Since the earliest days in humankind’s documented history, the olive tree has been glorified for its amazing health benefits. You can even find it mentioned in ancient religious texts, including the Bible’s Book of Genesis and the Koran, the sacred text of Islam. It’s also extremely likely that the olive tree was utilized even before the written language was invented. Why? Let’s take a closer look at the olive tree’s components – particularly its leaves and the olive leaf oil derived from them – to better understand why this magnificent tree lives up to all the hype.
Brief History of the Olive Tree
The olive tree (Olea europaea) is a small tree (some might even call it a shrub) that originated in the coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean, tropical and central Asia, and various parts of Africa. It grows best in a seaside climates that are rich in chalky soil, which is why you’ll often see olive trees growing on the sides of mountains plush with limestone.
Olive trees need a long hot growing season to properly ripen the fruit and a mild winter to protect their branches from freeze damage. The ancient Greeks found all parts of the tree to be useful and began farming it as one of their main crops. The wood is hard and has been used to make furniture, and its branches are widely known throughout history as a symbol of peace.
In addition, the olive tree’s fruit and leaves are highly regarded for having high concentrations of oleuropein, a phenolic compound that is believed to have many potential health benefits.
Oleuropein: The Olive Tree’s Secret Weapon
Oleuropein is a bitter phenolic compound that naturally occurs in olive fruit and olive leaves. Its pungence is what gives extra-virgin olive oil that powerful bitter taste. The stronger, the better because this compound can do amazing things for your health. In some studies, it is shown to help maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels already in the normal range. In addition, it can help support a healthy metabolism and can be used as a good preventative measure for general health and wellness. Users also recommend it for the support of healthy skin appearance and tone.
Olive Oil vs. Olive Leaf Oil
Olive oil and olive leaf oil are not the same thing; however, they are both highly sought after because they both contain relevant amounts of oleuropein. Olive oil is derived from the fruit of the olive tree, while olive leaf oil is extracted from its leaves. Olive oil is most commonly used in cooking due to its pleasant taste, which is great because medical professionals and natural health enthusiasts encourage its consumption as part of a healthy diet.
There are many advantages to taking an olive leaf oil supplement in addition to consuming olive oil in your diet. The biggest is that it allows you to increase your daily intake of oleuropein without having to consume large amounts of olive oil daily. It’s important to look for a high quality olive leaf oil extract that has been processed without the use of solvents or chemicals.
Here are a few of our favorites:
- Olive Leaf Complex from Barlean’s Organic Oils – This high quality liquid oil supplement is great because you can get your full daily dose in one tablespoon. For your convenience, this brand also comes in softgels.
- Nature’s Answer Olive Leaf from Nature’s Answer – This olive leaf oil can be dropped into food or beverages twice daily.
- Olive Leaf Extract Cleansing Bar from East Park Research – Olive leaf extract is great for your skin too! Try this bar soap to help support healthy-looking skin, cleanse away free radicals, and promote elasticity and healthy aging.
For more information on adding olive leaf oil to your daily routine and the potential health benefits it may provide, we recommend this book from East Park Research.
How has olive leaf oil improved your healthy lifestyle? Tell us your story in the comments below!