Anyone reading, writing or just thinking about olives and olive oil will, sooner rather than later, be forced to confront the science that has over the centuries elucidated the ties between this majestic tree and humans.

Whether it’s law, medicine, agronomy or human aesthetics, one must come to terms with fatty acids and phenolic compounds.

Strolling through the bowels of Binghamton University’s science library recently, I came across a volume in the over-sized book section (and it is over-sized, running to just under 1,500 fact-filled pages) entitled Olives and Olive Oil in Health and Disease Prevention, edited by Victor R. Preedy and Ronald Ross Watson (2010).

Even though the library kindly let me check this out for an entire year, after one evening with the book I knew I had to have my very own copy. Sure, several people have uploaded this book onto the internet, but it is one of those books that you want for your library, to pull down and peruse when you’re feeling low. You want to thank the authors for taking the time and trouble to produce this work. This book has everything scientific you’d ever need to know about olives, and yet it doesn’t wear you down.

From the opening chapter on general aspects of olives and olive oil, through the processes of oil production and on to cardiology, lipids, oxidative stress and even mutagenic activity in meat samples after deep frying in olive oil in comparison to other oils (not to diminish the importance of azoxymethane-induced colon carcinogenesis through Wnt/beta-catenin signaling and the effects of olive oil or usage of hydroxytyrosol for antimycoplasmal activity), it enlightens, entertains and illuminates.

From stress to cholesterol, from skin afflictions to tooth decay, it substantiates one’s belief in the magical powers of this yellow/green substance. I can’t begin to imagine where this book has been hiding. Maybe everyone knew about it but me, but just in case that’s not so, do try to get your hands on a copy. You will never look back.

Olives and Olive Oil in Health and Disease Prevention on Amazon

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