In recent years the Mediterranean diet has grown in popularity since its introduction by the World Health Organization in 1993 (Niedziocha, 2011). The Mediterranean diet includes foods from the countries around the Mediterranean Sea (Niedziocha, 2011). This includes Middle Eastern countries. Middle Eastern food is included in the diet because of the many health benefits of certain ingredients.
One of the most commonly found healthy ingredients of Middle Eastern food is olive oil. Olive oil has Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) (Hensrud, 2011). MUFAs are a healthy fat that can help lower cholesterol, lower one’s risk of heart disease and normalize blood clots (Hensrud, 2011).
There are numerous ways that olive oil is incorporated into Middle Eastern foods. Olive oil is used as a healthier alternative when frying. It is also used as salad dressing when combined with lemon juice. If you want a simple and fast snack spread some olive oil onto a piece of pita bread and cover with zaatar, a combination of dried herbs, toasted sesame seeds, and salt. Olive oil and zaatar on pita bread is like the peanut butter and jelly sandwich of Middle Eastern food. And dips like hummus, foul or labneh are traditionally topped with a generous drizzling of olive oil.
Olive oil is not just nutritionally beneficial, it can also be used for your skin. Olive oil can be used as a moisturizer, eye makeup remover, and cuticle moisturizer (Paris, 2007). When combined with sea salt, it can be used as an exfoliator (Paris, 2007).
The abundant amount of health related advantages of olive oil far outweighs the costs of using it, making olive oil not only a very useful condiment but also a very healthy one.
Niedziocha, L. (2011). How healthy is a Middle Eastern diet? Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/419370-how-healthy-is-a-middle-eastern-diet/
Paris, B. (2007). Beauty in your kitchen: Extra virgin olive oil. Retrieved from http://www.mywomenstuff.com/2007/04/13/beauty-in-your-kitchen-extra-virgin-olive-oil/
Rattue, G. (2012). Frying food in olive and sunflower oil better for heart. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/240753.php
Stein, J. (2012). Frying foods in olive, sunflower oils may not be bad for your heart. Retrieved from http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jan/25/news/la-heb-olive-sunflower-oil-frying-20120125