1. The olive tree is native to the Mediterranean area. Olive oil has been produced since as early as 4000 BC.
2. Historically, olive oil is not just a food. It has been used (and often still is) for medicine, lamp fuel, soap, skin care, and hair care.
3. Olive oil is primarily monounsaturated fatty acids. This means that it is considered a healthy dietary fat as long as you use it in place of other fats and not in addition to them.
4. As a monounsaturated fatty acid, olive oil has been shown to lower levels of cholesterol and low-density lipoproteins. Monounsaturated fatty acids may also help normalize blood clotting.
5. The majority of olive oil is produced in Europe. Spain is the largest producer, followed by Italy and Greece. Check the labels on olive oil to see where the oil comes from. In the United States olive oil is produced in California, Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Florida, Oregon, and Hawaii.
6. Olive oil is the base of the Mediterranean diet, which is a way of eating based on the traditional food of that region. It is a diet that emphasizes eating primarily plant-based foods like whole grains and vegetables, and replacing butter with healthy oils like olive oil.
7. Olive oil production begins with harvesting the olives. The olives are washed and then crushed mechanically into a paste. This paste is then put into a press and squeezed to express the oil. The highest grade oils are produced within 24 hours after harvest. Variety and maturation are two of the most important factors that influence the quality and taste of olive oil.
8. The term virgin means the oil was processed by the use of mechanical means only, with no chemicals used to extract the oil from the paste.
9. In addition to extra-virgin olive oil, lower grades of olive oil included virgin olive oil, refined olive oil and olive pomace oil.
10. A wide range of olive varieties are used in the production of olive oil, including: Mission, Manzanillo, Sevillano, Arbequina, Koroneiki, Arbosana, Ascolano, Frantoio, Leccino, Pendolino, Maurino, and Coratina.