Health Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Health Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

No matter what diet you are on or what stage of life you are in, you should be thinking about how to incorporate the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil into your daily food choices.

There are a lot of different cooking oils out there that claim to be the best.  Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) has many health benefits that you shouldn’t ignore. When you consider how an oil reacts to high temperatures – oxidative stability and ratio of monounsaturated fats – EVOO comes out on top. Studies show that cooking with EVOO can improve your foods nutrition content. Since the antioxidants found in EVOO are so resistant to high heat they don’t break down and are absorbed by the food, while helping the food retain some of its nutrients.  The high levels of polyphenols in EVOO have also been linked to reduced risk of bone loss with ageing.  There are a range of therapeutic properties which are beneficial to your cardiovascular health.

Blood cells benefiting from extra virgin olive oil
EVOO promotes cardiovascular health!

In regard to cardiovascular health, oleic acid (monounsaturated fat) has a high resistance to free radicals that helps slow down the spread of damaging chemical chain reactions. It decreases the risk of developing stiff or blocked arteries. Decreases LDL (bad cholesterol) and increases HDL (good cholesterol). For people with diabetes, it decreases blood glucose, so less insulin is needed.

Active Constituents in Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) That Promote Health

Monounsaturated fatty acids (oleic acid)

Foods with monounsaturated fats reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) bad cholesterol, and may increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) good cholesterol. It is the high level of monounsaturated fats compared with very low levels of saturated fats believed to be responsible for the widely discussed health benefits of the Mediterranean diet.

Natural antioxidants:

Phenolic compounds (hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol, derivatives of oleuropein).

There have been 17 different phenolic compounds found in EVOO.  These compounds are considered to be the most bioactive substances found in EVOO.

a-tocopherols (vitamin E)

This is the form of vitamin E that is preferentially absorbed and accumulated in our bodies.  Vitamin E deficiency may cause neurological problems and anemia. A serving of EVOO will account for 30% of your recommended daily amount.


Is a compound similar to beta-carotene and is one of the major components of skin surface lipids.  EVOO is considered one the richest renewable sources of squalene.


Is a natural non-steroidal anti-inflammatory compound.  It’s responsible for the burning sensation at the back of the throat when consuming EVOO

Weight Control

An estimated 160 million Americans (nearly 1/3 of men and 60% of women) are either obese or overweight.  There are a number of health risks associated with being overweight/obese, such as hypertension, cardiac disease, stroke, and diabetes.  Evidence supports that people who eat a Mediterranean style diet, where EVOO is the main source of fat, usually have a lower body mass index (BMI) and are able to maintain it for longer.  EVOO also naturally helps you feel more satisfied after meals, which helps you eat less and manage your weight more effectively. This is also why EVOO is important in the new low carb or keto diets.


The free radical theory proposes that ageing is caused by both normal metabolic processes and oxidative stress. Free radicals are oxidizing agents which cause damage to cells, affecting the lipid components of the cell membrane, altering membrane fluidity and resulting in subsequent cell ageing.  This process can be prevented by antioxidants.  Premium EVOO has high levels of natural antixodants and play a role in protecting lipid membranes from oxidative damage.

Young woman stretching
Photo by Daria Shevtsova

Anti-inflammatory health benefits of extra virgin olive oil

Oleocanthal has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  Similar to classical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, it’s a non-selective inhibitor of cyclooxygenase (COX), which acts similar to ibuprofen.  Oleocanthal has been linked to reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, by reducing the accumulation of proteins involved in the disease.  It has also been shown as a treatment of inflammatory degenerative joint disease.

No matter what diet you are on or what stage of life you are in, you should be thinking about how to incorporate the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil into your daily food choices.

References: Nutritional aspects of extra virgin olive oil – Claudia Guillaume- September 11, 2015