We were once approached by a fitness enthusiast who, despite leading a healthy lifestyle, was tired all the time. She was very particular about her diet and exercise - it seemed like she was doing everything right, until we got around to the cooking oil she used. She used vegetable oil because of its neutral taste; her children didn’t like the taste of olive oil. She also believed vegetable oil was healthier because of its role in improving heart health.
Had she come to us a few years earlier, we might have commended her on her awareness about the benefits of vegetable oil over olive oil. But we knew better.
What is Olive Oil?
Olive oil is produced by crushing olive fruit in granite millstones or stainless steel hammermills into a paste, and separating the natural oils from the olive pulp. This process yields cold pressed extra virgin olive oil. The high quality olive oil, produced from green olives harvested at their peak ripeness, does not need to undergo refinement , giving extra virgin olive oil its unique name. Lower quality oil, on the other hand, is refined to eliminate the slightly bitter after-taste and is commonly known as ‘light’ or pure ‘olive oil’. Olive oil is commonly stored in tinted glass bottles to preserve the product from degradation as it has a short shelf life to start with.
Its competitor - vegetable oil - is extracted from a blend of fats present in multiple plant sources such as sunflower, corn, canola, soy or safflower, and is typically processed to enhance its shelf life, which decreases its nutrient density and flavor profile. This is why vegetable oil has a neutral flavor, perfect for frying if you need the food’s actual flavor to shine through.
This difference in the extraction process, as well as the countless health benefits it provides, is reflected in the hike in price of the product!
Benefits of Olive Oil:
Now we know that olive oil is comparatively healthier than vegetable oil. However, that’s not all and the oil boasts a wide range of uses from use in the kitchen to healthcare and skincare benefits:
Olive oil has been a staple in the Mediterranean diet for hundreds of years because it is rich in dietary fats that provide numerous benefits for heart health.
Extra virgin olive oil is considered to be the healthiest type of oil because its the least processed and contains modest amounts of beneficial fatty acids. The less processed an oil is, the more concentrated its nutrient profile. Recent studies show that extra virgin olive oil could possibly help against the risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes and other heart diseases. It can also help with rheumatoid arthritis. Moreover, the antioxidants in olive oil can reduce oxidative damage due to free radicals, which is believed to be the leading driver of cancer.
Skin Care Benefits:
Oil has been used on skin since ancient times and even Cleopatra was a fan - sources say that the Queen of the Nile used it in her hair and under her eyes to reduce stretch marks. Olive oil is also an occlusive emollient that creates a protective layer over the outermost layer of your skin, which helps with water loss during the night and keeps your skin’s moisture locked in. Occlusives protect the skin by creating a physical barrier on it and preventing water loss, whereas emollients are moisturizing ingredients that soften the skin and decrease inflammation. Olive oil also contains antioxidant properties that can help fight free-radical damage, as well as a skin-mimicking oil called Squalene, which is extremely hydrating.
However, direct application of olive oil is discouraged as it could break down the skin’s protective barrier leading to mild or moderate redness. It is safe when formulated in skincare products and soaps, and may act as hyaluronic acid - a known skin plumper in anti-aging products. The most common use of olive oil is in oil cleansers that help remove makeup and sunscreen, while making sure your natural skin oils aren’t stripped away in the process!
Olive oil is rich in oleic acid, which is most suitable for individuals with dry skin. Due to its high oleic acid content, it is perfect for use on dry, brittle nails or cracked heels to bring them back to life!
Hair Care Benefits:
Your hair deserves as much TLC as your skin, after all that dyeing, cutting, and heat-styling. Damaged hair requires thorough deep conditioning and olive oil is perfect for that matter.
You could massage a few drops of oil directly into your scalp if you have a dry scalp, or the ends of your hair to treat those split ends. This oil is truly a one-for-all! Rinse away the oil with warm water and follow it up with your regular shampoo for silky, smooth hair
Olive oil will moisturize your hair, potentially promoting hair growth as well. However, make sure to start off with only a few drops as it can easily make your hair greasy.
