Fact checkedFact Checked

This article is reviewed by a team of registered dietitians and medical doctors with extensive, practical clinical and public health experience.

 

10 Amazing Health Benefits Of Olive Oil, Uses & Nutrition Facts 2022

Cassi Donegan

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Dr G. Michael DiLeo, MD

healthiest cooking oil

Olive oil benefits go beyond its ability to help bake and fry to perfection. There’s also good news about its effects on the brain, anti-inflammatory properties, and ability to fight against cancer. 

Where does olive oil come from? It’s an extract from the fruit of olive trees called Olea europaea and dates back in popularity to when Ancient Greece Olympians began using it as a massage oil.

Eating olive oil may improve your health, and applying it topically can give a boost to your skin and hair

Olive oil appears to be a superfood you can risk putting more of on your plate. This article will examine several of this fruit’s benefits, from heart health to weight loss.

10 Surprising Health Benefits Of Olive Oil

  1. Antibacterial properties
  2. Improve bone health
  3. Control blood sugar
  4. Improve brain health
  5. Cancer prevention
  6. Fight inflammation
  7. Boost heart health
  8. Improve hair health
  9. Improve skin health
  10. Aid weight loss

Health Benefits Of Olive Oil

The list of green olive benefits is long, and its oil makes these benefits easily accessible for a variety of uses. Most olive oil production is in Spain and surrounding countries.

Chemicals and a heating process are usually used to make common cooking oils like sunflower oil and canola oil, but extra virgin olive oil and unrefined coconut oil are exceptions. One of its bonus benefits is how minimally processed it is. 

EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) isn’t made by using industrial solvents like Hexane or deodorized and bleached like many other oils. 

When you buy reputable olive oil, you’re getting an all-natural, nutrient-filled product that can benefit your overall health, similar to green superfood powder’s health-boosting characteristics. 

Antibacterial Properties

Some types of stomach cancers and ulcers are caused by a bacterium[1] called Helicobacter pylori.

Studies show extra virgin olive oil is able to kill harmful bacteria. All of the strains of this bacterium, even the strains that were antibiotic resistant, were able to be defeated by EVOO. 

Improve Bone Health

Olive oil contains several properties that may prevent osteoporosis and improve bone strength, including vitamin K and oleic acid. 

This study[2] shows consumption of olive oil increases bone mineral density, has bone-preserving properties, and may reduce the risk of fractures. 

Control Blood Sugar

The oleic acid in olive oil is reported[3] to be beneficial for metabolic syndrome[4], which includes high blood sugar as one of its risk factors. 

This study[5] shows the potential for diets containing extra virgin olive oil to improve insulin sensitivity. This could help manage or prevent diabetes and keep sugar levels balanced. (Metabolic syndrome is part of the pathology of type 2 diabetes.)

Improve Brain Health

Brain disease is an ongoing and growing problem. Olive oil is recommended[6] for consumption to help prevent disease. 

Mediterranean diets, including extra virgin olive oil[7], show potential for improving mental outlook and mood by reducing depression symptoms. 

Studies[8] link extra virgin olive oil supplementation with significant improvement in cognitive function, promoting healthy memory and brain function. 

Olive oil contains oleuropein and oleocanthal, compounds that assist the body in regenerating new and healthy cells, working against brain aging.

In this study[9], oleocanthal shows the potential to decrease Alzheimer’s disease symptoms and restore the blood-brain barrier in mice. 

Replacing[10] butter that’s filled with saturated fat with olive oil and monounsaturated fat has shown the potential to reduce the risk of death from brain disease by 38%. 

Cancer Prevention

Olive oil has many properties that fight against cancer and oxidative stress caused by cell-damaging free radicals. 

The oleocanthal is a compound only in extra virgin olive oil. This study[11] shows that oleocanthal-rich olive oil has the ability to cut cancer risk and kill cancer cells, which is a pretty outstanding finding. 

The polyphenols in olive oil[12] provide a lower risk of developing cancer. Consuming olive oil helps prevent breast cancer, skin cancer, and colorectal cancer. 

Fight Inflammation

If your doctor is treating you for pain, inflammation, and illness in your body, one of the labs they may draw is called C-reactive protein (CRP), a biological marker of inflammation. 

Olive oil is known to treat pain and is a safe way to potentially[13] lower your CRP if it comes back high in association with pain. 

Olive oil is a natural food that works to fight chronic inflammation that can cause deformed and painful joints. This study[14] showed supplementation with a combination of olive oil and fish oil can result in significant improvement of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. 

EVOO contains oleocanthal which can block specific enzyme activity that causes inflammation; it has shown potential to reduce[15] arthritis symptoms associated with pain-causing inflammation and mitigate the oxidative stress that causes cell damage. 

