The olive fruit is the most cultivated fruit crop in the world. This is owed to its high nutritional value, to its high tolerance of weather conditions and its low maintenance requirements.
Although today olive products can be found in many places in the world, the main impact is held by the Mediterranean region.
The Mediterranean diet, with main components olive and olive oil, is the main factor for minimal cardiovascular disease, also breast, colon and prostate cancers.
Above the fatty acid content in olives, the micro-nutrients like tocopherols, and mostly the phenolic compounds are high also.
Diets containing extra virgin olive oil are better than diets that contain same amount of oleic acid, but low amounts of phenolic compounds.
The phenolic content in olive oil, is also used to indicate the quality and place of origin.
Olea europaea has 1250 cultivars dispersed all over the world, referred to in the: http://www.oleadb.it/ partially explained on the fact that the olive tree can survive for many years environmental changes and maintain its characteristics, for hundreds and hundreds of years.
The different cultivars have been separated by their pheno-typical characteristics (size, color, weight, shape, pulp/pit ratio, yield of oil, size of leaves etc. These markers sometimes are effected environmentally. The chemical contents like the phenols, fatty acids, tocopherols etc, have been used as markers also.
Portuguese olives are growing in small parcels and are high quality. Consumers prefer a delicious, traditionally produced olive. Cured olives are soaked in water with salt and oregano and they are a main part of the Portuguese diet. The Portuguese olive oil is fruity, aromatic, with intense flavour.
The Portuguese olive and olive oil productions are very small. Portugal has a few different kinds of olive oils registered as PDO (Protected Denomination of Origin).
Only 2% of the Portuguese olive production is used for table olives. The Portuguese are consuming more table olives than they produce. The existence of some cultivars are threatened by others, more productive ones.
In Portugal in case of a construction in a place where there is a mature olive tree, the tree is not going to be cut down. It is going to be relocated. Before an olive tree gets transported to its new place, it has to be pruned well. In its new place the first six months, it will need plenty of water. Spraying the tree with water, will speed its recovering from the shock of relocating.
One of the oldest olive trees in the world is in the Algarve, Portugal and it is believed to be 2000 years old.
Cultivars growing exclusively for table olives are the Negrinha do Freixo, the Axeitona e Elvas e Campo Maior, Redondil and the Azeiteira.
We know that environmental factors are the influence of contents in olives. When olives are ripening, the phenolic content is decreasing.
Choosing samples for the analysis of a phenolic fingerprint, should be done very carefully.
The results of a study at 2005, three cultivars (Roupuda, Cornicabra and Santulhana) of Spanish origin cultivated in Portugal, showed that the dry weight, obtained a profile with high levels of hydroxytyrosol and oleuropein, and low amounts of phenolics.
The use of phenolic profile as a marker for olive cultivars, still needs many studies to get to that point.