Is there one aroma that takes you back to your childhood?
For me the answer is simple — it’s the delicious smell of fresh garlic sizzling in olive oil.
My love for cooking (and healing with food) grew from my Italian roots. My grandparents started teaching me kitchen basics when I was 10 years old! That’s how important they believed food was.
And the one key ingredient to nearly everything they made was olive oil. Not only does fresh olive oil add incredible flavor, but it also has tremendous health benefits — and you can bet that our ancestors knew it.
My grandparents both lived into their mid-nineties, and they always looked far younger than they were. If you asked them what their secret was, they’d tell you plenty of garlic, leafy greens and, you guessed it, olive oil.
This isn’t just an old wives tale — when you break olive oil down into its chemical compounds, you find that the monosaturated fats strengthen your skin cells to fight sun damage. It’s also been proven that the vitamin D and E keep the skin super moist and devoid of wrinkles!
Did you know… that simple olive oil is likely one of the oldest natural medicines!
Olive trees originated in the Mediterranean basin some 6,000 years ago. Olive trees flower in late-spring and later yields their olives, but it takes at least 15 years for the plant to completely mature. Once they are full-grown, they grow an abundance of olives for decades, even centuries!
Since each little olive contains only a fraction of oil, it takes about 200 olives to make the 4 cups of olive oil we see in green-tinted bottles.
The intricate process of harvesting and processing the olives is the reason that olive oil was so treasured in the ancient world. In 3,000 BC on the island of Crete, olive oil was a sign of wealth. It was used as an anointing oil by holy men, conquerors, and kings.
It wasn’t really until Hippocrates began using olive oil as a base for topical healing that people began to view olive oil as a medicine, and not just a sacred spiritual substance. Healers continued to test olive oil and found that it was useful for sore throats and could take on additional healing properties by infusing herbs, veggies, and fruits into the oil over time.
Fast forward thousands of years to today — not only is olive oil a time-tested and classic essential in culinary herbalism, scientists are proving its ability to heal!
A key longevity food…
Researchers began studying olive oil when the Mediterranean diet became popular. They noticed that Italians, Greeks, and Spaniards – groups that consumed high amounts of olive oil – had lower rates of heart issues, neurodegenerative disorders, and strokes.
Olive oil has strong medicinal benefits that can be traced back to its abundance of antioxidants which help fight off free radicals that if not eliminated, can lead to inflammation and serious illnesses like hypertension.
One study in Barcelona, Spain revealed significant evidence that regularly cooking with olive oil dramatically decreases the likelihood of developing high cholesterol. They determined that olive oil reduces inflammation along with the tissues that line your blood vessels, which keeps your blood pressure steady and strong.
Another study done in France confirmed this — these scientists found that having olive oil every day decreases the possibility of stroke by boosting ‘good’ cholesterol and preventing the formation of blood clots.
Not all olive oils are created equal.
Take supermarket olive oils. They can sit on store shelves for many months, even years, growing dull, stale, even rancid.
Olive oil can oxidize rapidly and form harmful compounds if you’re not careful. It’s healthiest and most delicious when stored in a light-proof vessel, whether that be the dark green glass bottles that you’ve probably seen or a high-quality metal container.
*You may have seen it reported recently that many supermarket olive oils are counterfeits and could even contain harmful ingredients.
My grandparents always steered clear of these shady “olive oils,” knowing well that they likely had none of the healing benefits that come with the true, fresh olive oil of their homeland. Instead, they’d go for the good stuff. My grandparents used this healing remedy every day, in almost every meal – and they lived to be 97 years old!
3 Tips To Get The Most Out Of Your Olive Oil:
- Extra Virgin is the highest quality – created from 100% cold-pressed olives, with no processed oils added to it. It also tends be higher in antioxidants and the good fats. Always get Extra Virgin if possible!
- Check the harvest date – Olive oil is best when consumed within the first 2 years of being bottled. Most bottles will tell you the harvest date, so make sure your batch was born in that period.
- Use it uncooked — I love cooking with olive oil over flame, but it’s even better when you add it to cold or recently plated foods (for example, add it to your hot veggies after they’ve been cooked). Uncooked olive oil retains more of its health benefits and it has twice as much flavor!
The kitchen is a sacred place in my house, and it’s been that way for generations. If the preparation and enjoyment of delicious healing foods is something you hold dear — then knowing the lineage and unique character of your ingredients is an absolute must.
It’ll take your experience (and the flavors you create) to the next level!
Host of Remedy: Ancient Medicine for Modern Illness
& Founder of The Sacred Science