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Gourmet Oil and Vinegar

Gourmet Oil and Vinegar

Archive for March, 2009

Olive Oil In History

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Knowing About Olive Oil

Where did olive oil get its start? For thousands of years, the ancient Greeks and Romans told tales of their gods creating olives. Hercules was credited with the birth of olives; he struck the ground and caused an olive tree to sprout according to Roman mythology.

In Greece, olives were created by the goddess Athena and only virgins and chaste men could tend to the groves of olives. To lovers of fine food, olives had become a precious commodity.

Ancient trading ships kept track of their olive oil cargo as they weaved their way through many routes along the Mediterranean. Not only was olive oil used for food, it was also used as a beauty treatment and fuel for lamps. The early Egyptians used olive oil to ease the movement of the great stones used to build the gigantic pyramids.

Civilization was spread by the Roman Empire as was the cultivation of olive groves. The southern regions were built up around oil districts. The collapse of the Roman Empire brought the cultivation of olive groves into a bad light. Only a few places high in the hills of Tuscany could olives be found.

Around 1100 AD, olive groves once again began to flourish and Tuscany became a well known region of numerous olive tree groves. There were strict laws instilled during that time and some of these laws are still in place to this date. Approximately 300 years later, Italy became the largest producer of olive oil in the world. Wars of 1400 AD marked a critical time for oil production but olive oil soon rebounded and became the prime staple on the Renaissance tables of Europe. Because of taxation issues, the olive oil production did slow a bit in the late 1600’s but still maintained its growth due to civilization spreading around the globe. By the 1700’s, Francisca missionaries brought the first olive trees to the new world. In the 1800’s, due to Italian and Greek immigration, olive oil made its commercial entry in America. As an initial ethnic specialty, olive oil soon gained prominence with American chefs.

Now some two hundred years later, olive oil continues to gain in popularity. Already there are over 800 million olive trees around the world and more are being planted each day. In the mid-1970’s, several nutritional diets pointed to the Mediterranean diet and the lessening of health problems. Foods prepared in the Mediterranean region were not only delicious but were good for people. A typical diet is based on fresh vegetables, seasonal fruits, grains and of course, olive oil.

The olive tree is an evergreen and does not bear fruit until it is almost eight years old. The average tree produces up to 44 pounds of olives per year and there are 70 varieties of olives grown throughout the world. Botanists claim that a normal lifespan for an olive tree can be up to 600 years although some claim that in the Mediterranean Basin, there are olive trees 1,000 years old. No wonder longevity is claimed when one incorporates olive oil in their diet.

olive oil history, olive oil facts

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Health Benefits Of Olives

Monday, March 09th, 2009

Olive Oil Inhibit Cancer Cells.

Can it be true that olives inhibit cancer cells? Researchers have found a compound present in the leaf and the olive skin wax, extracted from crushed olive pulp, known as maslinic acid. Maslinic acid can prevent cancer and regulate programmed cell death (apoptosis) in the formation of cancer.

Maslinic acid has the capacity of regulating cell growth. It controls hyperplasia and hypertrophy which is typical of cancer and is used in treating cancer. How maslinic acid works from the molecular point of view when applied to developing tumor cells has been observed by scientists.

There are three advantages of maslinic acid carried out by PhD student Fernando Zuirta and directed by Professor L. Cara of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular biology I.

• Maslinic acid is a natural compound and is therefore less toxic

• Maslinic acid is selective, acting only on cancer cells

• Maslinic acid prevents cancer by inhibiting cancer cells appearance
in cells who have a higher predisposition to developing cancer.

Maslinic acid can be used in different types of tumors, including colon cancer. Rats fed a diet supplemented with olive oil had colon cancer almost as low as those diets supplemented with fish oil. Several studies have suggested that fish oil reduces the incidents of colon cancer. Olive oil, in the prevention of colon cancer, has as yet to be proven in humans. Yet as a chemo preventative agent of natural origin, olive oil may prove a cheap and effective way of controlling colon cancer and other diseases. This is done by intervening in the activation of cancer, DNA repair, cell cycle arrest, cell differentiation and a programmed cell destruction of a cancer cell in the body.

Maslinic acid is a pentacyclic terpene which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects on the body. This property can be found in high concentrations in the olive skin wax. At the moment, the only facility producing this substance is at the Faculty of Sciences at the Universidad de Granada.

There is so much to learn about the olive. When it is made into a juice, the taste, aroma, vitamins and properties of the olive are preserved. Olive oil is well tolerated by the stomach.

Olive oil extra virgin, virgin, or plain olive oil. Which is better? The difference between these oils is their acidity level which primarily affects the taste and not the nutritional content. The lower the acidity, the more antioxidants are found; this is the case with extra virgin olive oil. Antioxidants may help in preventing heart disease and caner so using extra virgin olive oil seems to be the better choice. The taste is mild and will not overwhelm any recipe.

Because cancer seems to be on the rise, either due to the environment or poor eating habits, it would only make sense that incorporating something as healthy as olive oil into the diet would be the most sensible advice given. How can cancer cells survive in an environment that includes the eating of olives as a healthy anti-cancer dietary food? 

olives health benefits 

 

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