Olives are a kitchen and cocktail favorite, but they also contain many beneficial nutrients in the leaves as well as the fruit. In addition to long term speculation that the high anti-oxidant content in olive oil contributes to Mediterranean populations having lower rates of cancer, olives are known for their anti-microbial properties as well as promoting a healthy scalp.
While olives and olive based extracts and oils have numerous health benefits, care should be taken while cooking to not heat any oil past it’s smoke point, which will effect the flavor of your finished product. Olive oil contains mostly monounsaturated fatty acids, which are relatively stable under heat. Only 11% of consumable olive oils contain the far less stable polyunsaturated fats. Extra-Virgin olive oil typically has the highest smoke point of olive oils, around 375-420 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes it ideal for stovetop cooking at lower temperatures, however due to the rich taste of extra-virgin olive oil, it may be an overpowering flavor in baking recipes.
Oleuropein is found in the highest concentrations in young olives, accounting for up to 14% of the fruit’s dry matter, however it is present throughout the entire plant, even in the dried leaves of most olive species. It has been observed that oleuropein, the main constituent of the leaves and unprocessed olive drupes of Olea europaea, when administered topically signals the Wnt/β-catenin pathway, this positively regulates the growth phase of hair, making it an ideal ingredient for hair retention products.
Olive leaf extract, has also been tested on mice in other studies where it has been shown to reduce kidney cell deaths, inhibit growth of lactic acid bacteria, and reduce oxidative damage in blood, kidney, liver, and brain tissues. Oleuropein has high bio-availability for humans, with 55-60% of what is consumed orally entering the blood stream and taking effect.