Olive oil is the key to this beneficial diet, "An olive oil-based diet, together with physical activity, helps to avoid the development of age-associated diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, atherosclerosis and neurodegenerative diseases." says Dr Ligia Dominguez. "Olive oil lowers blood cholesterol levels, lowers blood sugar levels and blood pressure, and prevents the formation of free radicals, offering protection from some types of cancer".
What makes Sicily the ideal place for olives is based on the fact that the olive tree is difficult to cultivate. You cannot plant it just anywhere, Professor Paolo Inglese of the Department of Horticulture at the University of Palermo, says.
"The olive is a specific plant. Even in Sicily, one of the biggest producers of olive oil in the world, each cultivar has its own specific place. It cannot be successfully grown elsewhere."
As a result, every olive oil-producing region of Sicily has its own cultivar. Nocellara del Belice, which produces oil with a nutty taste, for example, is grown close to the capital, Palermo; Nocellara Etnea favours the volcanic areas near Mt Etna, while Ogliarola messinese is planted in the Messina area in the northern part of Sicily.Sicily has been cultivating olives since the 7th century BC, Prof Inglese said, showing photos of trees hundreds of years old. Sicilian olive oil tends to be strongly flavoured and spicy, and it usually has a pronounced grassy fragrance, he said.
Read more of this story in the Bangkok Post.