Boost Heart Health 

With high blood pressure affecting millions of people, it’s worth reporting any heart-healthy fats that fight against it. The fatty acids in olive oil are similar to fish oil in their ability to promote healthy blood cholesterol levels and blood vessels. 

One study[10] shows replacing unhealthy fats with olive oil’s healthy fat may provide a lower risk of heart failure by almost 20%. 

Olive oil is one of the best sources of oleic acid, an omega-9 fatty acid with multiple health benefits. Oleic acid may lower LDL cholesterol, and several studies have shown that a diet rich in olive oil may lower blood pressure. 

Extra virgin olive oil provides 10% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin E in a one-tablespoon serving. This review[16] shows vitamin E has anti-inflammatory properties and may provide a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. 

The National Institute of Health cites a study[16] involving 90,000 nurses showing those with the highest olive oil intake with vitamin E had a 30-40% reduction in heart disease. 

Improve Hair Health

Olive oil benefits for hair include increasing the shine and softness of your hair. Its nutrient-filled properties are beneficial for scalp wellness. The oil is used to help strengthen hair and prevent breakage. 

It may be good to help with hair loss and thinning. This study[17] in mice shows applying the compound oleuropein found in EVOO increased the size and growth of the animal’s hair. 

Improve Skin Health 

There’s an abundance of olive oil benefits for the skin thanks to the many vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and antioxidants it includes. It can help with dry skin with its ability to moisturize and hydrate.

This study[18] on mice shows applying olive oil reduced murine skin tumor size from ultraviolet light exposure, showing it works to fight against skin cell damage; a human study[19] corroborates these results.

There may be olive oil benefits for your face with its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties that can help fight against acne. 

Aid Weight Loss

One of the benefits of olive oil consumption is potential weight loss. Diets rich in oleic acid may help reduce overall body weight and composition[20], i.e., fat ratios, etc. 

A Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil is full of healthy fats, one of these being monounsaturated fatty acids, or MUFAs. 

A study[21] shows the potential for MUFAs to suppress the accumulation of body fat and weight gain. Replacing saturated fats with healthy fats can help reduce[22] body weight. 

Some people commonly use a combination of vitamin C-filled lemon and olive oil to promote weight loss. 

One study[23] involved mice who were given a high-fat diet and vitamin C for 15 weeks. At the end of the study, the mice had signs of better health and did not gain as much fat as the mice who were not given vitamin C.  

Nutrition Facts

How much olive oil should you consume? Dietary guidelines[24] recommend a diet rich in polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fats from olive oil and that it counts for 20-35% of your daily calories. 

Nutrition facts[25] are based on a one tablespoon size of extra virgin olive oil.

  • Calories: 124
  • Total fat: 14 grams 
  • Saturated fat: 1.933 grams
  • Monounsaturated fatty acids: 10.215 grams
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids: 1.473 grams
  • Total carbohydrate: 0 grams

How To Use Olive Oil?

When using and buying olive oil, you may want extra virgin olive oil instead of regular olive oil since the nutritional value of extra virgin oil is higher than regular. 

The less expensive “regular olive oil” uses extraction methods that reduce the potency of the beneficial ingredients. EVOO is cold-pressed to collect the oil. Olive oil should always be in a dark glass bottle to maintain its stability and freshness. 

Diet

When it comes to cooking methods, quality olive oil has a higher smoke point than most people expect. Even after heating[26] extra virgin olive oil, this superfood still maintained most of its nutritional value, unlike many cooking oils that lose nutrition in the high-heat cooking process. 

There are several types of olive oil to know about before purchasing: 

  • Extra virgin olive oils are the highest grade and least processed of oils, with a free fatty acid content of 0.8% or less. 
  • You’ll also see virgin olive oil, which is processed similarly to extra but may contain a high acidity content.
  • On the market, you’ll also find processed olive pomace oil extracted from the fruit’s pulp. This usually involves the solvent hexane. 
  • Refined olive oil is processed to create a mild-tasting oil, also known as Light or Lite olive oil. This kind of oil goes through processing involving solvents, bleaching, and deodorizing. 

There are many olive oil uses in cooking, frying, baking, etc.: 

  • Drizzled on sandwiches, or used to heat them like with grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Dipping sauces
  • On avocado toast for a double helping of healthy fats 
  • Drizzle over roasted veggies 
  • Salad dressings
  • Butter replacement 

Skin and Hair Care

There are several ways you can include olive oil in your skin care regimen:

  • Explore olive oil soap benefits for soft and refreshed skin
  • Makes a great chemical-free shaving moisturizer 
  • Include in your bath water for a moisturizing skin cell soak
  • Buy or make an olive oil hair or face mask for healthy skin and scalp 
  • Use as a lotion like coconut oil to enjoy its chemical-free and anti-bacterial benefits.

The Bottom Line: Is Olive Oil Good for You?

