Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a Holistic Sense
Extra virgin olive oil has been the most important culinary ingredient and remedy for Mediterranean inhabitants since ancient times, constituting the backbone of the Mediterranean Diet. Named by Homer as “Liquid Gold” and by Hippocrates as the “Great Healer”, it is considered the healthiest fat on earth thanks to its remarkable composition, rich in antioxidants, fatty acids, vitamins…and much more. We could say that it is the only liquid, not counting water, that accompanies many people around the world during all the days of their lives. In short, we are looking at Mother Nature’s greatest gift to all humanity. A truly holistic elixir whose ultimate goal is our well-being.
If extra virgin olive oil is really such a valuable food, why has it not yet received the glory and recognition it deserves? We must admit that, during the last decade, the situation of the olive oil sector has improved a lot. Companies, producers, chefs and consumers have begun to focus increasingly on the quality of EVOO and on understanding the uniqueness of each of its different varieties. But, if we consider the figures for world consumption of olive oil in comparison with those of its production, we can definitely say that we still have a long way to go.
To really understand the complexity of this product, we must focus on its holistic dimension. Olive oil is the most holistic product that exists in the kitchen since it covers all the dimensions of the human being: the body, the mind and the soul. For those who are not familiar with this term, “holism” comes from the Greek word “όλος” (holos) which means "all, whole, entire". It represents the idea that the elements, whether physical, biological, or social, should be seen as a whole and not simply as the sum of their parts. Hippocrates considered the “father of medicine”, was the first holistic physician, philosopher and teacher who, as early 2500 years
ago, argued that all diseases have a rational physical explanation and that the body should be treated as a whole and not as a series of members separated from each other. He practiced medicine from a patient-centered rather than a disease-oriented approach and created customized treatments based on the patient’s emotional state, lifestyle, season and even the microclimate of the place they resided at the time of their illness. This meant that even if two patients had the same symptoms, they would receive different treatments.
Hippocrates firmly believed in the healing power of nature so he experimented and created hundreds of recipes from herbs and oils. However, only olive oil earned the nickname “Great Healer” because, according to him, it could cure most disorders. His holistic approach to health, beauty and well-being is a legacy that continues to inspire physicians, holistic professionals, naturopaths and well-being coaches around the world. “Prevention is better than cure” and “let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food” are Hippocratic quotes that, more than two millennia later, continue to set the trend today.
Self-care, the art of taking care of yourself to avoid getting ill
Extra virgin olive oil is the ultimate product for so-called “self-care”. It is the perfect ally for health, beauty and well-being, completely affecting our existence in all its dimensions:
Some experts define olive oil as “the standard in preventive medicine”, and they are right, considering its innumerable health benefits.
EVOO benefits our body in the following way:
· Strengthens the immune system
· Keeps the heart youthful, preventing atherosclerosis
· Reduces the risk of type II diabetes
· Controls blood sugar levels
· Contributes to improving the health of the colon and intestinal microbes
· Promotes bone health, fighting osteoporosis and slowing the progression of osteoarthritis
· Helps prevent many types of cancer
· Reduces inflammation
· Helps alleviate constipation
· Alleviates the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
· Combats premature aging of the skin and internal organs due to its rich composition of antioxidants, which help prevent cell damage caused by free radicals (oxidative stress)
· It is an exceptional beauty product to firm skin and nails, as well as to moisturize, soften and revitalize hair
Our mind also feeds on the positive effects of EVOO:
· Promotes brain health, improving our memory
· Helps prevent strokes
· Increases the processing speed of the brain
· Protects the nervous system and can help treat anxiety and dementia
· May protect the brain from degenerative diseases (for example, EVOO rich in oleocanthal is able to delay the progression of Alzheimer’s disease up to 40%)
· Decreases the risk of depression