Why Extra Virgin Olive Oil Is the Healthiest Fat on Earth

Written by Kris Gunnars, BSc

Dietary fats are highly controversial, with debates about animal fats, seed oils, and everything in between.

Most people agree extra virgin olive oil is incredibly healthy.

As part of the Mediterranean diet, this traditional oil has been a staple food for some of the world’s most healthy populations.

Studies show that fatty acids and antioxidants in olive oil can offer a lot Powerful health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease.

This article explains why extra virgin olive oil is one of the healthiest fats.


What is olive oil and how is it made?

Olive oil is oil pressed from olives, the fruit of the olive tree.

The manufacturing process is incredibly simple – olives are pressed to extract their oil.

However, lower quality versions can be extracted using chemicals or even diluted with other, cheaper oils.

Therefore, buying the right kind of olive oil is crucial.

The best variety is extra virgin olive oil. It is naturally extracted and standardized for purity and certain sensory properties such as taste and smell.

Olive oil, which is really extra virgin, has a pronounced taste and contains many phenolic antioxidants, the main reason why it is so beneficial.

There are also refined or “light” olive oils that are often extracted with solvents, treated with heat or even diluted with cheaper oils such as soybean oil or rapeseed oil.

For this reason, a careful check of the label is essential and buy from a reputable seller. Even oil labeled extra virgin olive oil may have been adulterated with cheaper oils.


Genuine extra virgin olive oil is 100% natural and contains many antioxidants. Many of the inferior olive oils were processed and falsified with cheaper oils.


Nutrient composition of extra virgin olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil is quite nutritious.

It contains modest amounts of vitamins E and K and many useful fatty acids.

One tablespoon (13.5 grams) of olive oil contains (1): [19659022Saturatedfat: 14%

  • Monounsaturated fat: 73% (mostly oleic acid)
  • Vitamin E: 13% of daily value (DV)
  • Vitamin K: 7% of DV

Extra virgin olive oil radiates in its content of antioxidants.

Antioxidants are biologically active and some of them can help fight serious diseases (2, 3 Trusted Source).

The most important antioxidants of the oil include the anti-inflammatory oleocanthal and oleuropein, a substance that protects LDL (bad) cholesterol from oxidation (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source).

Some people criticize that olive oil has a high omega value. 6 to omega-3 ratio (over 10: 1). However, the total amount of polyunsaturated fats is still relatively low, so this should not be a cause for concern.


Olive oil is very rich in monounsaturated fats and contains a modest amount of vitamins E and K. Genuine extra virgin olive oil is loaded with antioxidants, some of which have strong health benefits to have.


Extra virgin olive oil contains anti-inflammatory substances

Chronic inflammation is believed to be a major cause of many diseases, including heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and arthritis.

Some speculate that olive oil’s ability to fight inflammation is behind its many health benefits.

It has been discovered that oleic acid, the best-known fatty acid in olive oil, reduces inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein (6, 7Trusted Source). However, the main anti-inflammatory effects of the oil appear to be due to it. The researchers estimate that the amount of oleocanthal in 50 ml (about 3.4 tablespoons) of additional alcohol acts like ibuprofen, a popular anti-inflammatory drug (8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source) Native olive oil has similar effects to 10% of the adult ibuprofen dose for pain relief (10Trusted Source).

A study also showed that substances in olive oil can reduce the expression of genes and proteins that mediate inflammation (11Trusted Source).

Keep in mind that chronic, mild inflammation is usually relatively mild and takes years or decades to cause damage.

The use of extra virgin olive oil can prevent this. This leads to a reduced risk of various inflammatory diseases, especially heart disease.


Olive oil contains oleic acid and oleocanthal, two nutrients that can fight inflammation. This can be the main reason for the health benefits of olive oil.


Extra virgin olive oil and cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and strokes are among the leading causes of death worldwide (12Trusted Source).

Numerous observational studies show that death from these diseases is low in certain regions of the world. especially in countries around the Mediterranean (13Trusted Source).

