The wonders of olive oil
Ibn al-Qayyim described the benefits of olive oil in his Prophetic Medicine. He said that the characteristics of olive oil corresponded to the type of olives from which it came; oil pressed from ripe olives was the better than oil from unripe olives. He also said that the older the oil, the more effective it was, and when olive oil was more beneficial when it was pressed with water.
Ibn al-Qayyim mentioned that all types of olive oil could soften the skin and delay whitening of the hair. He also said that the benefits of olive oil were many times greater than have been mentioned.
He gave some Prophetic Hadith on the benefits of using olive oil:
“Eat olive oil with your bread, and oil yourselves with it, for it is from a blessed tree.” (Ibn Maja, At’ima, 34)
Olive and olive oil Facts
Green and black olives are essentially the same olive and only vary in the degree of ripeness- black being the most ripe.
Olive oil consists of 75% heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and only 13% saturated fat. It contains active compounds such as oleocanthal, which has a strong anti-inflammatory action to fight heart-disease and cancer. It also contains the natural antioxidants polyphenols, whose beneficial effects include lowering cholesterol, blood pressure and the risk of coronary heart disease. Many other nut and seed oils have no polyphenols whatsoever.
- Cancer PreventionEvidence suggests that olive and olive oil consumption as part of a healthy Mediterranean diet has cancer-protective properties. Research also found that active ingredients in olive oil prevented human colon cancer cells from multiplying.
- high blood pressureA study published in 2007 in the Journal of Nutrition found that introducing moderate consumption of olive oil in the diet reduced systolic blood pressure.
Olive oil Facts
- For the highest antioxidant content, choose extra-virgin or virgin olive oil- these are the least processed forms.
- Extra-virgin comes from the first pressing of the olives and has a superior taste.
- Virgin olive oil is obtained by pressing the crushed fruit in bags and removing the oil. It has a geeenish tint and has a stronger taste than virgin olive oil.
- Olive oils with labels such as ‘refined oil’ ‘pomace olive oil’ or ‘light oil’ should be avoided as they are not always 100% olive oil. Pomace is the ground flesh and pits after pressing.
- Use olive oil for low-temperature cooking. The particles in the oil will burn at higher temperatures, thus burning off the many health benefits.
- Store your olive oil away from heat and light to maintain phytochemical content.
References for further information
- Bondia-Pons I et al. Moderate consumption of olive oil by healthy European men reduces systolic blood pressure in non-Mediterranean participants. J Nutr. 2007 Jan;137(1):84-87.
- Covas MI et al. The effect of polyphenols in olive oil on heart disease risk factors: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med. 2006 Sep 5;145(5):333-341.
- Juan ME et al. Olive fruit extracts inhibit proliferation and induce apoptosis in HT-29 human colon cancer cells. J Nutr. 2006 Oct; 136(10):2553-2557.
- Lee A, Thurnharn DI, Chopra C. Consumption of tomato products with olive oil but not sunflower oil increases the antioxidant activity of plasma. Free Radical Biology and medicine. 29:1051-1055; 2000.
- Owen RW et al. Olives and olive oil in cancer prevention. Eur J cancer Prev. 2004 Aug;13(4):319-326.