Having been used for more than 3,000 years, olive oil is one of the few foods approved by the
FDA to advertise specific health benefits. Whether you’re looking to make the change to a
healthier lifestyle or simply happen to be curious about the complexities of olive oil, you’ve
come to the right place.
Here, you’re going to learn everything from the way olive oil is made to the various health
benefits and reasons we source all of our product from Veronica Foods. So, put your learning
cap on and prepare to take a detailed look at the wonderful world of olive oil and everything it
has to offer.
The Brief History of Olive Oil
The olive tree can be traced all the way back to its roots in the Mediterranean basin
where they’ve been thriving for thousands of years. However, today, olive trees can be
found growing in almost every country around the world as demand climbs and more
people are learning about the holistic power of this natural product.
Once olive oil was discovered, it wasn’t long before small production mills began
popping up throughout the Mediterranean. In fact, some ancient olive oil workshops can
still be seen today in almost perfect preservation. From there, it began spreading to
nearly every major civilization including the Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks.
Even though olive oil was (and still is) primarily used as an ingredient, it’s also been
used as a medicine, fuel, soap, and even in the religious rituals of some cultures.
How Olive Oil is Made
The ancient art of making olive oil has been practiced for thousands of years with many techniques being passed down for generations. This is part of what makes olive oil so unique and diverse as growers from each region typically use different methods. In addition to using different growing methods, there are hundreds of olive varieties that farmers can choose to grow, even though only a few dozen make up the majority of olive oil on the market.
In this section, we’re going to take a detailed look at the process used to grow olives, harvest them, and bottle the oil.
Growing Olive Trees
Unlike many other fruits, olive trees sometimes take years to produce fully mature olives that can be used to make oil. During this time, it’s the farmer’s job to carefully prune the tree and its branches to maximize the number of olives that will be produced for harvest. This is extremely important since it can take as much as ten pounds of olives to produce just one pint of olive oil.
Even though they’re fairly resilient, able to withstand extreme heat and temperatures as low as 15 degrees Fahrenheit, to get the best possible olives, location is everything. Traditionally, olive trees grow best in coastal climates that deliver plenty of sun, which is why they’re native to the Mediterranean basin. With extensive root systems, olive trees have been known to survive for centuries and still be able to produce olives so long as they’re maintained.
After a tree is capable of producing harvest worthy olives, the farmer must pay close attention to grow process to ensure they don’t miss the peak ripeness. Ripe olives only remain at their peak for as little as two weeks, with many of the beneficial properties becoming dramatically reduced after it has passed. Once the olives are ready, the process of harvesting must be done with a fine balance of care and speed to get the best yield and highest quality.
As with many other soft fruits such as plums and peaches, olives are prone to becoming bruised if dropped to the ground. When this happens, the beneficial compounds present within the olives will begin to diminish at a rapid pace. While some olive farmers will openly advertise that their olive oil was produced from “hand picked” olives, depending on the size of the farm, it’s not a viable option for most.
Many olive farmers will use a machine that gently shakes each tree without breaking its branches and catch the falling olives in netting positioned below. You may notice that some olive oils will denote whether they were produced with “ground” olives or “tree” olives to give you a better idea of the quality.
Once harvested from the trees, the olives must then be carefully transported in shallow basins so as to not crush the ones on the bottom. To ensure the highest potency of beneficial properties, picked olives typically need to be pressed within a few hours or else they risk degradation. At the processing plant, they are then thoroughly washed while all excess harvest debris are removed.
After being washed, the olives are finally ready to be crushed in a process called malaxation where the oil and paste (ground up pits and olive skin) are stirred together. This step is done to infuse the oil with stronger flavors from the olive paste and typically takes place in sealed mixing chambers.
From here, the paste gets separated from the oil and it’s either sent off to be bottled or further refined depending on the type of oil they’re producing.
Why We Solely Source From Veronica Foods
Now that you’ve learned about the lengthy process that’s used to produce olive oil all over the world, it’s time you learn about what makes our olive oil so special here at D’Olivo. From our founding roots, we’ve always aimed to deliver nothing but the highest quality olive oil and products to our customers.
We realized that, in order to enjoy all of the health benefits this powerful fruit has to offer, we have to source olive oil from farmers that share our same strong beliefs. As such, we were fortunate enough to discover Veronica Foods, one of the finest conventional, organic, and fused whole fruit olive oil producers in the world.
