As the basis of every recipe found in traditional cuisine, olive oil plays a dominant role in Greek nutritional every day habits. The Greek olive oil is known worldwide for its purity, exceptional taste and high nutritional value.
The Extra virgin olive oil comes from virgin oil production only, contains no more than 0.8% acidity, and is judged to have a superior taste. It accounts for less than 10% of oil in many producing countries; the percentage is far higher in the Mediterranean countries (Greece: 80%, Italy: 45%, Spain 30%).
Greece is the largest producer of extra virgin olive oil worldwide
Greek olive oil producers & exporters
[ Types of Olive Oil
The olive oil taste is a matter of personal preference, it is rich, beautiful, and fragrant, and is a wonderful source of omega-3 monounsaturated fatty acid and antioxidants. The many variables that go into the production of olive oil yield dramatic differences in color, aroma, and flavor.
[ The following factors can impact the taste of the olive oil
• The type of olives used
• The location and soil conditions where the olives are grown
• The environmental factors and weather conditions during the growing season
• The olive ripeness
• The timing of the harvest
• The harvesting method applied
• The length of time between the harvest and pressing of the olives
• The pressing technique applied
• The packaging and storage methods
Olive oil is highly-prized not only for its health benefits, but also for its wonderful flavor.
The best olive oil is a blend of oil from a mixture of red-ripe (not green and not fully ripe) olives and a smaller proportion of oil from green olives of a different variety. Cold-pressing, a chemical-free process by using only pressure to produce a higher quality olive oil which is naturally lower in acidity.
When purchasing olive oil, it is important to check the labels for the percentage of acidity contained , the grade of oil, the volume, and thecountry of origin. The level of acidity is a key factor in choosing a fine olive oil, along with color, flavor, and aroma.
[ Here are the different categories of olive oils:
• Extra virgin olive oil: is achieved by first cold pressing of freshly picked olives contains no more than 0.8% acidity, and is judged to have a superior taste. It accounts for less than 10% of oil in many producing countries; the percentage is far higher in the Mediterranean countries (Greece: 80%, Italy: 45%, Spain 30%). Is considered the finest and fruitiest, and thus the most expensive olive oil.
• Virgin olive oil: This too olive oil is a first-press oil, but with a slightly higher acidity level of 1-3%. Virgin olive is good for cooking purpose, mainly for sauté and baking and it can be used in salads as well. Virgin olive oil is good for body and hair massage too.
• Fino olive oil: This olive oil is a blend of extra virgin and virgin olive oils.
The olive is native to the Mediterranean region, and each area around the Mediterranean provides a unique type of olive .
The Spanish olive oil is typically golden yellow with a fruity, nutty flavor.
The Italian olive oil is often dark green. It has an herbal aroma and a bitter flavor.
The Greek olive oil has a strong flavor and aroma and tends to be light green.
The French olive oil is typically pale in color and has on a mild flavor.
The Californian olive oil is light in color and flavor and it has a slightly fruity taste.
The Middle East olive oil is rich in flavor and mild in taste with herbal aroma .
As mentioned, some of the olive oils are “green”. These olive oils are from unripe olives and tend to provide a slightly bitter taste. The moderately green tinted oils are commonly found in foods we eat. These olive oils have a fruity and nutty flavor and are added to neutral-flavored foods. The ripe olives produce olive oils that are golden, yellowish color. The olive oil that come from ripe olives are milder with a buttery in taste. They do not have that bitter, fruity flavor like the green olive oils .
[ The health benefits of Olive Oil
The health benefits of olive oil are extensive with new positive attributes discovered all the time. One prominent cardiologist recommends at least two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil each day. At present it is believed that in addition to bolstering the immune system and helping to protect against viruses, olive oil is also effective in fighting against diseases such as:
• Heart Disease: Olive oil helps lower levels of blood cholesterol leading to heart disease.
• Oxident Stress: Olive oil contains antioxidents such as Vitimin E, carotenoids and phenolic compounds which also help lead to long life.
• Cancer: Studies suggest that olive oil exerts a protective effect against certain malignant tumors (breast, prostate, endometrium, digestive tract). A number of research studies have documented that olive oil reduces the risk of breast cancer. Eating a healthy diet with olive oil as the main source of fat could considerably lower cancer incidence.
• Blood Pressure: Recent studies indicate that regular consumption of olive oil can help decrease both systolic (maximum) and diastolic (minimum) blood pressure.
• Diabetes: It has been demonstrated that a diet that is rich in olive oil, low in saturated fats, moderately rich in carbohydrates and soluble fiber from fruit, vegetables, pulses and grains is the most effective approach for diabetics. It helps lower “bad” low-density lipoproteins while improving blood sugar control and enhances insulin sensitivity.
• Obesity: Although high in calories, olive oil has shown to help reduce levels of obesity.
• Rheumatoid Arthritis: Although the reasons are still not fully clear, recent studies have proved that people with diets containing high levels of olive oil are less likely to develop rheumatiod arthritis.
• Osteoporosis: A high consumption of olive oil appears to improve bone mineralization and calcification. It helps calcium absorption and so plays an important role in aiding sufferers and in preventing the onset of Osteoporosis.
[ Olive Oil and Skin Care
Since ancient times olive oil has been used as a way to moisturize and help rejuvenate damaged skin.
As we age our skin deteriorates and its inner and outer layers (dermis and epidermis) grow much thinner. The stresses and strains of aging also cause the skin to lose elasticity, which soon becomes noticeable as wrinkles. External factors, such as the suns rays can also speed up the aging process by generating what are called ‘free radicals’. The good news is that it’s possible to reduce the damage done to cells by using ‘inhibitors’ that lower the risk. There are many creams and lotions on the market that can help with this but if you’re looking for a natural ‘inhibitor’, you need look no further than olive oil, which has a lipid profile very close to that of human skin.
Olive oil has a large proportion of vitamins A, D, and K, as well as vitamin E, which is a key source of protein needed in the fight against free radicals. This makes olive oil particularly helpful in the fight against skin disorders such as acne, psoriasis, and seborrheic eczemas.
Olive oil used daily to improve the condition of skin in the following ways:
• As an exfoliator: Mix olive oil with sea salt and massaging into an affected area helps remove dead skin and enrich the healthier layers below it.
Adding oil to a bath also helps moisturize the whole body.
• In nail and cuticle care: Extra virgin olive oil is a simple solution for dry nails and cuticles. By rubbing a few drops into the cuticle area and around the nail, cuticles stay moist, and nails respond with a natural shine.
• As an eye makeup remover: A drop or two of extra virgin olive oil on a cotton pad helps to gently and effectively remove eye makeup without irritating the delicate skin.
Olive oil also helps to smooth wrinkles that can form around the eyes.