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9 Things You Didn’t Know About Olive Oil

It’s all too easy to take olive oil for granted. Even though most people know that olive oil is more healthy than other alternatives (such as canola or vegetable oil), it’s still rarely viewed as more than a cooking ingredient.

Here at D’Olivo, we’ve made it our life mission to open the eyes of all we come in contact with and introduce them to the holistic (and delicious) world of olive oil. Think you know a lot about olive oil? We’re about to test your knowledge with 10 fun facts (some of which we didn’t even know!)

1. 11 Pounds of Olives = 1 Quart of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

You read that correctly – 11 POUNDS of freshly picked olives are needed to produce just one quart (32 ounces) of extra virgin olive oil. To further put that into perspective, most mature olive trees will only produce 33-44 pounds of olives each growing season.

That means each tree is only capable of producing between 3-4 quarts of extra virgin olive oil every year. This is one of the reasons EVOO fetches a higher price tag than other olive variants such as “light” or “pure”.

Because extra virgin olive oil is only made using oil obtained from the first press, growers can only produce so much each year.

2. The Average Olive Tree Lives For 300-600 Years

Since we were on the topic of olive trees, we figured we’d share the impressive life span these rather normal looking trees boast. Depending on where you get your olive oil from and the brand you buy, you could potentially be consuming olive oil from a tree that’s been around for 5+ generations!

It’s also worth noting that olive trees take years before they even begin producing fruit that can be used to make olive oil. Depending on the type of tree being grown, olive farmers may have to wait for as little as 3 years or as long as 12 years before they can use the fruit.

3. Flavor Directly Relates to Antioxidant Content

Have you ever tasted olive oil that was particularly….olive-y in flavor? If so, there’s a good chance it was extra virgin olive oil. As with many foods and ingredients in the culinary world, olives retain more flavor when they’re processed less.

Another added benefit of minimal processing is a higher concentration of beneficial properties – namely, antioxidants. In addition to being extremely healthy, antioxidants lend a distinctive bitterness to olive oil, which can be used to help distinguish between higher quality oils.

4. Olive Oil Lowers LDL & Raises HDL Cholesterol

When most people hear the word cholesterol, they automatically think it’s bad. This is only true when referring to LDL cholesterol (low density lipoprotein). When you have too much LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream, you enter a higher risk of developing a harmful buildup of plaque in the arteries.

On the other hand, HDL cholesterol (high density lipoprotein) is good for you since it helps eliminate LDL cholesterol. Incorporating olive oil in your diet on a regular basis can help ensure your cholesterol profile remains healthy.

5. Greeks Consume 5.5 Gallons of Olive Oil Each Year

Coming out to just under a quarter cup of olive oil each day, Greeks easily top the chart when it comes to olive oil consumption. By comparison, the average US citizen consumes only ⅓ of a gallon of olive oil each year.

Even though that may seem like a lot of oil to consume in a single year, research has time and time again found Greeks to be some of the healthiest people on the planet. This is why the Mediterranean diet has become such a popular staple.

6. Olive Oil Has Anti-Cancer Properties

Because olive oil has been shown to be so beneficial in many areas of health, some may not be surprised to learn that it also has anti-cancer properties. In fact, olive oil has been found to have numerous anti-cancer agents, most of which come in the form of antioxidants.

Researchers became interested in olive oil relating to cancer when they discovered that populations largely sticking to the Mediterranean diet have some of the lowest instances of cancer on the planet.

7. Olive Oil Can Extend the Shelf Life of Baked Goods

Have you ever baked a large batch of cookies, muffins, or even bread only to find that the majority has gone bad before you eat it? As it turns out, by simply replacing butter or margarine in your baking recipes, you can dramatically increase the shelf life of your baked goods.

The vitamin E rich nature of olive oil helps to preserve freshness so you can enjoy your tasty muffins long after they’ve come out of the oven. However, because olive oil carries a stronger taste than butter, we recommend using only half the suggested amount.

8. Olive Oil May Help Lower Your Blood Pressure

Once again, those who regularly follow the Mediterranean diet also display some of the lowest instances of high blood pressure. Though research has yet to find any definitive reason for the link between olive oil consumption and low blood pressure, tens of thousands around the world have enjoyed this healing benefit.

In fact, some patients that have high blood pressure are able to reduce the number of medications they take by simply adding olive oil to their diets.

9. Green and Black Olives Are Actually The Same
The only difference between green and black olives is the level of ripeness when they’re harvested. Green olives are harvested early on so that they keep their signature green coat, while black olives are left on the tree for a longer period of time.

As an olive ripens, it begins to lose its green color and takes on a spectrum ranging from dark purple to black depending on when the farmer chooses to harvest. All of that being said, there is a difference in taste between green and black olives.

Green olives tend to be a little more on the bitter side while black olives contain more oil and less salt.