Olive Oil in Cooking:
Its high smoke point (400 degrees F or higher) makes it ideal for frying. According to a review published in 2017, frying foods in olive oil can help maintain and even improve it’s nutritional value. However, due to olive oil’s pungent taste, it might overpower the original taste of the food being fried. This is why it works best when used for sauteing or as a salad dress. The slightly bitter after-taste makes olive oil a unique condiment.
Need some inspiration for your next dish incorporating olive oil? We’ve got a few suggestions; you could try this Basic Vinaigrette to go with your salads or as a bread dip, this easy Pantry Pasta for your main course, or this Olive Oil Cake for dessert. Don’t trust us, trust Claire Saffitz and her taste buds - these taste heavenly!
Palestine - The Land of the Olives
Now you might ask - if olive oil is so good, then why is it not more widely available? Well, olive oil is also very expensive and not as readily available because most olives grow along the Mediterranean coast and have to be imported all the way from there. Moreover, a lot of olives are required to produce olive oil; 10 kilograms of olives only produce about 1 kilogram of olive oil. The opportunity cost here is high too, as the olives could be fermented and sold as food instead, which would’ve been profitable too. Thus, if you live anywhere away from the Mediterranean, chances are your olive oil is either imported or the olive fruit is imported and the oil is cold-pressed near you.
For Palestine, located in the eastern Mediterranean region and also known as the land of the olives, this is not a problem. Olive trees thrive in the Mediterranean climate. The harvesting usually begins in August and lasts through November, depending on the desired level of ripeness. This is usually the time for locals to gather and participate in the harvesting; you can choose to climb the trees or work on the ground. The process is about feeding people and sharing food and stories, it is about hospitality and is followed by an Olive Harvesting Festival in which locals and visitors enjoy dances, music, and indulge in the celebration of the olive tree and its significance to the Palestinian lifestyle and culture.
The fruit is then sold locally or prepared for exportation. Since the olive is essentially a fruit, its shelf life is limited and this needs to be considered when preparing for its exportation. Contrary to popular belief, oils can go rancid; extra virgin olive oil has an average shelf life of 18-24 months, unopened, and should be consumed within 6 months of opening the bottle.
As already discussed, the more processing an oil undergoes, the fewer nutrients it maintains. Olive oil is only extracted from pressed olives, whereas vegetable oil is extracted from different sources (such as canola, sunflower, soybean, etc.). This means that more processing is required before it is fit for consumption. As a result, you can expect lower nutritional value from vegetable oil as compared to olive oil.
Extra virgin olive oil is the least processed type of olive oil, which is why it is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. In contrast, the refining process that vegetable oils undergo destroys nutrients, antioxidants, and beneficial plant compounds.
What about the difference in prices? As of 31st October 2021, the price of olive oil stands at a whopping $4,366.58 per metric ton in the global markets. Meanwhile, the price of vegetable oil is only $175.70 per metric ton in the global markets. The difference between the prices of the two oils is substantial, but so is the difference between the benefits they offer and their favour profiles. While olive oil maintains its slightly bitter flavor, vegetable oil is completely tasteless, which makes it perfect for recipes where you need to incorporate an oil without disrupting it’s original flavor.
Why should you be consuming HLD Olive Oil?
Olive oil should be chosen very wisely. If it is the benefits of antioxidants that you're after, you should opt for Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Its lack of processing allows for a richer product that delivers countless benefits.
Holy Land Dates deals in only the most premium, authentic, extra virgin olive oil. It is cold pressed from olives harvested from a few of the oldest olive trees in the world at Palestine, providing for a more pronounced flavor to elevate your dish. Our extra virgin olive oil is free of any preservatives or additives, evident from it’s minimal ingredients list to give you the very best product from the “home” of the olive trees. We use ancient traditions and age-old farming techniques to guarantee ideal, high quality olives for the finest extra virgin olive oil.
HLD provides you with an opportunity to give back to the community by buying from small businesses and supporting families and businesses in Palestine with 50% of all net profits going towards helping vulnerable children all over the world.