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The timeless value of olive oil for our health: Known for its healing and nutritional properties since antiquity, olive oil is one of the key products in the Mediterranean world, and its value for nutrition and health is indisputable. In ancient Greece, olive oil was an integral part of the daily diet. Depending on the variety and quality of olives, oil fell into the following categories: The excellent quality olive oil was produced from slightly unripe olives and was called “omotrives” or “omfakinon”. Next came the good quality olive oil that was called “deuteron geuma” (i.e. second taste) oil which came from ripe or bruised olives. Another type was the so called “chydaion elaion” (ordinary oil) which was pressed from overripe olives. Besides diet, olive oil was also used for body and hair care and its application protected the skin from the cold and the sun.
Olive oil has been also renowned for its healing properties since antiquity. Having acknowledged the benefits of olive oil, Homer called it “Golden Liquid” and Hippocrates “Great Healer”. Hippocrates’ Codex includes more than 60 pharmaceutical uses of olive oil. It was ideal for everything, from skin diseases, injuries and burns, to ear inflammations, as well as gynaecological conditions. References to the therapeutic effects of olive oil can be found in various ancient sources, from Plutarch who mentioned the treatment of mastitis with “hydrelaion” (water and oil), to the inscriptions of Asclepius of Levina and to Theophrastus who presented information about the ingredients and the recipes for the production of aromatic oil. Great ancient doctors, such as Galen, Dioscorides, and Diocles strongly believed that olive oil can be used to treat many diseases and ensure longevity and quality in everyday life.
The extraordinary health-protective effect of polyphenolic olive oil As shown by the European Regulation 432/2012 (pages 21 & 22) regarding the health protective action of the olive oil with high phenolic content, polyphenols and inparticulary some of them (like oleocanthal, oleacein, tyrosol – derivatives of hydroxytyrosol), are contained in extra virgin olive oil and have strong antioxidant action. According to this regulation, a daily intake of 20 gr of extra virgin olive oil with high content of polyphenols (more than 5 mg of hydroxytyrosol and its derivatives / 20 gr of oil) contributes to the protection of blood lipids from oxidative stress. Furthermore, the health protective action of olive oil, has also been revealed by studies that were conducted by Davis University-USA, and also by a wide range of relevant researches, clinical studies and reports from scientists, universities and organisations worldwide, proving that olive oil with high content of polyphenols and their derivatives can prevent and treat various health conditions. The daily intake of extra virgin olive oil, with high content of polyphenols proves beneficial due to both their individual and combined function. More than 20 phenols and polyphenols have been identified in olive oil and their precious health protective and curative action has been already proven, or is still under investigation (final stage-clinical tests and documentation).
The more typical of them are: Hydroxytyrosol, Tyrosol, Vanilic acid, Caffeic acid, Ferulic acid, Vanilin, p-coumaric acid, o-coumaric acid, Oleacein, Οleuropein and its various aglycones, Ligustroside and its various aglycones.