From humble beginnings, Veronica Foods now exports more than 1 million gallons of olive oil to specialty retail shops throughout the United States each year. In addition to producing many of their own olives from their mill located in Tunisia, Veronica Foods has also formed dozens of alliances with smaller, regional mills that don’t have the resources to expand into the United States market yet.
Through these alliances, Veronica Foods has been able to produce olive oil from unique olive varieties that would otherwise never reach consumers in the United States, opening up whole new worlds of flavor for our customers. The reason we source all of our olive oil products from Veronica Foods is because of their unwavering dedication to producing ultra premium olive oil.
Not only do they apply the highest of standards to every step of the process from olive selection and growing to harvest and production, but they also make sure retailers are fully educated on the quality and benefits of their products.
Due to the proliferation of olive oil fraud and adulteration that’s running rampant throughout the industry, Veronica Foods strives to educate both retailers and consumers on the quality of their oil in hopes of repairing the damage that’s already been caused by large supermarket name brands. Unlike many of these brands that hide important details on the bottle with irrelevant information such as location, olive oil from Veronica Foods openly lists the harvest date, oleic acid percentage, and even polyphenol count.
While not all supermarket olive brands are guilty of doing this, many “extra virgin” olive oils are either blended with lower end oils or produced using methods that ultimately compromise the quality. We proudly offer Veronica Foods olive oil so that we can better serve our customers and help them achieve health goals through the use of our ultra premium, nutraceutical products.
Of course, we also carry a variety of flavored olive oils from Veronica Foods that come packed with all of the same health benefits. With them, you can create a seemingly endless number of tasty combinations, particularly when combined with our authentic aged balsamic vinegars.
Whether taking the simpler route and creating a tasty dip for fresh baked bread, or getting a little more adventurous and seeing how the tantalizing flavors can enhance some of your favorite dishes, we’re sure you’ll never look at olive oil the same again.
Health Benefits of Olive Oil
As tasty as olive oil is, one of the main reasons that many of our customers shop exclusively with D’Olivo is for the products rich in health benefits. For thousands of years, olive oil has been used for its medicinal and holistic properties to treat a number of different aliments. In fact, our deep understanding of the many ways olive oil can help you live a healthier lifestyle has made it a focal point of our business.
Here, you’re going to learn all about the proven benefits olive oil can provide when taken regularly and at the right potency.
Is All Olive Oil the Same?
As you’ve probably noticed, at most supermarkets, there are dozens of different brands and types of olive oil lining the shelves. Depending on the kind of oil, they can range in price from as low as a few dollars to as much as $75 a bottle or more.
Upon closer inspection, you’ll notice labels that simply call it olive oil, light olive oil, pure olive oil, or any of the other variations that companies have come up with. However, when taking olive oil to benefit your health, you need to be looking specifically for extra virgin olive oil (EVOO).
This is the highest quality and most expensive type of olive oil you can buy because it contains no defects, delivers the truest taste, and maintains most of its beneficial properties. To obtain EVOO, producers must pay close attention to every step of the production process and only use mechanical means for extraction while keeping temperatures under a specific threshold.
If EVOO exceeds the temperature threshold, it can no longer be considered extra virgin because the beneficial compounds will have begun to diminish. Even once bottled, extra virgin olive oil has a shelf life of only about 2 years before it begins to degrade and lose potency. When compared side by side with other, lower quality olive oils, EVOO should appear dark, rich, and have an abundance of strong aromas.
1. It’s Rich in Healthy Fats
It’s no secret that popular “diets” and the media like to pin fat as public enemy number one when it comes to food. However, it all comes down to the type of fat your consuming in your diet that ultimately decides whether or not you’ll be benefiting your health, or harming it. The fat content of extra virgin olive oil is predominantly made up of a healthy monounsaturated fat known as oleic acid.
Studies have shown that oleic acid can help to fight inflammation in the body, one of the leading contributors to a range of different diseases and health problems. In addition, the high content of oleic acid in extra virgin olive oil has also shown promising results when used to treat different forms of cancer, though more studies still need to be done.
From the culinary side of things, monounsaturated fats have one of the highest smoke points of the fats, making extra virgin olive oil the ideal candidate for cooking.
2. Beneficial Antioxidants
When thinking of antioxidants, refreshing, brightly colored fruit is typically the first thing that comes to mind. However, most are surprised to learn that olive oil is actually loaded with beneficial antioxidants that can help the body in a number of ways. Containing ample amounts of Vitamin E, carotenoids, and phenolic compounds, olive oil can help protect your body from the harmful effects of oxidation.
