The Health Benefits of Olive Oil

Olive Oil Benefits

Olive oil, like wine, has been around forever. For people of the Mediterranean, it has had medicinal, even magical powers through the ages. The olive tree is considered a symbol of peace and glory.

Olives were first cultivated in the eastern part of the Mediterranean around 5000 B.C. Cultivation spread to Turkey, Greece, and Egypt before it reached southern Italy, Africa, and southern France. Italy was producing olive oil by the first century A.D.

Olive oil was used in medicines and different ointments. It was also used for nourishment and as an overall healing agent.

Today, Italy, Spain, and Greece produce olive oil, and California, with its Mediterranean climate, is fast becoming a leading producer. Like wine, many different varieties of olive oil have their own unique characteristics taken from the land and weather conditions.

Consumption of olive oil in the U.S. is at an all time high, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re still confused about the differences between regular or pure olive oil and olive oil that’s classified as virgin, extra virgin, and cold pressed. So, here’s a quick lesson in the different types of olive oil:

Basically, these designations are the grades of oil extracted from the olive. The classifications are strictly regulated. The regulation is somewhat different according to the country of origin.

Types of Olive Oil

Types of Olive Oil
  • Regular or Pure Olive Oil
    Regular or pure olive oil has been chemically refined and filtered to neutralize both undesirable strong tastes and acid content. This olive oil is of lower quality and usually the least expensive.
  • Virgin
    Virgin means the olive oil was produced without any chemical additives, so it contains no refined oil. It has an acidity that’s less than 2%, so it tastes better. Virgin refers to the fact that the olive oil has been less handled or manipulated during processing.
  • Extra Virgin
    Extra virgin olive oil comes from the first press only and is the highest quality olive oil with perfect flavor, aroma, and balanced acidity. This olive oil is less processed than Virgin olive oil and is very delicate in flavor. It’s perfect for salad dressings, marinades, and for dipping bread.
  • Cold Pressed Olive Oil
    Cold pressed olive oil is an unregulated label description. Back when olive oil was pressed the second time using hot water and steam to extract the last drop, the heat during the second pressing took away the delicate flavors. Today, premium olive oil is cold pressed, which means the olive paste is gently warmed to room temperature to avoid losing taste and pressing is done in winter, when it’s cold, to further retain flavor.

Health Benefits of Organic Olive Oil

Organic olive oil is a monounsaturated fat, and is considered a good fatty acid (high density lipoproteins, HDLs) protect against bad cholesterol, or low density lipoproteins (LDLs).

Delicious organic olive oil contains all the vitamins and nutrients of the olive fruit, and if you get a premium organic olive oil, it will taste better and have a full aroma.

  • Protect You from Heart Disease [1]
  • Promote Healthy Digestion [2]
  • Ease the Symptoms of Ulcers & Gastritis [3] [4]
  • Lower Gallstone Formation [5]
  • Balance the Fatty Acids in Your Body [6]

Scientific studies show that people eating two tablespoons of virgin organic olive oil daily for one week show less oxidation of LDLs and higher levels of antioxidants in their blood [7] .

If you use extra virgin organic olive oil, you will benefit from higher levels of antioxidants, especially vitamin E and phenols, the same compounds found in grapes, because the olive oil is less processed.

7 Uses for Organic Olive Oil

  1. Cooking – Start using organic olive oil for cooking or as a replacement whenever a recipe calls for butter.
  2. Body Oil – Rub it on your body or face after washing. You don’t need a lot to get great skin moisturizing benefits. You might even trying shaving with it or using it to remove makeup.
  3. Control Hair Frizz, Dry Cuticles & Nails – Just comb a drop of organic olive oil through your hair to control flyaways and frizz. Rub it into nail cuticles and nails for a naturally polished look.
  4. Control a Nagging Cough or Scratchy Throat – Swallow a tablespoon to soothe a dry or irritated throat.
  5. Shine Stainless Pots & Pans – Organic olive oil will prevent streaking and tarnishing and naturally condition your pots and pans.
  6. Lip Balm – Organic olive oil is the perfect lip balm to keep chapped lips at bay. It’s also great to use on your hands as a soothing hand lotion in winter.
  7. Bath Oil – Add a few drops of organic olive oil to the water you’re running for your bath. The benefits to your skin will be obvious even after the first time you use it.

- Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

References:

  1. Covas MI. Bioactive effects of olive oil phenolic compounds in humans: reduction of heart disease factors and oxidative damage. Inflammopharmacology. 2008 Oct;16(5):216-8. doi: 10.1007/s10787-008-8019-6. Review.
  2. Dinnella C, Minichino P, D’Andrea AM, Monteleone E. Bioaccessibility and antioxidant activity stability of phenolic compounds from extra-virgin olive oils during in vitro digestion. J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Oct 17;55(21):8423-9. Epub 2007 Sep 20.
  3. Odabasoglu F, Halici Z, Cakir A, Halici M, Aygun H, Suleyman H, Cadirci E, Atalay F. Beneficial effects of vegetable oils (corn, olive and sunflower oils) and alpha-tocopherol on anti-inflammatory and gastrointestinal profiles of indomethacin in rats. Eur J Pharmacol. 2008 Sep 4;591(1-3):300-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2008.06.075. Epub 2008 Jun 27.
  4. Concepción Romero, Eduardo Medina, Julio Vargas, Manuel Brenes, Antonio De Castro. In Vitro Activity of Olive Oil Polyphenols against Helicobacter pylori. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2007 January 17. 55 (3), pp 680–686 DOI: 10.1021/jf0630217.
  5. Yago MD, González V, Serrano P, Calpena R, Martínez MA, Martínez-Victoria E, Mañas M. Effect of the type of dietary fat on biliary lipid composition and bile lithogenicity in humans with cholesterol gallstone disease. Nutrition. 2005 Mar;21(3):339-47.
  6. Amy E. Binkoski PhD RD, Penny M. Kris-Etherton PhD RD. Balance of Unsaturated Fatty Acids Is Important to a Cholesterol-Lowering Diet: Comparison of Mid-Oleic Sunflower Oil and Olive Oil on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2005 July. vol. 105 issue 7, pages 1080-1086.
  7. Gimeno E, Fitó M, Lamuela-Raventós RM, Castellote AI, Covas M, Farré M, de La Torre-Boronat MC, López-Sabater MC. Effect of ingestion of virgin olive oil on human low-density lipoprotein composition. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2002 Feb;56(2):114-20.

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  • Florin

    When i read this article.. it makes me think of my grandmother. She would use olive oil on EVERYTHING! And then tell us all how healthy it was…. I guess she was onto something.

  • Brett

    Don’t forget however when cooking with the olive oil when it reaches smoking point will increase carcinogens so best not to re use if over heated(like any oil).

  • http://www.coastalclassiccreations.com Joseph Jackowitz

    This, too, is great information. Olive oil is wonderful for skin care, and makes a great moisturizer. My wife evens uses it while she is cooking a good Italian dinner to moisturize her face and hands inside of rinsing it off!

  • Henry Johnson

    Useful information like this one must be kept and maintained so I will put this one on my bookmark list! Thanks for this wonderful post and hoping to post more of this!

  • rachhpalbhullar

    i am thinking to start using for my family.as my friend is already using and enjoing good health.

  • C. Bailey

    Olive oil works well as a natural sunburn blocker, too. Still allowing you to receive natural vitamin D, but keeps you from burning. ;)

  • abbosi

    Olive oil also used with sodium bicarbonate in certain percentage to dissolve wax from ear

  • rick

    My wife’s grandmother ate it , cooked with it and put in her hair and rubbed it on her body and lived to age 96 in her own home..

  • http://Annie_407@yahoo.com annie

    I PUT A COUPLE OF DROPS OF OLIVE OIL IN MY CONDITIONERS, SHAMPOO, HAND CREAMS AND FACE CREAM, AMAZING RESULTS.

  • N.M.Newton

    I have done this for years. I am almost 54 years old and always try to eat healthy and exercise, but I am often told I do not look my age, and I have very few winkles on my face, which I do contribute to adding olive oil to my face cream.

  • Sheila Harber

    I take 2 TBL’s of cold press every day in the AM. Mixed with OJ. I have inoperative sores on my feet since the age of 12. Now at 48 they have disappeared within 2 years of taking it 15 years ago. Makes my skin soft and supple. Also lowered my cholesterol and raised the good. Throw out all your other oils. They will clog and kill you before your time.
    Cold pressed is the BEST!!!!

  • http://www.healthysalesman.com Adrian

    GREAT article. I found myself in Spain for the first time back in 2002, I couldn’t believe that they didn’t spread margarine on their bread – and how instead they soaked it in oil!!! I was a little wet behind the ears in those days and now know how essential oils (and good fats) are in the diet. Several years on, I find myself in Spain a lot and always pour oil over my bread as well as many other dishes – my joints, skin, hair… look and feel all the better for it:)

  • http://spiamediagroup.com/caring.html Steve Yakoban

    I need a good skin care treatment and would like to know more. I hope you put up another article on that aspect.

  • olive oil health

    This is very interesting, The beneficial health effects of olive oil are due to both its high content of monounsaturated fatty acids and its high content of antioxidative substances.

  • health benefits olive oil

    Olive oil has been used for centuries! From medicinal purposed to the use in salads, olive oil is a staple in many diets. Olive oil has many health benefits. Olive oil may help prevent breast cancer, ovarian cancer, colon cancer, and may even fight heart disease, also high in antioxidants, chemicals that fight cancer. It also contains, oleic acid, a fatty acid that is believed to suppress a gene responsible for over 25% of breast cancers. olive oil has a lot of calories, it should be used in moderation. There are many ways to incorporate olive oil into your diet to reap the possible benefits.

