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The World's Oldest Living Olive Tree

The World's Oldest Living Olive Tree – the (ελιά) Elia, meaning Olive.

In the village of Ano Vouves near Chania, Crete Greece is probably the world’s oldest living olive tree.

 This magnificent and ancient tree is estimated to be 3,000 and 4,000 years old, and although its exact age cannot be precisely verified, an international team of Dendrologists (tree experts) and Agronomists, both concur it is an ancient marvel.  This tree would have grown approximately in 1100BC, during the sub-Minoan timeline of Cretan history.

 The ancient (Elia Vouvon) has a trunk circumference of 12.5 meters (41 feet) and 4.6 meters (15 feet). It belonged to the local variety of Tsounati and grafted at the height of 3 meters onto a wild olive tree.

 Due to grafting and over time, the trunk shaped by nature now resembles a sculpture. The tree was declared a natural living monument in 1997 and much like The Acropolis is now a protected site. During the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2008 Beijing Olympics, branches from this ancient relic were used for the victors’ wreaths.

 The fruits of this evergreen olive tree produce the best olive oil globally, making the cradle of olive cultivation on Crete's island. The tree's trunk is hollow as there is no heartwood, so the tree branches growing outward and the heartwood gradually rots away.

 It is estimated 20,000 tourists from all over the planet visit this stunning tree every summer.  People are awestruck at its enormous shape and size and its history and are most impressed by the fact that this tree is still producing amazing olives for over 3,000 years - never pausing once, during it’s lifespan.

 The entire hill on which several villages are situated, have thousands of olive trees including this historic tree. The villages widely believe they are still producing the best olive oil in the world.

Health Benefits Olive Oil

What is Olive Oil?

Olive oil comes from the fruit of the olive tree—the traditional crop of the Mediterranean region. People make olive oil by pressing whole olives. People use olive oil in cooking, cosmetics, medicine, soaps, and fuel for traditional lamps. 

Olive oil originally came from the Mediterranean, but today, it is famous around the world. In the diet, people preserve olives in olive oil or salted water. They eat them whole or chopped and added to pizzas and other dishes. They can use olive oil a dip for bread, for drizzling on pasta, in cooking, or as a salad dressing. Some people consume it by the spoonful for medicinal purposes.

Olive oil is a significant component of the Mediterranean diet. It is rich in antioxidants. The central fat contains monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which experts consider a healthful fat.

The antioxidants in olive oil may help protect the body from cellular damage, leading to various health conditions and diseases. Extra virgin olive oil has a bitter flavour, but it contains more antioxidants than other types, as it undergoes the least processing.

 Many studies have looked at the health benefits of olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil, which is the best quality oil available, is rich in antioxidants, which help prevent cellular damage caused by molecules called free radicals. Free radicals are substances that the body produces during metabolism and other processes. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals. If too many free radicals build up, they can cause oxidative stress, which can lead to cell damage, and it may play a role in developing certain diseases, including certain types of cancer.

Olive oil and the cardiovascular system

Olive oil is the primary Source of fat in the Mediterranean diet. People who consume this diet appear to have a higher life expectancy, including a lower chance of dying from cardiovascular diseases than people who follow other diets.

A study compared cardiovascular events among people who consumed a Mediterranean diet, either with olive oil or nuts, or a low-fat diet. People who consumed the Mediterranean diet, whether with olive oil or nuts, had a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease than those on the low-fat diet. According to the Food Safety Authority, consuming around 20 grams (g) or two tablespoons (tbs) of extra virgin olive oil each day reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and inflammation.

Olive oil and Metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a condition characterized by a group of risk factors that increase disease risk, including obesity, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar levels.

A meta-analysis concluded that olive oil in a Mediterranean diet might improve features of metabolic syndromes, such as inflammation, blood sugar, triglycerides (fats in the blood), and low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad" cholesterol. In contrast, it appears to increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol.

