Food & Recipes

Food History / Facts

The Olive Tree

The olive tree has been the symbol of wisdom and peace. The olive tree was the
sacred tree of goddess Athena and Athens, the capital of Greece, took its name
from the goddess. Zeus had decreed that the city should be given to the god who
offered the most useful gift to the people. Poseidon gave them the horse. Athena
struck the bare soil with her spear and caused an olive tree to spring up. The people
were so delighted with the olive that Zeus gave the city to Athena and named it after
her. Athena is often shown with an olive branch, a symbol of peace and plenty.

At the Ancient Olympic Games, winners were presented with a simple olive tree
branch which was cut with a gold-handled knife from a wild olive tree. The Greeks
believed that the vitality of the sacred tree was transmitted to the recipient through
the branch.

The olive oil is still being used for medical purposes and religious purposes and it
has been proved to be an essential ingredient of a healthy diet. As a monosaturated
fatty acid, olive oil does not have the same cholesterol-raising effect of saturated
fats. Olive oil is also a good source of antioxidants. Olive oil, unlike seed oils,
remains stable in its chemical structure at relatively high temperatures because
of its antioxidant and high oleic acid content.


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