March, 29, 2012

Olive oil - medicine aliment by Iustina

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The olive tree was and still is the symbol of peace and abundance. Its history is lost in the past long preceding the appearance of man on Earth. Olive branches crowns, emblems of blessing and purification, were offered to the Gods in religious rituals, covered the crowned heads of kings and emperors, were offered to the winners of fights and sports competitions, important figures of the days. The Romans named the olive tree "the green gold". The stone, the arid and dry land, bathed in the sun, the quiet and loneliness are the perfect habitat for the olive tree. There it comes the almost titanic resistance, its vital force that makes it almost immortal. These characteristics are transmitted to its fruits from which it's extracted the olive oil.

The olive oil is one of the most important ingredient of the Mediterranean Cuisine but also a strong ally of health due to the fact that it is rich in monounsaturated fat acids (especially oleic acid). Having in its composition numerous antioxidant substances which have the propriety to keep under control the so called bad cholesterol (LDL) and to increase the good cholesterol (HDL) helps to slow the cellular aging process, plus it diminishes the glucose, prevent the cardiovascular conditions, osteoporosis, protects some tumor forms and list could go on. It can be considered to be an medicine aliment but, to take advantage of all these benefits it should be consumed with moderation, not more than one or two tablespoons per day. We should not forget the fact that is a fat that has a very high calorie intake (10 ml of olive oil has 90 Kcal).

The olive oil is fast digested by the human organism, is more viscous, contain aromatic elements that make it very tasty and as a consequence can be used in a smaller quantity that the rest of the oils. These characteristics transform it in an ideal condiment to flavor the meats, fish, steamed vegetables or salads and, because high burning point is best for frying. The olive oil is also a good preserver and in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry is used on a large scale with great results.

There are several types of olive oil, the most known being : the extra virgin olive oil with a maximum acidity of 0,8%, the virgin olive oil with a maximum acidity of 2% ( these are obtained exclusively through mechanic cold pressing) and the olive pomace oil (olio di sansa) that has an acidity of more than 2% and it's obtained with the chemical solvents of the remaining of the olive pressing and adding an unspecified percent of virgin olive oil. This classification is made based on the acidity degree of the oil ( the quality of the oil depends of the lower degree of acidity) but its aroma equally depends on other factors as : olive kind it's extracted of, production place, maturity degree of the olives and the way they are harvested, the producer experience, etc.

The olive oil can be kept sealed for up to 18 months, away from light ( that's why it's bottled in opaque and dark bottles), away from heat, in cool and dry places, with temperatures between 14 and 20°. In exchange, if the bottle has been opened, is best to be kept with the stopper well closed (to not absorb other smells), in the same conditions enumerated above but for maximum one year, because it can lose its taste, quality and opacity becoming clear, tasteless or rank.

To remember the fact that when you buy olive oil it's obligatory that on the label to be specified the place of provenience of the olives and the producer. The absence of such data may mean a product of doubtful quality.

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