The phenolic compounds, in particular, have been studied in detail by experts around the world due to their ability to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular diseases and some cancers as seen in those who regularly partake in the Mediterranean diet. As it turns out, the bioactive antioxidants present in olive oil have also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties similar to that of the common OTC medication, ibuprofen.
3. It Can Help Lower Blood Pressure
Because signs or symptoms of high blood pressure are rarely noticed, it’s often referred to as the silent killer, largely contributing to more serious diseases like heart disease. Whether you currently have hypertension or happen to be at higher risk due to hereditary predispositions, olive oil has been shown to help lower both systolic and diastolic pressure in numerous studies
One study, in particular, gave 23 hypertensive test subjects EVOO daily over a six month period and found that it not only lowered blood pressure, but also outperformed sunflower oil by a marginal amount. In addition, 35% of the participants were able to discontinue the use of their hypertension medication entirely after the six months.
When compared against refined olive oils, experts concluded that the phenol-rich nature of EVOO is what gives it blood pressure lowering properties. Extra virgin olive oil has been considered so effective for hypertensive individuals that it has officially become a part of the DASH diet.
4. Protective Against Obesity
More often than not, when people decide to go on a diet because they’re not happy with their weight, fat is the first macronutrient to get cut. However, as we discussed above, fat’s contribution to obesity largely depends on the type of fat you’re consuming. A study that was conducted on more than 7,000 Spanish participants actually found that olive oil consumption had no effect on weight gain over a 30-month period.
To further support this, another study conducted in eight European countries found that children who stuck to the Mediterranean diet had lower incidences of childhood obesity. Even though this diet consists of many different foods such as fish, nuts, grains, and vegetables, the benefit-rich content of olive oil is believed to have made a sizeable impact on the results.
The high-calorie nature of olive oil may help to keep you feeling full for a longer period of time and prevent needless snacking that often leads to weight gain.
5. Helps Maintain Bone Health
Even with diets rich in calcium, as we get older, our bones are naturally at a higher risk of losing mass and increasing the incidences of fractures from everyday tasks. Olive oil has been observed in more than 30 studies to help prevent the loss of bone mass due to the phenol-rich nature. Referencing back to the Mediterranean diet once more, a large European study with more than 180,000 participants found that those sticking to this diet had a lowered risk of hip fractures due to loss of bone mass.
When consumed regularly, olive oil has been found to boost compounds and peptides in the body that are known to have a protective effect on bone health. Once phenolic compound, in particular, oleuropein, is believed to help with increasing the formation of osteoblasts (bone forming cells). Others have been shown to help prevent the process of bone degradation and assist with the deposit of calcium.
6. Protect Yourself From Rheumatoid Arthritis
With more than 1.5 million people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis in the United States alone, the search for treatments and preventative measures is a constant quest. Because this is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks itself, it’s believed that, aside from genetics, dietary factors play a large role in the onset of rheumatoid arthritis.
Research has found that the fatty acids in olive oil assist the body’s immune system by regulating the inflammatory response and lowering important parameters that ultimately have an effect on autoimmune disorders. While the anti-inflammatory nature of olive oil hasn’t been shown to help reduce the symptoms experienced by those that already have rheumatoid arthritis, regular consumption of olive oil may help prevent its onset.
One study found that individuals who don’t consumer olive oil on a regular basis are 250% more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than those who take olive oil daily.
How to Choose the Right Olive Oil
Now that you’re well educated on the many health benefits olive oil has to offer, it’s important that you know how to pick the right one. Unfortunately, just because olive oil at the store says “extra virgin” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true depending on where you shop. In recent years, many of the large name brands that populate supermarkets have been found to bottle and adulterate fraudulent extra virgin olive oil.
To avoid buying EVOO that may be altered or completely ruined, there’s a few factors that you can look out for.
1. The Label Itself
True extra virgin olive oils will list details that are more important than the location, such as harvest date and oleic acid percentage. You’ll also want to keep your eye out for any bottles that contain seals from reputable organizations such as the North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA).
2. Look at the Packaging
Because olive oil is susceptible to UV radiation, the best EVOOs are bottled in dark glass so as to help preserve the oil. That’s not to say that EVOOs bottled in clear glass are bad, they just need to be properly stored in a cool, dark place.
3. Only Buy “Extra Virgin”
If you’re looking to buy olive oil for the sole purpose of health benefits, you never want to go with anything less than “extra virgin”. As olive oil gets processed, each round further diminishes the beneficial properties until there is little to nothing left.