Oleic Acid

Olive oil helped develop Western civilization in culture, religion, and myths. It appears in creation myths in Rome, Greece, and in the Bible. The olive tree was a symbol of peace, strength, wisdom, and provider of food. The olive tree is mainly attributed to the Mediterranean area: regions like Turkey, Greece, Syria, Iran, and Iraq. It spread to Egypt and Italy over time by way of cultivation and trade of olive oil. As the Roman Empire expanded, so did the culture with the olive tree. Olive oil was used in foods, lamps, cosmetics, sports, fragrances, medicines, and other health purposes. Olives appeared in many different cultures, it became a symbol of various regions. The hardiness of the olive tree allowed it to grow almost anywhere in the Mediterranean area. Growth of the olive tree and the trade of olive oil it provided was sought after by numerous empires and allowed different kingdoms to expand and grow.
Oleic acid, the major component in olive oil, is what makes olive oil unlike any other oil or fat. Olive oil has been important throughout the course of Western civilization and it is difficult to believe the chemical difference between olive oil and other oils is so small. All fats and oils are classified as triglycerides: they are made up of three molecules of fatty acid and a glycerol. The fatty acids are chains of carbon atoms with an acid group at one of the ends. When three water molecules are taken away from the between the hydrogen and three of the hydroxide groups, the triglyceride is formed. All fats and oils have the same glycerol part, but the fatty acids in each can vary. Oil is saturated if no more hydrogen atoms can be added to the fatty acids. A fatty acid such as oleic acid is monounsaturated because it only has one carbon double bond. It is composed of eighteen carbons and makes up about 55 to 85 percent of olive oil.
There have been certain theories proving that olive oil is helpful in lowering cholesterol. This was identified in response to the evidence that eating greater amounts of saturated fat can facilitate in the development of heart disease. Saturated fats are in fact known to increase cholesterol levels. Monounsaturated acids such as olive oil actually have a neutral effect on cholesterol levels. Olive oil in actuality increases the ratio of certain good and bad lipoproteins that can block arteries and increase the chance of heart disease.
Olive oil has had an unimaginable impact on the whole of society. It had an immense impression on the ancient world it is intertwined everywhere in the modern world. The olive tree and olive oil was prominent in religion and various cultures, and it still is. Olive oil is necessary for various medicines and cooking, and was one of the first methods of making soap. Many countries still grow and export it, and where it is grown it is a large part of the culture. The popularity of the olive tree faded as the Roman and Greek myths weakened in the Mediterranean area.
The author of this chapter was correct in stating that the effect of oleic acid was undeniably important. It is stated that the role it played in the development of present-day Western civilization due to the fact that many of the ideals of modern governments are based upon ancient cultures; ideals like democracy, philosophy, logic, scientific and mathematical investigations, education, and the arts. The author endlessly points out how the trade in olive oil provided a good deal of society’s prosperity. Even though the ancient societies were reveling in the glory of the olive tree, they can really thank the triglyceride oleic acid.

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Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Oleic Acid

  1. brookekowalski

    Nice Synopsis of Oleic acid, Ana! Thank goodness it does not contribute to heart disease, because every time we go to Publix, my dad ALWAYS has to stop at the olive bar. Next week, this will be my favorite chapter(get it? because I am doing it… hahaha)! 🙂

  2. This was very informative, and interesting to read, I loved it!

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