Olive oil can be too easily taken for granted. Even though most people are aware that olive oil is healthier than other options (like canola oil or vegetable oil), it is still mostly used as a culinary component.
We at Marchesi Gallo have made it one of our life’s missions to open people’s eyes to the world of extra virgin olive oil as a whole and to introduce them to its goodness. Do you consider yourself an olive oil expert? Here are ten interesting facts – some of which we didn’t even know – let’s put your knowledge to the test.
Extra virgin olive oil: 5/6 kilos of olives for a liter of oil
You read that right: a single liter of extra virgin olive oil can be obtained from 5 or even six kilos of freshly picked olives.
Consequently, each tree can only produce 3-4 quintals of extra virgin olive oil per year. This is one of the factors contributing to the higher price of EVOO compared to other varieties of olive oil such as “light” or “pure”.
Growers can only produce a certain amount of extra virgin olive oil per year because this oil can only be produced from the first pressing.
The typical life span of an olive tree is 300-600 years
Since we’re talking about olive trees, we thought we’d mention the long lifespan of these otherwise unremarkable trees. You can consume olive oil from a tree that has been around for more than five generations, depending on where you buy it and the brand you choose!
It is also important to remember that olive trees take years to start producing the fruit from which olive oil can be made. Olive growers may have to wait as little as three or even twelve years before they can use the fruit, depending on the type of tree they are growing.
The relationship between flavor and antioxidant content
Have you ever tasted an olive oil with a particularly… olive flavor? If so, extra virgin olive oil was probably used. Olives maintain a more intense flavor when they undergo less processing, as is the case with many foods and ingredients in the culinary world.
A higher concentration of therapeutic properties, especially antioxidants, is another benefit of poor processing. Olive oil has a characteristic bitterness that can be used to identify it from lower quality oils, as well as being very healthy.
Olive oil increases HDL cholesterol and lowers LDL cholesterol
Most people immediately associate cholesterol with something bad when they hear this word. Only when it comes to LDL cholesterol (low density lipoprotein) is this accurate. In the presence of an excess of LDL cholesterol in the blood, plaque is more likely to develop in the arteries.
However, HDL cholesterol (high density lipoprotein) is beneficial to health, as it helps eliminate LDL cholesterol. Regular use of olive oil in the diet can help maintain a good cholesterol profile.
Greeks consume 5.5 liters of olive oil per person per year
Greeks comfortably top the list of olive oil consumers, consuming just under a quarter cup a day on average. In contrast, the average American consumes just one liter of olive oil each year.
While that may seem like an excessive amount of oil to ingest in a year, studies have repeatedly shown that Greeks enjoy some of the best health in the world. This explains why the Mediterranean diet has become so famous.
Olive oil has cancer prevention qualities
Some may not be surprised to find that olive oil has anticancer abilities, as it has been shown to be effective in many areas of health. In fact, olive oil has been shown to contain a number of anticancer chemicals, most of which are antioxidants.
When it was discovered that cultures that predominantly adhere to the Mediterranean diet have one of the lowest cancer incidences on the planet, researchers became interested in the relationship between olive oil and cancer.
The shelf life of baked goods can be extended by olive oil
Have you ever made a large batch of cookies, muffins, or even bread, only to find most of it spoiled before you could use it? It is proven that you can significantly extend the shelf life of your baked goods simply by substituting butter margarine or olive oil butter in your recipes.
Thanks to the properties of olive oil, rich in vitamin E, you can enjoy your delicious muffins even after they have been baked. However, we recommend using only half the recommended amount because olive oil has a stronger flavor than butter.
Blood pressure can be lowered by olive oil
Again in this case, those who habitually consume a Mediterranean diet have among the lowest rates of hypertension. Thousands of people around the world have benefited from this health boon, although research has not yet identified a clear cause for the association between olive oil consumption and reduced blood pressure.
In fact, some hypertension patients find that by incorporating olive oil into their meals, they are able to use fewer prescriptions.
Green and black olives are the same
The degree of ripeness at the time of harvest is the only distinction between green and black olives. Black olives are kept on the tree for a longer period of time, while green olives are harvested earlier to preserve their characteristic green colour.
Depending on when the farmer decides to harvest them, an olive begins to lose its green hue as it ripens and develops hues ranging from dark purple to black. That said, there is a flavor distinction between green and black olives.
Black olives have more oil and less salt than green ones, which tend to be slightly more bitter.