Olive oil and Depression risk 

 Ingredients in extra virgin olive oil may help protect the nervous system and help treat depression and anxiety. That people who ate trans fats, which is an unhealthful fat that features in fast foods and premade baked goods, were more likely to have depression than those who consumed unsaturated fats, such as olive oil.

Olive oil and cancer risk

Some studies have suggested that olive oil substances may help reduce breast cancer risk, but not all findings confirm this.

According to research, olive oil contains substances that may help prevent colorectal cancer. Lab tests have found evidence that antioxidants in olive oil may help protect the body from inflammation, oxidative damage, and epigenetic changes.

Olive oil and Alzheimer's disease

Including extra virgin olive oil in the diet may help prevent Alzheimer's disease. May be due to its protective impact on blood vessels in the brain.

 Consuming oleocanthal-rich extra virgin olive oil could help slow or stop the progression of Alzheimer's. Oleocanthal is a phenolic compound that occurs in extra virgin olive oil.

Olive oil and the liver

 Extra virgin olive oil molecules may help prevent or repair liver damage.

The oil's MUFAs, mainly oleic acid and its phenolic compounds appear to help prevent inflammation, oxidative stress, insulin resistance, and other changes that can result in liver damage.

Olive oil and inflammatory bowel disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) causes inflammation of the digestive tract. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease are types of IBD.

A review found that phenols in olive oil may boost intestinal immunity and gut health by changing the gut microbes. Could be useful for people with colitis and other types of IBD. 

Olive Oil and Eye Health

Extra virgin olive oil well researched for its antioxidant properties for maintaining good health. Researches have found a way to add another antioxidant, especially beneficial for good eye health, to extra virgin olive oil. Lutein is a carotenoid found in green leafy vegetables—lutein and zeaxanthin found in the eye's retina and macula. 

Research has shown that lutein may help to prevent or reduce the severity of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) of the eyes. AMD is a disease that mainly affects seniors, as aging is the leading risk for developing it. AMD causes a deterioration of the macula, found in the retina of the eye.

Olive Oil and Osteoporosis

Skeletal degeneration, due to aging, also known as osteoporosis, is a significant health problem worldwide. Specific dietary components confer protection to our skeletal system against osteoporosis. Consumption of olives, olive oil and olive polyphenols have shown to improve bone health.

 Supplementation of olives, olive oil or olive polyphenols could improve skeletal health assessed via bone mineral density, bone biomechanical strength and bone turnover. The beneficial effects of olive oil and olive polyphenols have to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. 

 Daily consumption of olive oil could prevent the decline in bone mineral density and improve bone turnover markers. In conclusion, olives, olive oil, and polyphenols are potential dietary interventions to prevent osteoporosis among the elderly.

 

Olive Oil and Your Skin

Olive oil does have some reported benefits to the skin. According to the International Olive Council, olive oil has many vitamins, including A, D, and K, and vitamin E. Olive oil is also an antioxidant, so it might help prevent or reverse damage from cancer-causing ultraviolet radiation. 

It has a very high concentration of an ingredient called squalene compared to the other types of fats and oils humans usually eat. The squalene is what gives olive oil the extra antioxidant boost.

If you're prone to acne, using a soap made with olive oil may help decrease your acne by killing off the bacteria that causes the acne. Olive oil is also known to moisturize and hydrate your skin.

 

Conclusion

Olive oil is a storehouse of properties. It has many benefits for overall health. Whether it is for weight loss, reduces the risk of cancer, for healthier skin or hair. Quality extra virgin olive oil is incredibly beneficial. Due to its powerful antioxidants, it benefits your heart, brain, joints and more. It may be the healthiest fat on the planet.

“O Love! What hours were thine and mine, In lands of palm and southern pine; In lands of palm, of orange-blossom, Of olive, aloe and maize and vine!”

 1st stanza from the poem; The Daisy

by the great British Poet Laureate - Alfred, Lord Tennyson 1809-1892