The olive as a superfood – fruit, pits and leaves
Andalusia produces one-third of olive oil produced in Spain, but there is more to these ancient trees than olives and its finest and healthiest "liquid gold". We show how olive trees can help the environment and even fight colds helping keeping good health.
What’s an olive tree like?
The official name for the olive tree is Olea Europae, and they have been grown in Spain since the Phoenicians brought them from the eastern Mediterranean in around 1000 BC. Short, tough trees which need little water, they produce better fruit in rough, rocky soil than in rich, fertile earth. Not only olive trees are beautiful to look at, with gnarly trunks and small, silvery-green-grey leaves, but also the beautiful landscapes of extensive olive groves in Andalusia.
Varieties of olives in Andalusia
Spain produces more than 250 varieties of olives, for table eating and for pressing into olive oil. Andalusia, where La Española has its olive groves and factory, accounts for three-quarters of Spain’s olive oil production.
One of the most famous Spanish olive varieties is hojiblanca, which accounts for 15 % of Andalusia’s crop, mostly in Málaga, Seville, Córdoba and Granada provinces. In Seville province, lechín de Sevilla is also popular for blending with other varieties to make oil. But the most widely grown in Spain – half of the total crop – is picual, which is grown throughout Andalusia, with the vast majority of olive groves in Jaén province growing this variety.
Olive is an eco-friendly tree - it can help in the fight against climate change. Olive trees help protect against desertification and erosion, what is specially essential in a hot, dry area such as Andalusia, as well as removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. According to research, in the production of 1 litre of olive oil, olive trees remove 10 kg of CO2 from the atmosphere.
Leaves and seeds too
We know about the amazing health properties of olive oil – but even olive tree leaves can help fight colds and flu too! A natural supplement of olive leaf contains elenolic acid, an extract which able to protect the immune system.
Other by-products include olive seeds – these are extracted from the fruit’s stones, or pits, and contain high amounts of dietary fibre, as well as antioxidants and polyphenols (which protect the cells of body from free radical damage, reducing the appearance of aging). The olive seeds can be used as toppings, like other seeds, and can also be ground into flour.
So now you know – the traditional olive tree that produces the wondrous fruit whose nutritious juice you love to use in your cooking, has many other uses and benefits too. With 175 million olive trees in Andalusia, where La Española Olive Oil is produced, this excellent fruit has been on the table and in the Spanish landscape for centuries, they’re sure to be around for many more to come!