It is a universally known fact that olive oil is one of the best edible oils. In fact, it is laden with nutritional benefits that promote overall good health.
However, we hardly know about how to use olive oil in the best way so as to reap its health benefits.
This post is not only for men or women who cook food for themselves and their families, but also for those who are its consumers.
You should know what you eat and the best alternatives that you can use to make you healthy and live a long life, shouldn’t you?
If you are aware about the nutritional facts, then you would make better diet-related choices.
You would certainly benefit from olive oil because it is better than most of the other edible oils in nutritional and health aspects.
Now, I vouch for olive oil because I use it and find it beneficial, but I agree that some of its benefits are either exaggerated or the true facts are not completely revealed.
In fact, a lot depends on the kind of olive oil you use and how you use it!
Also, you need to be careful of not getting cheated by paying more for low quality olive oil.
In this post, I’ll spill the beans about olive oil facts and myths that you would be happy to know.
An Overview of Contents
What Is Olive Oil
It’s okay if you are ignorant about olives and olive oils. Olive tree are not grown in all parts of the world and olive oil is not commonly consumed by people everywhere.
The olive tree is native to the Mediterranean basin and part of North Africa and West Asia.
You will be surprised to know that olive oil has been used for edible purposes for more than 5000 years!
To gauge the goodness and popularity of olive oil, just know the fact that the olive branch is used as a symbol of prosperity and peace.
Olive has also been regarded as a symbol of fertility, glory, power, and wisdom.
When so many qualities are attributed to it, there must be something to olive oil, isn’t it?
Besides cooking, olive oil is also used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and other modern uses.
As I said before, how nutritious the olive oil is and the degree to which it could be responsible for health benefits, depends on the type of olive oil you use.
Types of Olive Oil
Olive oil has four grades depending on its type of processing.
Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) – This is superior olive oil and highly nutritional because it is obtained by the first cold-pressing of olives without any chemical treatment. It is pure, unrefined, and brings you the maximum health benefits.
Virgin olive oil – This is good quality olive oil obtained by the second cold-pressing of olives, but it is a bit inferior in nutritional quality as compared to EVOO, yet is healthy for your body.
Refined olive oil – This is a refined version of virgin olive oil and undergoes a process that removes its real color, odor, and flavor, making it colorless, odorless, and tasteless. Refined olive oil is generally labeled as ‘pure olive oil’ or just ‘olive oil’.
Olive pomace oil – This is prepared by refining the crude olive pomace oil obtained from olive pomace, which is the leftover paste of whole olives after the pressing process. It has comparatively less nutritional value and health benefits as compared to EVOO.
Olive oil is also produced for industrial purposes and is called lampante virgin oil, but it can undergo further processing to be made edible.
Which olive oil would you prefer to use?
Which Is The Best Olive Oil
What make the olive oil grades different from each other is the process they go through, their flavor, odor, defects, and the amount of free fatty acid content in them.
These differences are also responsible for the different levels of olive oil nutrition and health benefits.
Good olive oil is extracted using natural methods. It is devoid of chemicals, less acidic, has a high smoke point and long shelf life.
You may choose the olive oil depending on its use – many restaurants use the olive pomace oil as it comes cheap.
But if you are looking for the best olive oil, it is certainly the Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), though it is the costliest of all.
Nutritional Label Of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Why would you buy a costly EVOO – of course, for its nourishment value because you care for your health and that of your family.
To get an idea of the goodness of EVOO, you need to have a look at its nutrition content label.
As you can see, extra virgin olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat, which includes Omega-3 and Omega-6 healthy fats.
The saturated fat levels are low and that turns out to be good for health. The trans fats are nil, which is superb!
Rest everything is nil or nearly nil, yet you get a good amount of calories from one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, which can be up to about 6% of your ideal daily calorie intake.
Here is the detailed nutritional facts information of olive oil, which is responsible for crowning olive oil as one of the best edible oils.
6 Good Olive Oil Nutrition Facts
My research about the nutritional aspect of olive oil revealed that olive oil, especially the EVOO, has extraordinary anti-oxidant properties.
This is what really makes olive oil the healthiest edible oil and one of the best foods!
