Food from the Quran: Olives

Whether you love them or you hate them, most of us have eaten olives at some point in our lives and are familiar with both green and black varieties.

Olive are thought to have originated in Crete in around 3000 – 5000 BCE and they are technically a fruit. They grown on the Olea europea tree which can live for hundreds of years.3

Interestingly, olives cannot be eaten directly off the tree and must go through a process before they can be consumed. They are often cured and pickled in an oil, brine or water solution and sometimes even in lye, subhanAllah. Olive oil is made from the crushing and pressing of olives.

Alhamdulillah’s, both olives and oil are blessed food mentioned in the Quran and this mention alone is a good reason to try and incorporate these foods into our daily diet as much as possible.

Allah swears by olive in Surat at-Teen,

By the fig and the olive.
And [by] Mount Sinai.
And [by] this secure city [Makkah],
We have certainly created man in the best of stature;
Then We return him to the lowest of the low,
Except for those who believe and do righteous deeds, for they will have a reward uninterrupted.
So what yet causes you to deny the Recompense?
Is not Allah the most just of judges?
(Quran: Surat At-Teen (The Fig))

 Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The example of His light is like a niche within which is a lamp, the lamp is within glass, the glass as if it were a pearly [white] star lit from [the oil of] a blessed olive tree, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire. Light upon light. Allah guides to His light whom He wills. And Allah presents examples for the people, and Allah is Knowing of all things. (Quran 24:35)

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF OLIVES

Olives and their oil are a rich source of oleic acid and they are also a good source of vitamin E because they contain mixed tocopherols. They also have several aromatic and phenolic compounds including flavonoids.

  • Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: the high levels of monounsaturated fat in olives has been associated with a lowered risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Lowering Blood Pressure: studies have shown recently that the monounsaturated fat in olives (and olive oil) can help to lower blood pressure.
  • Rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds: Olives are packed with Phytonutrients: The list of phytonutrients that olives contain is jaw-dropping (and too long to list here) but suffice to say, there aren’t many foods that have such a diverse range of both antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, some of which are unique to olives.3
  • Cancer prevention and prevention of bone loss: a phytonutrient in olives, hydroxytyrosol, has been linked to cancer prevention for some time but is now also being regarded as able to help prevent bone loss as well. This is interesting as the typical Mediterranean diet has been associated with a lower risk of osteoporosis and olives/olive oil feature as a core component of the Mediterraneann diet. 3

HOW TO INCLUDE OLIVES IN YOUR DIET

  • Plain, whole, in salads or as a snack
  • Blended with garlic and olive oil as a delicious dip
  • In food like Moroccan lemon and olive tagine
  • Baked into breads or savoury muffins

Don’t miss out on the previous posts from the Food from the Quran Series, featuring pomegranate and water, olive oil.


References

  1. Imam Ibn Qayyim, Healing with the Medicine of the Prophet
  2. Murray, M. (2005). The Encyclopaedia of Healing Foods. New York, NY: Atria Books.
  3. Retrieved from: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=46

 

 

 

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