Olive oil is perfect for making any special meal this Thanksgiving.  Not only does it intensify the flavor of every meal that you cook,it makes your meals healthier because it contains plenty of antioxidants.  Since antioxidants fight against diseases, consuming it helps prevent heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, strokes and many other conditions.  While most fats are not good for you, oil made from olives contains mono-saturated fat, which is actually healthy for you.  It also has vitamins E and K.  Of all the varieties, Extra virgin olive oil is the healthiest because it contains more antioxidants.  In Mediterranean regions, people use olive oil daily to cook.  Research shows that the Mediterranean diet helps them live longer and healthier lives.

Spain is the biggest producer of olive oil in the world.  In fact, 75 percent of Spain’s olive oil production comes from Andalucia within the Jaen province.  Have you ever wondered where the largest olive oil mill is located?  If you guessed Spain, then you are right.  Villacarillo Nuestra Senora del Pilar, the world’s biggest olive mill, is located in Spain and produces 2,500 tons of olives per day in the town of Villacarrillo, Jaen.  Maria Pastor Bueno founded  Villacarillo Nuestra Senora del Pilar in 1966.  More than 2, 2 million kilos of olives are crushed per day.  The mill is so productive and large that many people compare it to an airport.

While Spain is the largest producer of oil made from olives, the Greeks are the greatest consumers of this healthy fat. Greeks have always used it as a part of their diet.  In 2,500 BC, olives were grown in Crete.  In Ancient Greece,it was used to prevent sports injuries and relieve muscle pain.  According to Greek mythology, it influenced the name of Greek’s capital, Athens.  The Greek legend describes a competition between Poseidon and Athena.  Since she produced an olive tree, Athena won the competition.  According to the myth, this is why the capital of Greece is called Athens, for it is named after Athena.

Did you know that, during the Olympic Games that took place in 776 BC,, the athletes were massaged with olive oil?  It was used as an ointment for the athletes, so that they would have the strength that they needed to do well.  Even though these games were dedicated to Zeus, Athena was the one who would give the athletes power..  No the winners of these games did not get medals like today.  Instead, they were awarded olive leaf crowns and olive oil.

Like the Greeks who believed in the power of olive oil, it is also a rite of passage for many Christians and for other religions as well.  Roman Catholics, Anglicans and members of the Greek Orthodox religion use it during special ceremonies.  Blue bloods also use this oil for their coronations.  In addition to being a part of a healthy diet, olive oil also has a mystical meaning that exists today as it did in ancient times.

With Thanksgiving coming up, you can add olive oil to any recipe and make it taste even better.  It is so good that it will even motivate you to eat the healthy foods that you do not like.  So get ahead and do not worry.  Put olive oil on your favorite foods and have a Happy Thanksgiving.