Extra virgin olive oil is regularly touted for its health benefits. Studies come out on a seemingly weekly basis proclaiming the benefits of a Mediterranean diet rich on olive oil, especially when it comes to cardiac health. Now, a new study shows changing irrigation practices while growing olive trees can help farmers to produce healthier olive oils.
According to the researchers, by giving trees less water at specifically calculated times, the trees’ production of olives remained steady while the presence of phytoprostanes, a type of beneficial
compound, increased. Other studies have already provided evidence that phytoprostanes protect plants against oxidative damage and promote good health in the immune and vascular systems.
Researchers refer to this tactic of occasionally decreasing irrigation as “regulated deficit irrigation,” or RDI. This most recent RDI study was performed in Spain, one of the world’s largest producers of olives and olive oil. Researchers there performed RDI during growth phases in which water stress did not have any impact on the production of fruit. Over a two year period, researchers conducted their RDI experiments on a seven- by five-meter olive grove, watering the plants when necessary but using irrigation when less water was needed during the pit hardening phase. This process resulted in a more sustainable watering method for olive trees that’s healthier for the planet while still managing to produce a fruit that’s even healthier for humans.
This idea of regulated deficit irrigation producing healthier fruits isn’t unique to olive trees. Researchers in the past have also used this strategy in vineyards. In those cases, established grape vines that undergo RDI will send their roots even deeper down into the soil to search for water. The harder the vines work, the riper and more flavorful the grapes become, which helps the farmers to make especially flavorful and bold wines.
This is just another way that researchers across the globe are finding new and innovative ways to improve the quality and health standards of olive oil!
Our mission is to create a partnership between the Evangelical community and the nation of Israel; this partnership will produce employment, income, and revenue for humanitarian aid projects in Israel. We envision the planting of one-million olive trees over the next seven years. This relationship was prophesied in the Bible centuries ago, that the foreigners and strangers (those not of Jewish descent) would help rebuild the walls of Israel and cause the desert to bloom (Isa 35:1). Among other things, this reforestation is an environmental blessing for the entire region. May all who participate in this project be blessed body, soul and spirit; it is time for you to take root in Israel!