This observation originally aroused interest in the Mediterranean diet, which is supposed to mimic the way people eat in those countries (14Trusted Source).

Studies on the Mediterranean diet show that it can help prevent heart disease. In a large study, it reduced heart attacks, strokes and deaths by 30% (15).

Extra virgin olive oil protects against heart disease through numerous mechanisms (16):

  • Anti-inflammatory: Olive oil protects against inflammation, a major driver of heart disease (17, 18).
  • Reduces the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol: The oil protects LDL particles from oxidative damage, a key factor in the development of heart disease (19Trusted Source).
  • Improves blood vessel health: Olive oil improves the function of the endothelium, the lining of the blood vessels (20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source).
  • Helps Clot: ] Some studies suggest that olive oil can help prevent unwanted blood clots, a key feature of heart attacks and strokes (22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source).
  • Lowers Blood Pressure: A study in patients with high blood pressure revealed that olive oil reduced blood pressure and lowered the need for blood pressure medication by 48% (24Trusted Source).

Given the biological effects of olive oil, it is not surprising that people who consume most of their amounts die significantly less frequently from heart attacks and strokes (25Trusted Source, 26).

Dozens – if not hundreds – animal and human studies have shown that olive oil has great benefits for the heart.

In fact, the evidence is strong enough to recommend these people to people who are at high risk of developing or being affected by heart disease, taking in their diet plenty of extra virgin olive oil for heart health. It lowers blood pressure and inflammation, protects LDL particles from oxidation and prevents unwanted blood clotting.


Other Health Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Although olive oil has been largely studied for its effects on heart health, its consumption has also been linked to a number of other health benefits.

Olive Oil and Cancer

Cancer is a common cause of death and characterized by uncontrolled growth of cells.

Studies have shown that people in Mediterranean countries have a relatively low risk of cancer, and some have speculated that olive oil has something to do with it (27Trusted Source).

One potential trigger for cancer is oxidative damage from harmful molecules called free radicals. However, extra virgin olive oil is rich in antioxidants that reduce oxidative damage (28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source).

Olive oil oleic acid is also highly resistant to oxidation and has been shown to be beneficial for cancer-related genes (30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source).

Numerous test tube studies have shown that compounds in olive oil can help fight cancer at the molecular level (32, 33, 34 Trusted Source).

That is, controlled human trials I have not yet investigated whether olive oil contributes to cancer prevention.

Olive Oil and Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease is the world’s most common neurodegenerative disease and one of the leading causes of dementia.

Alzheimer’s is an accumulation of protein entanglements called beta-amyloid plaques in certain neurons of the brain.

A mouse study has found that a substance in olive oil may help to remove these plaques (35).

Additionally, a control ed study on humans showed that an olive oil enriched Mediterranean diet improved brain function and reduced the risk of cognitive impairment (36Trusted Source).


can help fight cancer and Alzheimer’s, although this must be confirmed by human studies.


Can you cook with it?

During cooking, fatty acids can oxidize, so they react with oxygen and are damaged.

This is mainly due to the double bonds in fatty acid molecules.

For this reason saturated fats (no double bonds) are highly heat-resistant, while poly unsaturated fats (many double bonds) are sensitive and detrimental.

Olive oil containing mostly mono unsaturated fatty acids (only a double) bond) is quite heat resistant.

In one study, researchers heated extra virgin olive oil to 180 ° C for 36 hours. The oil was highly damage resistant (37Trusted Source).

In another study, olive oil was used for frying and it took 24 to 27 hours for it to be considered harmful (38Trusted Source).

Overall, olive oil seems to be very safe for cooking at relatively high heat.


The Bottom Line

Olive oil is very healthy.

Olive oil is definitely a superfood for people with heart disease or a high risk of getting it.

However, make sure that you buy extra virgin olive oil was not diluted with cheaper oils.

The benefits of this wonderful fat are among the few things that most people agree on in their diet.


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