Because we live in Canada – not the most ideal climate for growing olives – we don’t really inherently know a lot about olives and olive oil. In our stores we talk a lot about the difference between extra virgin olive oil and “just plain” olive oil and, in fact, don’t sell any that aren’t extra virgin because we believe that any grade less than extra virgin is not worthy of consuming. And “just plain” olive oil has hardly any flavour and much less in the way of health benefits. But here are 9 cool facts about Olive Oil you may not already know!
1. 11 Pounds of Olives = 1 Litre of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
You read that correctly – Just over 11 POUNDS of freshly picked olives are needed to produce just one litre 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 REAL 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
Depending on where you get your olive oil from you could potentially be consuming olive oil from a tree that’s been around for 5+ generations! It’s also worth noting that depending on the type of tree being grown olive trees take 3-12 years before they even begin producing fruit that can be used to make olive oil.
3. Flavour Directly Relates to Antioxidant Content
Have you ever tasted olive oil that was bitter in flavour? 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 flavour when they’re processed less and they are bitter little fruits, which is what makes them healthy. Another added benefit of minimal processing (and no heating!) is a higher concentration of beneficial properties – namely, antioxidants. In addition to being extremely healthy, antioxidants lend a distinctive bitterness to extra virgin olive oil, which can be used to help distinguish higher quality oils. Ask us about polyphenols.
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. HDL cholesterol (high density lipoprotein), is good for you since it helps eliminate LDL cholesterol. Incorporating extra virgin olive oil in your diet on a regular basis can help ensure your cholesterol profile remains healthy.
5. Greeks Consume about 6 litres 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 1/4 of a litre olive oil each year, Canadian even less. Even though 6 litres 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. We suggest using our extra virgin olive oils on salad, in baking, sauteeing, bar-b-quing, marinating , on yogurt, ice cream and more! Just a tablespoon a day contributes so much to your health!
6. Extra Virgin Olive Oil Has Anti-Cancer Properties
Because extra virgin 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, extra virgin 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. Extra Virgin 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 extra virgin olive oil helps to preserve freshness so you can enjoy your tasty muffins long after they’ve come out of the oven. However, because EVOO carries a stronger taste than butter, we recommend using only half the suggested amount and one of the more mild EVOOs.
8. Extra Virgin Olive Oil May Help Lower Your Blood Pressure
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. Patients who have high blood pressure are able to reduce the number of medications they take by simply adding olive oil to their diets. But don’t take our word for it – always consult your doctor!
9. Green and Black Olives Are The Same
The only difference between green and black olives is the level of ripeness when they’re harvested. Green olives are harvested early (May and October) 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 colour 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 (and make the highest quality extra virgin olive oil) while black olives contain more oil (because they are older and more ripe) and less salt.