It is because antioxidants help you keep yourself safe from diseases and live a long life.
For more information about anti-oxidants, read here.
Also, if you carefully observed the nutrition facts above, olive oil mostly comprises of fats – in fact, it is a fat food – it does not contain any amount of carbohydrates or protein.
But do not be alarmed, as all fat is not bad. 🙂
Related Read: Is The Fat In A Diet Really Bad For You
Olive oil is one of the most sought after edible oil because it contains healthy fat – it is nutritious.
Here are some other nutritional facts you should know about olive oil:
Fact 1: Olive oil is full of anti-oxidants
Presence of anti-oxidants like polyphenols is what determines the quality of olive oil.
The phenolic compounds are the nutrients that are also present in tea, cocoa, coffee, and many fruits and vegetables.
Polyphenols are rich anti-oxidants without which olive oil may lose its sheen.
It is the polyphenols that help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as reduce blood clotting.
They also help lower inflammation and cellular proliferation, and thus reduce cell damage that could lead to cancer and degenerative diseases.
If the harvest date of the olive oil you use is beyond two years and if you use extreme heat in cooking, the polyphenol content of olive oil will decrease taking away its nutritional and health benefits.
Fact 2: Olive oil has anti-inflammatory and cardio-protective properties
Among the phenolic compounds, there is a powerful anti-oxidant oleocanthal, which also has anti-inflammatory properties, just like the ibuprofen drug.
Another phenolic compound, hydroxytyrosol (HT), helps protect the blood vessel cells.
They protect the lining cells of the blood vessels from the reactive oxygen molecules – keeping the cellular wall of blood vessels strong.
Fact 3: Olive oil is rich in Vitamin E
Vitamin E is also an antioxidant. Its special properties help in protecting the skin from harmful oxygen-free radicals.
It can also help delay the aging process and prevent memory loss.
According to the nutrition label, 100g of fresh extra-virgin oil contains 14.39 mcg of the Vitamin E component. This is good enough as it is nearly 93% of recommended daily intake for adults.
Fact 4: Olive oil is a good source of Vitamin K
Vitamin K helps in promoting osteotrophic activity in the bone and this cause an increase in bone mass.
It also helps in limiting the neuronal damage in the brain of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
The amount of Vitamin K in olive oil is nearly 59% of the recommended daily intake for adults.
Fact 5: Olive oil has high levels of monounsaturated fat and good polyunsaturated fat
The saturated fats (SFA), monounsaturated fats (MUFA), and the polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) exist in the ratio 14:77:9, which is a healthy proportion.
The more the MUFA in your food, the healthier it is because both, MUFA and PUFA are healthy fats.
The two polyunsaturated fats that add to the glory of olive oils are Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
These are neither produced much in the body nor available in food, except certain seeds, fishes, and fish oil.
Olive oil serves as a good source of these much needed PUFA that help maintain heart health and lower blood cholesterol levels.
Fact 6: Olive oil contains high levels of phytosterols
Olive oil has more health benefits because it comes from a vegetable source. Therefore, it contains high levels of plant sterols. These help in the reduction of total cholesterol levels.
This is what the FDA has to say about the plant sterol phytosterols:
“Foods containing at least 0.4 gram per serving of plant sterols, eaten twice a day with meals for a daily total intake of at least 0.8 gram, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease“.
This is also a great reminder to include fruits and vegetables in our daily diet.
These were the nutritional facts that are responsible for the health benefits of olive oil.
Olive oil is different and better than many other oils because it is extracted from the olive berries instead of nuts and seeds. It therefore contains large amounts of plant-derived anti-oxidants, phyto-sterols, and vitamins.
Important Health Benefits Of Olive Oil
Speaking of the olive oil health benefits, let’s just slightly know them.
- CANCER – The anti-inflammatory properties of olive oil help decrease the risk of breast cancer.
- HEART DIESEASE – The heart-healthy properties of olive oil help lower the levels of triglycerides, LDL-cholesterol, and total blood cholesterol. It thus reduces the risk of heart disease.
- BLOOD PRESSURE – Olive oil helps decrease body blood pressure, both systolic and diastolic.
- STROKE – The anti-blood clotting property of olive oil helps reduce the chances of suffering from stroke. Read more here.
