Olive oil is primarily a fatty oil used for food and cooking while in ‘olden-times’ it was used for burning in oil lamps. The “first” or “beaten” or “extra virgin” as we would call it today contains the essential oils of the olive fruit along with the fatty oil of the seed.
Flax seed and walnut oils deserve comment also inasmuch as they, like olive oil, contain natural healing and health maintenance properties when consumed. These have been shown to be particularly rich in omaga-3 fatty acids. According to an article in Natural Medicine Alert (January 2001) the best form of omega 3 is alpha linoleic acid (ALA). Flax seed (linseed oil) is 53% ALA while walnut is 10% ALA.
It has been shown that a deficiency of essential fatty acids, particularly omega-3 and 6, may contribute to degenerative illnesses and symptoms such as diabetes, eczema, psoriasis, acne, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, cancer and others, yet there are in recent times many articles written about the health benefits where they state that a diet rich in these oils can help reverse these conditions or indeed prevent them. A diet rich in omega-3 and 6, such as found in flax seed and walnut, has also been correlated with increased longevity.
It has been documented many times that people who follow a European diet are beginning to demonstrate the countless ways olive oil can improve our health, and our lives. Olive oil is the keystone of the diet of many who live in and around the Mediterranean — an essential nutritional mainstay for some of the world’s longest-living cultures.
An article in http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266258.php writes “Olive oil, rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, is a major component of the Mediterranean diet. Populations from that region have longer life expectancies and lower risks of heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke, compared with North Americans and Northern Europeans.”
When olive oil was extracted in biblical times, the whole unripe fruit was beaten in a stone mortar or mashed by treading underfoot. The broken olives were placed in special baskets where the oil was allowed to drain into vats or basins. This could take a few hours or a few days. In today’s language we call this “virgin oil”, while the oil that drains in the first hour or so is called “extra virgin”. Because the whole fruit is crushed with the hard seed, the result is a mixture of the fatty oil of the seed kernel and the aromatic essential oil of the fruit. Thus the first oil is both fatty and essential.
Beaten, or virgin, olive oil has a definite and distinct fragrance and flavour due to its aromatic constituents. It also has certain healing properties. Virgin oils are the most expensive and in my opinion those with least chance of adulteration. They are like fine wines and each year’s crop produces a slightly different nuance much favoured by gourmets. For me, it’s worthwhile to pay that little extra for the best possible oil I can find. In my life it has daily use for dipping a bit of crusty bread into (as a substitute for butter), or drizzling over salads or fresh healthy soup, or in a tablespoon that I take every day for its heart-healthy benefits. It is known to cleanse and assist liver function, regulate bile production, and reduce the incidence of gall stones. It also helps to restore normal digestion and even help in the healing of certain ulcers, while daily intake has been observed to have anti-inflammatory befits for arthritis pain. In order to retain the aromatic, or essential, components of olive oil it must not be heated as in frying. It is best eaten cold and in my diet it is a must. One of God’s creations for the benefit of mankind and certainly one that I insist on using often.