Olive trees may be any member of the Olea genus, which contains about 40 species. The most commercially important of these species is Olea europaea, commonly known as the European olive. The olive tree originated from the eastern Mediterranean Coast, including modern day Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Turkey. They are also commercially cultivated in many subtropical regions throughout the world.
The cultivation of olive trees is at least 5,000 years old. Their primary commercial value is the oil, which is mechanically extracted from the fruit. Olive oil is primarily used as a cooking oil and is the primary cooking oil in the Mediterranean region. It is used as the base for salad dressing and is an important ingredient in other foods. Olive oil also has many uses in cosmetics, especially skincare products.
The raw fruit of the olive tree is naturally very bitter and requires processing before it can be eaten. The typical method of preparing olives for consumption consists of soaking them for up to 10 hours in a weak solution of lye. The olives are then rinsed and soaked in a salt solution, where they are allowed to ferment slightly.
The leaves of the olive tree also have commercial value, primarily as a health supplement. Oleuropein is one of the most active components in olive leaves, which has antioxidant properties. These properties help to support cells from damage by free radicals, which are highly reactive ions in the presence of oxygen. Free radicals can react with cellular components to form unstable compounds, especially in the cellular membranes. Laboratory studies show that oleuropein also has many other beneficial effects.
One of the most common reasons for taking olive leaf extract (OLE) is for support of the cardiovascular system. The oleuropein in OLE also supports the immune system, and helps support healthy circulation.
OLE may support the immune system by inhibiting the production of amino acids required by many viruses.
A study from the University of Granada showed that oleuropein may help to support healthy circulation by promoting the relaxation of the arterial walls.
Oleuropein may help support a healthy blood cholesterol profile, according to a study at the University of Milan. This study found that oleuropein may inhibit the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL).
A compromised immune system is one of the most significant signs that you may need olive leaf extract. This condition often results in chronic, debilitating illnesses that never resolve themselves. You may also benefit from olive leaf if a cold or flu is going around at work.
Additional signs of a weak immune system include at least one bout of illness each winter and chronic fatigue. An unhealthy blood pressure is also a sign that you could benefit from taking olive leaf extract.
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