The olive tree appeared in the Mediterranean area thousands of years ago and from there it spread to the surrounding countries.
It is believed that from the Neolithic Age in the Aegean world edible fruits included the collection of wild olives. After all, the oldest samples of olive pollen that we have and which come from Crete and Boeotia date back to the end of the Neolithic Age.
In Nisyros, Kymi and Santorini, fossilized races of European Elea dating back 50,000 years were found.
Greek mythology mentions the olive as the gift of the goddess Athena, when there was a competition between her and the god Poseidon for which of the two would give his name to the city. According to mythology, Poseidon struck the sacred rock of the Acropolis with his trident and immediately a wave of salty water sprang up, which was later called the Erechthean sea. When Athena struck the sacred rock with her staff, an olive tree sprang up, full of fruit, which was seen as a promise of glory and prosperity to the city.
Since ancient times, the olive tree appears in the myths, performances and history of the people in the countries where it grows. The olive has always been a symbol of prosperity, peace, fertility and euphoria. To understand the social importance of the olive we must remember that in ancient Greece the winners of the Olympic games were crowned with an olive wreath and received olive oil as a gift.
The Greek people identified themselves with the olive tree and olive oil from a very early age. It was linked with many manifestations of life and it was a key element of social, economic and artistic expression, inventing more and more techniques for its use. They soon discovered its medicinal properties and its use as a cosmetic and even today it is still used in many beauty products.
The olive tree is considered a blessed tree and nothing from it is wasted. Today, in addition to the fruit, wood and leaves of the olive tree, but also the waste from the processing of the olive fruit can be used industrially.
The olive tree has very hard wood, difficult to work but easy to sand, and is increasingly used to make utilitarian objects. Many objects described in the myths and legends of Mediterranean people are made of olive wood such as: the club of Hercules, the bed of Odysseus and the statue of the goddess Athena in the Parthenon.
nutritional characteristics of oils
Depending on their size, 5 small olives or 3 large ones give 45 calories and are equivalent to a teaspoon of olive oil. It is also a good source of monounsaturated fatty acids.
They are rich in nutrients and compete with pure virgin olive oil. They contain significant amounts of vitamin A and carotenoids and in small amounts vitamins B1, B6 and B12.Black olives are richer in total tocopherols than green olives and are the only ones that contain β-tocopherols and α-tocotrienols. The trace elements of the oils are potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron and magnesium, while those preserved in brine contain large amounts of sodium.
Because of vitamin A, they help the body in growth-reproduction, vision, skin and have an anti-cancer effect, while tocopherols have antioxidant properties and anti-cancer effects. Monounsaturated fatty acids strengthen the functioning of the cardio-respiratory system and protect us from cardiovascular diseases. Those who suffer from hypertension should be careful with their consumption because of the sodium (in those kept in brine).
Olives lag behind pure virgin olive oil only in terms of their vitamin E content, of which they contain a negligible amount. However, with their consumption, they ensure sufficient antioxidant protection in the body, as they have a relatively high content of carotenoids and mainly beta-carotene (provitamin A). Therefore, they can be part of an anti-aging diet, which not only prolongs the youth of the skin, but at the same time acts as an antidote to degenerative diseases or so-called degenerative diseases, which include heart disease, various forms of cancer and type 2 diabetes 2.
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