Olive oil comes from the Olea Europaea tree. This tree is found, mostly, in the Mediterranean basin, Asia and Africa. It grows approximately twenty-six to forty-nine feet tall, has a twisted trunk, small white flowers and silvery-green, oblong shaped leaves. It has a study and extensive root system.

Olive trees are very hardy, drought, disease and fire resistant. They can live for a very long time. The older an olive tree, the more gnarled or twisted their trunk appears. Olive grown around the Mediterranean basin are said to be centuries years old!

This tree produces round to oblong shaped fruit, called olives. Olives have a sweet fleshy layer outside and a small seed inside. They grow slowly and are harvested when they turn a greenish-purple color. They have a, naturally, bitter taste. Olives grow well in hot weather. If the temperature falls below 14 degrees Fahrenheit, it may injure an olive tree.

Olive oil is pressed from olives. It is used throughout the world. There are different grades of olive oil: extra virgin, virgin, pure, pomace, and lite. Their colors vary, due to processing. Colors can vary from a darker green to a, lighter, yellowish-red. Higher quality olive oil has a dark robust greenish color, found in the extra virgin type. If extra virgin olive oil shows a lighter, yellowish, shade, it was probably pressed from low quality olives.


“Virgin” has no chemical treatments, “Refined” has been chemically treated and “Pomace” has been extracted by solvents and heat.

Extra Virgin Oil: Least processed, derived from the first pressing of olives, contains high amounts of nutrients and vitamins, no additives, light, delicate, texture, superior taste, oleic acidity level of less than one percent, exceeding no more than 0.8 %. This oil is highly valued for its perfect balance of flavor, aroma, color and acidity level. It’s used for cooking, as topping on salads, in dressings or as a dipping oil for breads.

Virgin Olive Oil: Produced from the second processing of olives, has an acidity level of less than 2 %, more intense flavor and a good taste. Used for cooking, dressings, salads and more.

Pure Olive Oil: A blend of refined and virgin olive oil, contains small amounts of vitamin E, acidity level less than 2 %, lower nutrient content and is less expensive. Cannot be used for dressings, but better suited for high temperature cooking.

Pomace Olive Oil: Lowest grade of olive based oils. Produced from the residual oil left in the olive’s pomace. Blended with varying amounts of virgin olive oil to make it acceptable for consumers. Used for high temperature cooking.

Lite Olive Oil: Pure rectified oils containing tiny amounts of virgin oils, if any at all. Oils are light tasting and light in color. Contains the same amounts of calories and fats as all olive oils. Poorer quality.

Storing Olive Oil: Keep tightly sealed in a cool, dry, dark place to resist rancidity. Heat, air, light and time are the enemies of olive oil. If it’s over six months old it can lose up to 40% of its healthy, antioxidants benefits. This oil does not improve with age, so use it within 3 months. It can be refrigerated but there are different opinions about this. Some claim refrigeration can harm its flavor and others claim it may need refrigeration due to its highly perishable monosaturated fat. Refrigeration will cause the oil to turn solid, but then return to a liquid form when it’s removed. Taking olive oil in and out of the refrigerator causes it to lose its uniqueness.

Health Benefits of Olive Oil: Reduces LDL, (bad cholesterol,) promotes HDL, (good cholesterol); lowers risk of heart disease. Extra virgin and virgin oils contain high amounts of polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant, which helps prevent cancer. Olive oil discourages clogging of arteries, is gentle on the stomach and digestive tract, acting like a mild laxative. It’s a friend to the intestines and an enemy to ulcers and gastritis. Good quality olive oils contain the benefits of vitamins and nutrients. It’s rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, C, D, E and K. It, also, contains iron and is cholesterol free!

Skin Care Benefits of Olive Oil: Renews skin cells. Neutralizes free radicals leading to skin cancer and aging skin. Moisturizes skin, providing a light protective layer. It’s mild and gentle, containing the benefits of vitamins, especially the benefits of vitamin E. It contains a soothing enzyme, Oleocanthal, for relieving pain and inflammation. Olive oil is used in commercial and homemade skin care products: soaps, lotions, creams, lip balms and more. It’s useful for mature, sensitive, inflamed, chapped, dry flaky skin and acne relief.

Hair Care Benefits of Olive Oil: Olive oil is used in commercial and homemade shampoo. It adds shine and tames dull, dry or frizzy hair. It maintains and manages hair.

Other Uses of Olive Oil: Lubricates scratchy throat, can reduce snoring, used, (in part), to prevent corrosion, streaks, and tarnish, lubricates squeaky door hinges, can aid in relieving earaches and much more!

The olive oil benefits are many and it’s used a variety of ways! Olive oil is used, in many countries, throughout the world!

Author's Bio: 

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