Olive oil benefits for males and females alike are many. The fruit from the olive tree is good for you, and olive oil may help protect against heart disease with its healthy fats. Its nutrient-dense profile helps prevent and reverse damage related to Alzheimer’s disease. 

If you’re on a low-fat diet, you can still include this as the percentage of fat you consume in a day. 

You can continue exploring olive oil benefits, and you will discover the side effects are very few. Potential problems come with allergic reactions to olives and their oil. 

If you experience itchy or swelling in your mouth after consuming the oil, you may want to check with your doctor to see if you have an intolerance or allergy.


+ 26 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

  1. Romero, C., Medina, E., Vargas, J., Brenes, M. and De Castro, A. (2007). In Vitro Activity of Olive Oil Polyphenols against Helicobacter pylori. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, [online] 55(3), pp.680–686. doi:10.1021/jf0630217.
  2. Roncero-Martín, R., Aliaga Vera, I., Moreno-Corral, L., Moran, J., Lavado-Garcia, J., Pedrera-Zamorano, J. and Pedrera-Canal, M. (2018). Olive Oil Consumption and Bone Microarchitecture in Spanish Women. Nutrients, [online] 10(8), p.968. doi:10.3390/nu10080968.
  3. Pastor, R., Bouzas, C. and Tur, J.A. (2021). Beneficial effects of dietary supplementation with olive oil, oleic acid, or hydroxytyrosol in metabolic syndrome: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, [online] 172, pp.372–385. doi:10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2021.06.017.
  4. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (2022). Metabolic Syndrome – What Is Metabolic Syndrome? | NHLBI, NIH. [online] www.nhlbi.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/metabolic-syndrome.
  5. Jurado-Ruiz, E., Álvarez-Amor, L., Varela, L.M., Berná, G., Parra-Camacho, M.S., Oliveras-Lopez, M.J., Martínez-Force, E., Rojas, A., Hmadcha, A., Soria, B. and Martín, F. (2019). Extra virgin olive oil diet intervention improves insulin resistance and islet performance in diet-induced diabetes in mice. Scientific Reports, [online] 9(1). doi:10.1038/s41598-019-47904-z.
  6. Sakurai, K., Shen, C., Shiraishi, I., Inamura, N. and Hisatsune, T. (2021). Consumption of Oleic Acid on the Preservation of Cognitive Functions in Japanese Elderly Individuals. Nutrients, [online] 13(2), p.284. doi:10.3390/nu13020284.
  7. Jacka, F.N., O’Neil, A., Opie, R., Itsiopoulos, C., Cotton, S., Mohebbi, M., Castle, D., Dash, S., Mihalopoulos, C., Chatterton, M.L., Brazionis, L., Dean, O.M., Hodge, A.M. and Berk, M. (2017). A randomised controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (the ‘SMILES’ trial). BMC Medicine, [online] 15(1). doi:10.1186/s12916-017-0791-y.
  8. Tsolaki, M., Lazarou, E., Kozori, M., Petridou, N., Tabakis, I., Lazarou, I., Karakota, M., Saoulidis, I., Melliou, E. and Magiatis, P. (2020). A Randomized Clinical Trial of Greek High Phenolic Early Harvest Extra Virgin Olive Oil in Mild Cognitive Impairment: The MICOIL Pilot Study. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, [online] 78(2), pp.801–817. doi:10.3233/jad-200405.
  9. ACS Chemical Neuroscience. (2019). Oleocanthal-Rich Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Restores the Blood–Brain Barrier Function through NLRP3 Inflammasome Inhibition Simultaneously with Autophagy Induction in TgSwDI Mice. [online] Available at: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acschemneuro.9b00175.
  10. Guasch-Ferre, M., Li, Y., Willett, W., Sun, Q., Sampson, L., Salas-Salvado, J., Martinez-Gonzalez, M.Á., Stampfer, M. and Hu, F. (2021). Consumption of Total Olive Oil and Risk of Total and Cause-Specific Mortality in US Adults. Current Developments in Nutrition, [online] 5(Supplement_2), pp.1036–1036. doi:10.1093/cdn/nzab053_029.
  11. Goren, L., Zhang, G., Kaushik, S., Breslin, P.A.S., Du, Y.-C.N. and Foster, D.A. (2019). (-)-Oleocanthal and (-)-oleocanthal-rich olive oils induce lysosomal membrane permeabilization in cancer cells. PLOS ONE, [online] 14(8), p.e0216024. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0216024.
  12. Gorzynik-Debicka, M., Przychodzen, P., Cappello, F., Kuban-Jankowska, A., Marino Gammazza, A., Knap, N., Wozniak, M. and Gorska-Ponikowska, M. (2018). Potential Health Benefits of Olive Oil and Plant Polyphenols. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, [online] 19(3), p.686. doi:10.3390/ijms19030686.
  13. Rahman, H.U., Mahmood, M.H., Sama, N.U., Afzal, M., Asaruddin, M.R. and Khan, M.S.A. (2022). Impact of Olive Oil Constituents on C-reactive Protein: In silico Evidence. Journal of Oleo Science, [online] 71(8), pp.1199–1206. doi:10.5650/jos.ess22008.