Apart from these diseases and health conditions, use of olive oil in a typical Mediterranean diet consisting of fruits, nuts, and vegetables also helps reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoporosis.
Adopting the Mediterranean Diet also helps to prevent or reduce the risk of obesity.
No wonder the Mediterranean Diet does wonder because it has high nutritional value. And with the added magic of olive oil, it only gets better!
You might also like to read this article to know about the various studies done to prove the health benefits of olive oil for all the parts of our body.
6 Myths Of Olive Oil And Its Benefits
While all is good about olive oil, there are certain misconception about olive oil and its benefits.
Myth 1: Olive oil is a silver bullet to all problems
The nutritional properties and resulting health benefits of olive oil cannot be challenged or negated. However, it should be noted that olive oil by itself is no cure to all remedies.
The magic of olive oil is best experienced when it is used along with diet similar to the typical Mediterranean diet.
Myth 2: More intake of olive oil leads to more health benefits
Olive oil has high energy levels and is a concentrated source of calories. Olive oil is more calorie dense than pure refined sugar.
One pound of olive oil yields 4000 calories, whereas the same quantity of sugar gives 1725 calories.
Therefore, olive oil should be used in little quantity. High intake of olive oil can lead to obesity and health problems.
Myth 3: If you consume olive oil, you do not need to exercise
You not only need a diet similar to the Mediterranean Diet to make good use of the nutritional value of olive oil, you also need to complement your lifestyle with daily routine exercises.
This is because natural physical labor is a part of the Mediterranean lifestyle and it also affects the Mediterranean Diet.
No matter what diet you follow and which oil you consume, there is no excuse of not exercising!
Myth 4: You can eat anything if you use olive oil
Again, olive oil is no magic potion that will change the nutritional value of food when added to it. It should be used such that it replaces the food that is less beneficial.
For example, you have to use olive oil as a substitute to butter and margarine and not use it along with them.
Even the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) comes with this statement:
“Limited and not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that eating about 2 tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to the monounsaturated fat in olive oil. To achieve this possible benefit, olive oil is to replace a similar amount of saturated fat and not increase the total number of calories you eat in a day.”
Myth 5: All olive oils are equal and have the same nutritional value and health benefits
Olive oil generally comes in four grades for edible purposes.
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is the best and comes with the most benefits. Even EVOO from different companies and countries might differ in their nutrition value.
The lower or lighter olive oil might not give all the benefits that come with EVOO.
Myth 6: Olive oil is like wine, older the better
In fact, it is quite the opposite. Fresh olive oil has the highest nutritional value and this depletes with time. However, the olive harvest from old olive trees is more valuable.
Fresh olive oil will retain more of its nutritional quality. The polyphenols, which are one of the most important ingredients of olive oil, deplete, as the olive oil loses its freshness.
Read more about the polyphenols and health benefits of olive oil here.
Olive oil is certainly a better choice as its nutritional value is much better than many other kinds of oil, but there are some who do not accept its claims and have critical opinions. Read this article if you want to know all about it.
Now, if you use EVOO, it’s going to cost you a lot, especially if you are not living in the olive oil producing area.
However, if you use it in lesser quantities, mostly spraying rather than pouring it out, it may last long and become cost effective.
The good olive oil can come from any country, not necessarily a part of the Mediterranean basin, like Australia, America, and South America etc.
There are different grades of olive oil and not all provide the same nutritional value or all the health benefits. Next time when you shop for olive oil, check out its nutrition label.
Not all claims of the health benefits of olive oil have been scientifically proven and verified. There are many myths about olive oil, which certainly works best with a particular type of diet.
However, you can even make your present diet healthier without the use of olive oil. You just need to make sure that your diet contains plenty of leafy greens, beans, fruits, and whole grains.
Also, if you’re not a vegetarian, then have more of seafood and lean meat, and less of eggs and red meat.
I hope these facts and myths of olive oil will help you decide whether you want to make olive oil a part of your diet or not.
Over To You –
Do you use olive oil in your diet? If not, why, and if you use it, have you observed anything positive about it? Do you believe in the nutritional value and health benefits of olive oil? Share in the comments.
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