The olive tree is one of the most beloved trees in the history of mankind. People considered it sacred since ancient Greece. It has always been a symbol of longevity, peace, harmony, growth, rebirth and friendship. It has also inspired various artists, poets and writers around the world. Olive trees benefit the environment in many ways. They contribute to the preservation of natural resources and biodiversity. Trees act as agents in the fight against global warming and desertification. Evidence shows that olive cultivation increases the uptake of atmospheric carbon dioxide in the soil. Cultivated in 56 countries, the olive tree stimulates sustainable cultivation. It is also expanding the agricultural area globally.
Not only the tree itself, but its fruits and oil are very nutritious and healthy. Olive oil is famous for its antioxidant properties and therapeutic values and olives are healthy, delicious and fun to eat.
Benefits of olives and olive oil
A nutritious addition: The typical olive contains between 11 and 15 percent fat. The rest of the olive is mostly fiber and water. Even though they contain fat, olives can be an ideal snack on a low calorie diet. A serving of 10 medium-sized black olives contains only 59 calories. That’s less calories than a banana! While olive oil is rich in monounsaturated oleic acid. This fatty acid is believed to have many beneficial effects and is a healthy choice for cooking.
Has antioxidant properties: In addition to vitamin E, olives contain many lesser-known antioxidants, such as oleuropine, hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol, oleonalic acid, and quercetin. These antioxidants work together to combat the damaging effects of free radicals in the body. Some research suggests that free radicals contribute to the development of serious illnesses, such as heart disease and cancer. Therefore, consuming foods rich in antioxidants, such as olives, can help protect your health.
Helps keep the heart healthy: Olives are packed with monounsaturated fatty acids, a type of fat linked to lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) while maintaining HDL (good cholesterol). The potent antioxidant properties of olive polyphenols may also protect against oxidative stress and chronic inflammation, a key trigger for heart disease.
Additionally, long-term evidence suggests that people who consume extra virgin olive oil daily have a lower risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular death than those who do not. What’s more, several large studies show that people who consume olive oil have a much lower risk of stroke, the second-leading killer in developed countries.
Improves bone health: Polyphenols can also improve bone mineral density by reducing degeneration. Human studies have found that daily consumption of olive oil may prevent the decline in bone mineral density and improve markers of bone turnover. Accordingly, olives, olive oil and its polyphenols are potential dietary interventions to prevent osteoporosis, especially in the elderly. This may be a reason why Mediterranean diets have been linked to a lower risk of fractures in older people.
Helps prevent inflammation: As mentioned earlier, olives can help fight inflammation. The polyphenols found in olives can help reduce chronic inflammation by stopping damage to body tissues before it begins. Olives contain anti-inflammatory compounds called oleocanthal which prevent the formation of inflammatory enzymes that can lead to diseases like arthritis and type 2 diabetes. Inflammation is believed to be the root cause of diseases, including and eliminating inflammatory foods and replacing them with anti-inflammatory foods is a key first step for anyone seeking health!
Helps in cancer prevention: Cancer is one of the most common causes of death in the world. People in Mediterranean countries have a lower risk of certain cancers, and many researchers believe olive oil may be the reason. Olives and olive oil contain substantial amounts of other compounds believed to be anticancer agents (eg, squalene and terpenoids) as well as peroxidation resistant lipid oleic acid. The antioxidants in olive oil can reduce oxidative damage from free radicals, which are believed to be one of the main drivers of cancer.
May improve brain health: Since olives help reduce oxidative stress caused by inflammation, they also protect tissues in vital organs (i.e. your brain!) From harmful and potentially irreversible damage. Another plus: olives contain vitamin E, an antioxidant linked to improved cognition and reduced risk of cognitive decline. Diets that rely on olive oil as the primary source of fat are also associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
World Olive Tree Day
World Olive Day was proclaimed at the 40th session of the General Conference of UNESCO in 2019 and takes place on November 26 of each year.
The olive tree, more precisely the olive branch, holds an important place in the minds of men and women. Since ancient times, it has symbolized peace, wisdom and harmony and, as such, is important not only for the countries where these noble trees grow, but for people and communities around the world.
Conserving and cultivating the olive tree is a growing imperative as the world struggles and adapts to climate change. The protection of cultural and natural heritage, including landscapes, is important and marking World Olive Day strengthens efforts for environmental sustainability. The objective of World Olive Tree Day is to encourage the protection of the olive tree and the values it embodies, in order to appreciate its social, cultural, economic and environmental importance for humanity. There is much to learn, share and celebrate on this Day.