THE HEALTH BENEFITS of 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

What does ‘Extra Virgin’ Olive Oil mean?

According to the International Olive Oil Council (IOOC), extra-virgin olive oil should come only from virgin oil productions and contain no more than .8 percent acidity. During the extraction process, no chemicals should be used. Extra-virgin olive oil should be cold-pressed, which means that no heat over a certain temperature was used during processing.

Then of course, there’s the taste. Olive oils with the extra-virgin designation should have superior flavour and aroma. It is recommended that they be used in salad dressings, to dip bread in, or to drizzle on top of sauces. Extra-virgin olive oils are fragile. Exposure to light can lead to their deterioration.

The labels “pure olive oil” and just plain old “olive oil” indicate a blend of refined and virgin production oil. Olive pomace oil is obtained by using chemicals in the extraction.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil contains Oleocanthal which produces a peppery, stinging sensation at the back of the throat, similar to that of the anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen. This led to the hypothesis that the perceptual similarity between oleocanthal and ibuprofen may indicate similar pharmacological properties.

Olive oil and the cardiovascular system

Olive oil is the main source of dietary fat in the Mediterranean diet, which is associated with a low death rate from cardiovascular diseases compared to other parts of the world.

Maria-Isabel Covas, at the Parc de Recerca Biomèdica de Barcelona, Spain, carried out an extensive review of studies that had focused on the biological and clinical effects of olive oil. The study was published in the journal Pharmacological Research. The study found that people who regularly consume olive oil are much less likely to develop cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, and hyperlipidemia (high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels).

Covas also found that regular olive oil intake helps reduce inflammation, endothelial dysfunction (problems with the inner linings of blood vessels), thrombosis and carbohydrate metabolism.

Covas concluded "The wide range of *anti-atherogenic effects associated with olive oil consumption could contribute to explain the low rate of cardiovascular mortality found in Southern European Mediterranean countries, in comparison with other western countries, despite a high prevalence of coronary heart disease risk factors."

*Anti-atherogenic means preventing the hardening of the arteries and the development of atherosclerosis.

Olive oil helps prevent stroke

Dr. Cécilia Samieri, from the University of Bordeaux and the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) in Bordeaux, France, and colleagues reported in the journal Neurology that olive oil may prevent strokes in older people. 

The team found that older people who regularly used olive oil for cooking and salad dressing or with bread had a 41% lower risk of stroke, compared with their counterparts who never consumed it.

Dr. Samieri said, "Stroke is so common in older people and olive oil would be an inexpensive and easy way to help prevent it."

How extra virgin olive oil protects against alzheimer's disease

Oleocanthal is a type of natural phenolic compound found in extra-virgin olive oil. In laboratory experiments with mice, researchers discovered that oleocanthal helps shuttle the abnormal Alzheimer's disease proteins out of the brain.

As background information, the researchers explained that Alzheimer's disease rates are lower in Mediterranean countries, where consumption of olive oil is higher than anywhere else in the world. Amal Kaddoumi and team set out to determine whether oleocanthal might help reduce the accumulation of beta-amyloid, believed to be the culprit of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Their study was published in the journal Chemical Neuroscience.

The team tracked the effects of oleocanthal in the cultured brain cells and brains of laboratory mice.

They found that in both cultured brain cells and the mice's brains themselves oleocanthal consistently boosted the production of two proteins and key enzymes known to be vital in the removal of beta-amyloid from the brain.

The study authors concluded "Extra-virgin olive oil-derived oleocanthal associated with the consumption of Mediterranean diet has the potential to reduce the risk of AD or related neurodegenerative dementias."

(Quotes taken from Medical News Today MNT -


  • Depression risk lower with olive oil, higher with trans fats.
  • Olive oil may reduce breast cancer risk.
  • Olive oil helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

What is the nutritional value of 100g (3.5oz) of olive oil?

  • Energy - 3,701 kJ (885 kcal)
  • Carbohydrates - 0 g
  • Protein - 0 g
  • Vitamin E - 14 mg (93% of recommended daily intake for adults)
  • Vitamin K - 62 μg (59% of recommended daily intake for adults).
  • Fat - 100 g.
         - saturated 14 g
         - monounsaturated 73 g
         - polyunsaturated 11 g
         - omega-3 fat 1.5 g
         - omega-6 fat 3.5-21 g