I think everyone can agree that olives are good for the body, but did you know that other parts of the olive tree have medicinal value? The olive leaf is actually healthy too.
But first, a bit about the olive fruit: (Olea europaea) is cardioprotective (i.e. heart protective). It helps the heart because it contains herbal consituents (i.e. healthy chemicals) that decrease cholesterol levels, decrease blood pressure, and dilate blood vessels. Olive oil is a mild laxative too. Olives are all around nutritious and are full of nourishing oils/fats that are especially beneficial for the skin.
Now, the olive leaf also decreases blood pressure and is beneficial to the circulatory system. Moreover, it is a diuretic, meaning it helps to increase urination and thus flushing toxins out of the body. The leaf has strong anti-microbial properties, making it a great herb to take when combating a bacterial, viral, parasitic, or fungal infection. Lastly, the olive leaf can help decrease blood sugar levels, making it a good herb for diabetics.
For those with potential heart problems (high cholesterol, high blood pressure, poor circulation), one to two tablespoons (15-30 mL) of olive oil are recommended daily. Use it in place of butter/margarine, use in salad dressings, drizzle over any cooked vegetable to increase the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, especially tomato products to get all of the lycopene! As for its laxative-properties, when constipated, take 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of oil at bedtime; a bowel movement should come easily in the morning after this treatment.
When buying olive oil (I'm repeating myself here), aim for extra virgin (this type of oil contains the most beneficial constiuents). Extra virgin simply means that it was the first oil squeezed out of the olive. Secondly, try to buy a brand of oil that comes in a black or dark-colored bottled, or one that comes in a can. Olive oil will oxidize in the light, making it go rancid. The dark bottles protect against this. To maximize the health of the oil, store in a cupboard, away from direct light. Finally, a good olive oil should taste slightly fruity and be a light green in color.
If you are looking to buy a good quality olive oil, I'd recommend the Nudo program. Nudo is an olive farm that organizes the adoption of an olive tree; buy adopting, you are supporting small, independent farmers, while enjoying the fruits of your tree (literally!).