minimally processed food to your diet. Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is unrefined. It is obtained by pressing cold olives. All other oils that are readily available to consumers must be refined using heat and other harsh processes.
Clean sensitive skin. The Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans had no soap and didn’t miss it thanks to olive oil. They massaged olive oil into their skin, then scraped it back off, along with dirt and dead skin. Today, a wide variety of soaps, including some made from olive oil, are available. Yet many people still prefer to clean their skin with pure olive oil.
Remove paint from your skin. Olive oil gently loosens paint on your skin. When you wipe away the oil, the paint goes with it. Your skin will be left soft, firm and smooth.
Make an inexpensive exfoliant that works like the most expensive spa products available. Exfoliating removes dead skin and prevents your skin from becoming dull. Mix a palmful of olive oil with a teaspoon of sugar or salt. Apply the mixture to your skin, then massage gently.
Moisturize your skin. Olive oil is closer in chemical structure to your skin’s natural oil than any other naturally occurring oil. Use it as you would a body, face and hand lotion.
Prevent your skin from aging prematurely. The same antioxidant properties that keep your red blood cells from oxidizing when you eat olive oil keep your skin cells from oxidizing when you apply it topically. The antioxidant hydroxytyrosol and vitamin E help to prevent cell degeneration in your skin.
Prevent sagging skin. The squalene in olive oil increases your skin’s elasticity, leaving it firmly toned with a bright, youthful glow.
Smooth and moisturize rough, dry feet. Make a foot scrub of equal parts olive oil and honey, a third part sugar and a dash of lemon juice. Soak your feet in warm water, then massage the moisture into them. Follow up by moisturizing your feet and hands with a well-shaken water and olive oil emulsion.
Give you a safe sunless tan. Use olive oil as a medium to make self-tanners go on more smoothly and evenly. Mix equal parts of a commercial self-tanning product and olive oil. Apply the mixture to your skin and enjoy your streak-free sunless tan.
Act as a perfect medium for cosmetics. Combined with natural pigments and beeswax, olive oil makes inexpensive, natural lip-gloss, blush and even eye shadow.
Make a perfect addition to homemade skin-care products. Nearly all your skin-care recipes, from masks to exfoliants, can be improved by substituting olive oil for the oil called for in the original recipe. You can also often improve and extend expensive commercial skin care products by mixing a small amount with a palmful of olive oil just before you use them.
Act as a perfect carrier for oil-based medicines. Essential oils usually cannot be used full-strength on the skin. They typically require the use of a carrier oil. Olive oil is excellent carrier oil for most essential oils.
Team up with mashed avocado for a homemade facial mask. Mix olive oil with a mashed ripe avocado into a paste. Smooth onto your face or another area that needs moisturizing and rejuvenating. Allow to sit for 15 minutes, then rinse.
Make a natural vitamin supplement. Two tablespoons can replace your daily vitamin E supplement while providing all the other benefits of olive oil.
Possibly protect and lubricate your voice. There is no scientific evidence yet to back them up, but singers have been using olive oil as a gargle before performing for centuries.
Make a natural massage oil. Olive oil may very well be the world’s oldest massage oil. It can be used alone or as a carrier oil for essential oils. Learn about why olive oil is great for massage.
Improve your skin’s appearance from the inside out. Including olive oil in your daily diet helps your skin stay healthy and beautiful.
Act as an all-natural personal lubricant. Olive oil is almost certainly the world’s oldest personal lubricant. It should not be used in combination with latex condoms or diaphragms, however.
Help fight off degenerative diseases. The antioxidants in olive oil give it the power to help lessen the impact of degenerative diseases on your body.
Improve the health of the entire population of the world. The World Health Organization officially recommends that people across the world adopt the Mediterranean diet for better health and specifically suggests olive oil as the healthiest source of fat on the planet.
Lower your blood pressure. Although researchers have some theories as to why it works, no one is sure why olive oil helps to lower blood pressure. They just know that it does.
Reduce nitric acid to normal levels. Nitric acid has been proven to increase blood pressure. Olive oil reduces nitric acid levels. This may be one of the ways it lowers your blood pressure.
Make fine soap. The very first soap in the world was made of olive oil. Today, olive oil soap is still one of the smoothest, best-smelling soaps on the market.
Make you live longer. There is no doubt that eating a healthy diet can make you live longer. Olive oil is part of the healthiest diet on earth, the Mediterranean Diet.
Minimize cellulite. Mix used coffee grounds with olive oil for a topical cellulite treatment. Apply it directly to the skin.
Condition your hair. Used coffee grounds and olive oil make a good hair conditioner, as well. Rub it in well before you shampoo your hair.
Deep condition damaged hair. Warm a quarter cup of olive oil to a comfortable temperature, then work it through your hair to the roots. Wrap your hair in plastic wrap or a shower cap, then heat your hair with a hair dryer. Allow the oil to sit on your hair for up to a half hour, then shampoo as usual. If you do this in the shower, your whole body will emerge soft and silky.
Remove makeup. Apply olive oil to a cotton ball and gently wipe your makeup off your face. You can safely use olive oil near your eyes.
Prevent mosquitoes from breeding. Prevent mosquito larvae from contaminating rainwater by pouring a layer of olive oil on top of the water in your rain barrel.
Reduce the appearance of stretch marks. Combine equal parts cocoa butter and olive oil for a stretch-mark minimizer.
Enhance the beauty of black hair. Combine olive oil with hair care products to make the product spread more evenly through your hair.
Detangle your hair. Work olive oil into your hair, then comb the tangles right out of it.
Shine and seal your hair. After moisturizing, apply olive oil to prevent the moisture from evaporating.
Boost a commercial conditioner. Add olive oil to conditioner to enhance and improve it.
Prevent hair loss and damage. By using olive oil to manage your hair instead of using harsh chemicals, you can minimize damage to your hair.
Prevent prematurely gray. Using it in your hair will gradually darken it.
Shine household surfaces. Appliances, faucets, stainless steel and laminate surfaces all benefit from a light coating of olive oil and a gentle buffing.
Darken and highlight eyelashes. Use olive oil instead of mascara to darken and shine your eyelashes and eyebrows.
Ease a scratchy throat tickle.