Olive Oil: History and Benefits

The olive tree is considered as an important part of the human life and a crucial one in the Mediterranean civilization in particular, from the first existence of humanity. For centuries, this tree has satisfied the many basics needs of the man’s daily life as well as its spiritual ones. It has left important impacts in the basic aspects of civilization such as history, mythology, ecology, philosophy, archeology, medicine and agriculture. The inhabitants of the Mediterranean shores have successively included the olive oil in their society. As an inhabitant of the Mediterranean basin I do consider olive oil as an essential ingredient of my daily life. Every morning I add this golden substance to my cheese accompanied by a cup of tea, at lunch to my boiled vegetables and at dinner to my pasta. When I have the flu or stomach aches , my mother gives me a spoon of olive oil or put some of it on my chest. In other words I grew up and olive oil is always present in my daily life and unconsciously its existence became crucial. For this reason I decided to write a paper about the history and the benefits of olive oil and its impact on both society and the human body. To introduce to olive oil to the new generation which its individuals, unfortunately, ignore the benefits of its components on their health and also to try make a change in the unhealthy eating habits that the whole people are suffering from it this century. In the first part of my paper I am going to talk about the history of olive oil: where , by who and when it was discovered? What is its impacts on the society? And what is its symbol in the different religions and mythologies? In the second part I am going to talk about the health benefits of olive oil: how olive oil fights cancer? How it prevents from cardiovascular diseases and reinforces body?

The olive tree has ancient roots, it has existed on earth since prehistory but its origin stays until now a mystery. Olive tree is considered as the oldest and the first plant cultivated by man and it has been consumed and used before the written language was invented. Some historians claim that he Persians were the first ones who found the appropriate method and tools to cultivate it 12000 years ago BC while the Egyptians 6000 years ago BC, exploited its benefits in the body care, the funeral rituals and the mummification of their pharaohs. This blessed tree was mentioned in the inscription of tablets dating from the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, an ancient leader of the Chaldean dynasty, found in a palace of Babylon (magelon). Others confirm that this golden tree was discovered in Asia Minor 5000 BC by the Phoenicians and spread from Iran and Palestine to the rest of the Mediterranean basin. In Greece mythology olive tree was said to have been created by Athena, goddess of wisdom, as a gift to the Greeks while facing Poseidon, god of oceans, for the possession of Attica (Athena nowadays).It considered in the Greeks’ culture as the symbol of dignity, peace and victory and its branches and jars of its oil were offered as a reward to the Olympics games’ winners. In several religions the olive tree is considered as a sacred plant. In the Judaism it is the symbol of the union between god and men and a means of purification and protection. In Islam, the olive tree was mentioned in the Quran as blessed tree since it is a guide of men on earth and the prophet Muhammed advised his followers to put olive oil to their bodies when they are sick and to repeat some several verses of the holy Quran. In Christianity it is used in the consecration of kings, priests and prophets and also in the baptism as tool of bless, protection from evil and an indication of the love of god. Further more olive oil was also used for light, food, heating and medicine since the ancient world. It belonged since centuries to the Mediterranean cookery and medicine ( Toussaint samat 127) and was considered as an essential component of the Mediterranean culture. Key element of the Mediterranean diet and thanks to its balanced components it has a beneficial effects in preventing some diseases. Several studies have reveled that the death rates caused by the cardiovascular diseases were lower in the countries of the Mediterranean basin. This is basically due to the typical diet of the Mediterranean inhabitants which is composed of fruits, vegetables, cereals and fish. All these healthy ingredients are prepared and consumed everyday with olive oil. Various medicinal benefits were attributed to the olive oil. Indeed this category of people has more long life expectancy than the others thanks to the olive oil that consume regularly which contains vitamins A,B,E and K and many minerals, vegetable protein and monounsaturated fatty acids mainly oleic acids that cuts the risk of having cardiovascular diseases. Others components of olive oil have a beneficial impact too: The tocopherols (vitamin E for example) are anti-toxins that have a crucial rule in the protection of the heart. The phenols, vitamins present in olive oil, has an inhibitory effect on the enzyme involved in the cancer development and are also anti-inflammatory ( Carralafuente). The aromatics have antibacterial and antimicrobial effects while the carbohydrates have a protective role against the tumors’ developments. Furthermore, leaves of the olive tree helps to fight many disorders of fever, head aches ,the effects of pollution on the human body, Ulcers and even cholera Olive oil also stimulates sexual abilities, protect from the blood clots and reinforce the glandular function. This miraculous substance prevents from breast cancer and colon cancer .It decreases blood pressures and helps digestion. It also fights obesity and maintains the hair and moisturizes the skin. High content of antioxidant vitamin E olive oil prevents also from the atherosclerotic plaques. By lowering platelet aggregation, the oleic acid of olive oil also contributes to prevent and reduce atherosclerosis which a lot of people suffer from. .

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