  • Niche Topics

    Lots of useful info, thank you! I’m a big fan of olive oil; it’s inexpensive and works wonders on dry skin! :)

  • karen

    I have been using virgin organic olive oil for quite some time. I use it every night all over my body and face. I am 55 years old and my skin is so smooth and soft. Also I have discovered that the olive oil relieves arthritis. I have arthritis in my knees and I rub olive oil on my knees every night and it eases the pain. I would not be without this wonderful oil. In my opinion it is the miracle oil. I truly love all the benefits that olive oil offers. This is the only oil besides virgin coconut oil that I cook with.

  • Kaoru Tsumabuki

    Thanks for this info. It is such a great help. Health is probably the biggest reason why the demand and expansion of organic foods have enormously grown over a short span of time. People nowadays are very conscious of their food intake.

  • amy

    i’m moroccan, so olive oil has always been a major part of my nutrition. i didn’t like it when i was younger, though. my mom keeps reminding us how good& healthy it is haha. i know i’ll do the same with my kids for sure :)

  • kris

    This isi wrong information. There are no carcinogens when olive oil is over heated — it simply loses any of its beneficial properties. With some other oils, they DO turn bad. A very good on the topic is “Fats for life”.

  • Tracy Vasko

    Olive oil is great with eggwhites, cheese and mushrooms. The best!

  • Stavros Grammatikakis

    Olive oil is the King of oils and the main ingredient of the famous Mediterranean diet. So I would like to suggest an excellent olive oil comes from Greece. It’s “eleon”, an organic extra virgin olive oil with excellent qualitative characteristics and surprisingly good price.

  • Jeff Bell

    Generally I find nothing to disagree with when it comes to Dr. Group’s health recommendaitons. However, there is one crucial health issue I would point out when it comes to the use of olive oil:

    I would not substitute olive oil for butter in all cooking situations. The problem is that olive oil, regardless of the purity and quality is not stable at high heat. Whereas butter is. So if you use olive oil to saute vegetables, for example, you will overheat the olive oil, resulting in dangerous chemicals in your food. My rule of thumb is that olive oil should be used at room temperature and up to the temperature of boiling water.

    This means it is OK to use olive oil when cooking soups, for example. But I never use it above that temperature. If I want olive oil in a disk for either taste or health reasons or both, and the dish needs to be cooked at temperatures above that of boiling water, I simply add the olive oil when the cooking is done and as the dish is cooling.

    The only two oils I kow for sure are safe above the temperatujre of boiling water are organic butter and organic coconut oil. There likely are others, but more research is needed to be certain they are stable at the higher temperatures.

    Many will likely disagree with my statement about olive oil, but I have seen the chemical research and am convinced it is accurate.

  • Sultan Khan

    Make sure your olive oil is Extra virgin certified. Much of the so-called extra virgin olive oil sold in large grocery stores is not.

  • benjammin

    I’d like to see your “chemical research” so please provide us with the journal article or abstract. I’m interested in this as everything points to olive oil being quite stable at high temperatures and being perfectly safe to use for cooking, especially in the place of butter. After passing the smoke point I’m not quite sure how “dangerous chemicals” form out basic compounds. When you over-cook an egg does it form “dangerous chemicals?” how about vegetables? I think you make a good point when you say you add the olive oil after cooking which is a great way to do things. However, if it’s something that’s cooked and it needs some sort of fat it’s olive oil.

  • deb

    Can olive oil help with wrinkles?

  • Eljaau

    To comment on Jeff Bell’s reply, I have been cooking for years and discovered that, if you add butter and olive oil together at the same time when you saute…that the olive oil will not over heat. The trick is to do this at the same time.

  • Vanessa

    My mother used olive oil on our skin and hair. I’ve used it for years now in the kitchen and for my body. It is the only oil I need for my hair.

    I use it when I’ve been bitten by bugs like mosquitoes rubbing it in and massaging right onto the bite. Within minutes the pain and itching is gone and the bump from the bite is going away. The healing properties are remarkable and I do cook with it as well as take it orally. In my late fifties and as some have testified no wrinkles. A healthier diet and Olive Oil are blessings from God.

    Though for health, organic extra virgin is best all around for obvious reasons, most times I just grab Extra Virgin off the shelf at the grocer. As the organic is more expensive and not always been available where I’ve lived over the years.

    May I make an observation in the article? Egypt is in Africa and the named Middle East is historically and [geographically] the African continent where Shemitic people dwell.

  • http://www.tastythailand.com Reeves

    I actually use it to wash my face with and that completely got rid of all my acne. Absolutely miracle acne cure and soooo cheap.

  • http://www.tastythailand.com Reeves

    Not true. The Spanish use olive oil to saute vegetables and to cook most foods. They are also the world’s second longest living people.

  • http://twitter.com/frenchsoap #Handmade #Soap

    Awesome thanks

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  • DIMITRIS

    Among the numerous benefits of olive oil is its use in various kinds of burns. Immediately pour oilive oil on the burned surface, the skin absorbs the oil after an hour or so extracts the damaged skin sells, the pain is gone and depending on the severity of the burn it leaves no scars. This works in 100% of all kind of skin burns and I have not seen it mentioned in scientific papers.

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  • http://www.onlyremedies.com/ Hafizur Rahman

    I agree with you.thanks

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