Over 750 million olive trees are cultivated worldwide and 95% of them in the Mediterranean basin and especially in the EU countries. 70% of the world oil production and 30% of the edible olive production is made in EU.
The European Union is however also the largest consumer in the world: more than 54% of oil and 23% of table olives in the world is on the European consumers table!
In Cyprus, the unique microclimate and the excellent versatility of the olive tree in the climatic conditions are the main reasons why nearly 40% of cropland is represented by olive groves!
The olive and olive oil are therefore for us, the Europeans, lifestyle and daily component of our diet. The nutritional value of the fruit of the olive tree (olea europeana) and the olive oil - the natural juice resulting from the mechanical processing of the fruit- is absolutely enormous. For this reason, these are considered the base of the most recognized worldwide nutritional model: the Mediterranean diet.
The fruit of the olive tree is a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids and vitamin E, while it is also an excellent source of nutrient mineral elements such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and selenium. It contains, as well, few carbohydrates representing a high sodium source.
It also has in high percentage a polyphenol ingredient, the oleuropein, the content of which is greater in the immature olives and the intensely bitter taste comes mainly from this substance.
Because of the bitter taste, the olive fruit usually is not consumed directly and must undergo a series of processing procedures in order to be ready for our table. These procedures vary according to the time of year, from region to region and from variety to variety.
The oil is superior to other vegetable oils as for the nutritional and dietary value. It keeps all components of fresh olives, like vitamins, flavor and taste, contains little saturated and more unsaturated fatty acids and very easily digestible by the body. It is the only vegetable oil that remains stable at high temperatures during frying, without suffering alterations or creating toxic substances.
Enjoy olives and olive oil daily!