There is no family context where the healthy virtues of olive oil have never been brought up. ‘Have some olive oil, it’s good for you,’ was the exhortation often heard, above all if it involved improving one’s health. ‘A teaspoon of oil in the morning will keep you fit.’ It only took these suggestions to calm the soul and – it can be said – settle the stomach.
From another point of view, as it is obtained from olives, which is a fruit, oil is therefore nutritionally better. Above all, we have to admit, as it is obtained from a fruit, it has its own advantages.
Nature, as a system of self-defence, provides the fruit with the weapons needed to survive adversity. A number of antioxidants are accumulated in the fruit, helping to protect it from external agents that could in some manner threaten its integrity. In contrast, this does not happen with the seed, as it is found within the fruit and is, consequently, protected. For this reason, seed oils, while nutritionally valid, are not comparable to olive oils. This a fact of nature, not marketing.
The antioxidants present in the fruit are there, explicitly, to defend the olives. The trees generate the substances that provide these self-defence mechanisms. Once the olives are brought to the mill to be pressed and the oil collected oil, these same substances found in the fruit – so many that over two hundred have been identified – are then passed to the extracted oil within which they then, in turn, play the same protective role. Because of these molecules, the oil has a longer life and also resists the high temperatures of cooking. The same antioxidants, once inside the body, also perform the same preventative and defensive actions. It is a magnificent system and for this reason nature proves to be flawless in its dynamics.
The antioxidants present in the olives, and subsequently in the oil present in the fruit, not only protect, but also exercise a preventive role. It is no coincidence that olive oil is like a functional food, as well as a nutraceutical, meaning a food that expresses both its identity as a nutrient and, at the same time, that of a ‘medication’. However, in order to avoid misunderstandings, olive oil, as well as any other food, should not to be considered a medicine. But it is certainly a ‘preventive medicine’. In other words, to be more explicit, olive oil, in turn, serves to prevent the onset of illness, though of course, this only occurs in a favourable context, where one leads an active and healthy life, with a lot of exercise, as well as being sure to eat a good and balanced diet. […]
This text is taken from chapter 4 of the book “Oil is the history of the family” written by Cristina e Federico Santagata on the occasion of the 110 years of their company and pubblished by Olio Officina Edizioni.