  14. Berbert, A.A., Kondo, C.R.M., Almendra, C.L., Matsuo, T. and Dichi, I. (2005). Supplementation of fish oil and olive oil in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Nutrition, [online] 21(2), pp.131–136. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2004.03.023.
  15. González Cernadas L;Rodríguez-Romero B;Carballo-Costa L (2014). [Importance of nutritional treatment in the inflammatory process of rheumatoid arthritis patients; a review]. Nutricion hospitalaria, [online] 29(2). doi:10.3305/nh.2014.29.2.7067.
  16. Nih.gov. (2020). Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin E. [online] Available at: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional/.
  17. Tong, T., Kim, N. and Park, T. (2015). Topical Application of Oleuropein Induces Anagen Hair Growth in Telogen Mouse Skin. PLOS ONE, [online] 10(6), p.e0129578. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0129578.
  18. Oup.com. (2022). [online] Available at: https://academic.oup.com/carcin/article/21/11/2085/2908770.
  19. Kugić, A., Dabelić, S., Brala, C.J., Dabelić, N. and Barbarić, M. (2022). Extra Virgin Olive Oil Secoiridoids Modulate the Metabolic Activity of Dacarbazine Pre-Treated and Treatment-Naive Melanoma Cells. Molecules, [online] 27(10), p.3310. doi:10.3390/molecules27103310.
  20. Tutunchi, H., Ostadrahimi, A. and Saghafi-Asl, M. (2020). The Effects of Diets Enriched in Monounsaturated Oleic Acid on the Management and Prevention of Obesity: a Systematic Review of Human Intervention Studies. Advances in Nutrition, [online] 11(4), pp.864–877. doi:10.1093/advances/nmaa013.
  21. Yang, S.-C., Lin, S.-H., Chang, J.-S. and Chien, Y.-W. (2017). High Fat Diet with a High Monounsaturated Fatty Acid and Polyunsaturated/Saturated Fatty Acid Ratio Suppresses Body Fat Accumulation and Weight Gain in Obese Hamsters. Nutrients, [online] 9(10), p.1148. doi:10.3390/nu9101148.
  22. Mumme, K. and Stonehouse, W. (2015). Effects of Medium-Chain Triglycerides on Weight Loss and Body Composition: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, [online] 115(2), pp.249–263. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2014.10.022.
  23. Lee, H., Ahn, J., Shin, S.S. and Yoon, M. (2018). Ascorbic acid inhibits visceral obesity and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease by activating peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor α in high-fat-diet-fed C57BL/6J mice. International Journal of Obesity, [online] 43(8), pp.1620–1630. doi:10.1038/s41366-018-0212-0.
  24. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020 -2025. (n.d.). [online] Available at: https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/DGA_2020-2025_ExecutiveSummary_English.pdf.
  25. Nutritionvalue.org. (2022). Olive oil nutrition facts and analysis. [online] Available at: https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Olive_oil_82104000_nutritional_value.html?size=1+tablespoon+%3D+14+g.
  26. Allouche, Y., Jiménez, A., Gaforio, J.J., Uceda, M. and Beltrán, G. (2007). How Heating Affects Extra Virgin Olive Oil Quality Indexes and Chemical Composition. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, [online] 55(23), pp.9646–9654. doi:10.1021/jf070628u.
Cassi Donegan

Medically reviewed by:

Michael DiLeo

Cassi Donegan, Licensed Practical Nurse, is a freelance health writer and editor. She has over 17 years of nursing experience in various specialties including Neurology, Orthopedics, Spine, and Pediatrics. Patient care has convinced her to be passionate about educating others on nutrition, natural childbirth, home birthing, and natural remedies for the holistic and alternative healthcare field.

Medically reviewed by:

Michael DiLeo

Harvard Health Publishing

Database from Health Information and Medical Information

Harvard Medical School
Go to source

Trusted Source

Database From Cleveland Clinic Foundation

Go to source

Trusted Source

Database From U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Governmental Authority
Go to source

WHO

Database from World Health Organization

Go to source

Neurology Journals

American Academy of Neurology Journals

American Academy of Neurology
Go to source

MDPI

United Nations Global Compact
Go to source

Trusted Source

Database From National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Go to source

Trusted Source

Database from U.S. National Library of Medicine

U.S. Federal Government
Go to source

Trusted Source

Database From Department of Health and Human Services

Governmental Authority
Go to source

PubMed Central

Database From National Institute Of Health

U.S National Library of Medicine
Go to source