“Cleopatra and Nefertiti knew the wonderful effects of olive oil,” muses Margot Hellmiss in a matter-of-fact way. For millions of people across the globe, olive oil is symbolic of a Mediterranean lifestyle, something to be looked at with amazement and awe.
But slowly and steadily, the world is waking up to the cosmetic, household, nutritional, and most-importantly heart-related benefits of this ‘liquid gold.’ Its acceptance as a regular in the grocery list is growing, not only in the high-end market and five star restaurants, but also in normal households.
The exceptional qualities of the olive oil stem from the fact that the olive tree in itself is a very unique plant. It has a remarkably long life span and needs little or no maintenance for its survival because of its extremely long roots. It finds its presence near the sea and grows amazingly in the heavily salted water too. The fruit of this tree is the magical olive, which never ceases to amaze mankind with its numerous benefits.
Olive oil has traditionally been used as part of a skin-care regimen for its cleansing and moisturising properties. Olive oil is rich in Vitamin A, B1, B2, C, D, and most importantly, vitamin E. Vitamin E is the single-most common component in all moisturizing creams, gels, and cleansers. Vitamin E promotes elasticity and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It is that essential element in all emoluments. If nature has packed all of this goodness in one single drop of this awesome product, the why use any other substitute?
Olive oil can be used as a natural cleanser and scrub. You can use it directly on the face or can mix it with vinegar or sugar to make cleaners or scrubs respectively. It leaves the skin refreshed and soft. It is especially good for small kids who are prone to rashes and are allergic to certain chemical ingredients in the general cosmetic preparations. Olive oil is an excellent make-up remover too.
When used as a hair-care supplement, olive oil acts as a superb conditioner, making the hair soft and silky. It features in most of the branded hair conditioner shampoos along with other ingredients. Regularly massaging your hair with this oil removes frizzes and gives that silky smooth hair you often see models flaunting in TV commercials. Olive oils are proven natural home remedy for head lice. For treating stubborn head lice, apply a liberal amount of olive oil on the head, let it stay for a while, and then comb it off with a lice comb. This treatment has been proven to be effective in the removal and prevention of head lice in a natural way, instead of using the often harsh chemicals usually prevalent in the market.
Over and above the usefulness of olive oil for personal grooming, olive oil is most treasured for its phenomenal properties in the field of health care, especially cardiac health. Olive oil is virtually at the top of the ladder when it comes to mono-unsaturated fatty acid contents. The monounsaturated fatty acids restrict the growth of LDL-the bad cholesterol and promote the increase of HDL-the good cholesterol. The modern world is paying a price for its high calorie junk food. Preparing food using olive oil is being considered a sensible and healthy lifestyle choice.
Olive oil is packed with antioxidant particles, which makes it such a healthy option for cooking. It serves the dual purpose of increasing the healthy cholesterol in the body, while the antioxidants at the other end take care of preventing the cancer-forming cells in the body. For the consumer, it is really a win-win situation.
Olive oil is mostly associated with the Mediterranean style of cooking. No surprise when, initially, the Indian segment was a little resistant to using olive oil for its style of cooking. But fervent publicity and increase in general awareness about its benefits and suitability to Indian cooking has brought about a significant change in the mindset of an everyday homemaker. Regular use of olive oil for cooking is slowly catching up in Indian cooking too. Today, you see many a households switching to this magical potion, not just for salad dressings, but for daily cooking needs in its varied formats, shallow fry, deep fry, roast, etc. Among the different varieties of olive oil, the Extra Virgin Olive Oil is considered the best for cooking purposes.
Apart from its most acknowledged and valued benefits, the olive oil has multiple other benefits too. It affects the gastrointestinal system by aiding digestion and allows the body to absorb the different kinds of foods. Olive oil facilitates an increase in the metabolic activity. Research has reported a proven decrease in the formation of gallstones in patients with chronic problems. Similarly, long-term ulcer suffers reported a significant decrease in ulcers after consuming olive oil in their normal diet. Using olive oil for a long period can releases antioxidants in the body that prevent cancer-generating chemicals.
To summarize, olive oil is nature’s best-kept secrets. Its benefits and utility go beyond centuries. It is time we in the East woke up to this ‘liquid gold’ and capitalised on its benefits. Go for it, use olive oil, give a gift to your heart and get that glow back on your face.