What are the health benefits of olive oil and EVOO?

Created on 1st Dec 2023

There have been many studies conducted throughout the years on the benefits of olive oil so we here at Pomora wanted to summarise some of the findings – in short, olive oil is mega healthy and has great nutritional health benefits. Could it be a coincidence that the Mediterranean region of the world, places where olive oil is a staple part of the diet, has longer life expectancy and lower risks of heart disease, strokes and high blood pressure – in comparison to other Europeans and those in North America? The nutritional experts, many who constantly disagree on the health effects of oils and fats, all mostly agree that EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) has nutritional benefits and can be good for you.

So what is in olive oil that makes it allegedly so healthy? Let’s take a step back to establish exactly what olive oil is and what we mean by olive oil. Well, olive oil is the extracted oil from an olive (grown on an olive tree obtained by simply pressing the olive until the oil comes out. Oil that is obtained solely by olives and by mechanical and natural methods is called Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or EVOO, and is in effect the olive oil in its purest form and has a distinct purity, taste and smell. For more information, please see What is Extra Virgin Olive Oil?. However, there are lesser quality olive oils that have either been diluted with cheaper oils (such as canola and soya bean) or have been extracted using chemicals, so it is important to make the distinction – any health benefits of olive oil discussed are in relation to extra virgin olive oil only [you can rest assured that the Pomora extra virgin olive oil is 100% pure and natural!]. See here for The Difference Between Extra Virgin Olive Oil And Regular Olive Oil.

The health benefits of olive oil are largely attributed to its unique composition, as shown below with some standard olive oil nutritional values for 100g (3.5oz):

- Energy approx 3,700kj (885 kcal)
- Saturated Fat approx 14%
- Monounsaturated Fat approx 73%
- Polyunsaturated Fat approx 11%
- Omega-6 Fat around 10%
- Omega-3 Fat less than 1%
- Vitamin E around 80% of recommended adult daily intake
- Vitamin K around 65% of recommended adult daily intake
- No protein or carbohydrates

The summary of the above is, Extra Virgin Olive oil is full of beneficial fats – monounsaturated fatty acids are widely considered to be a healthy dietary fat unlike saturated fats - and rich in antioxidants, especially in Vitamin E. The Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio is over 10% which is cause for mild criticism from some quarters but as the levels of polyunsaturated fat is quite small, this ratio shouldn’t be an issue.

Below is a list of what the main health benefits of olive oil are:

Heart Health
EVOO, or Extra Virgin Olive Oil, is rich in monounsaturated fats, particularly oleic acid, which has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. It may help lower levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) while maintaining or increasing good cholesterol (HDL).

Antioxidant Properties
One of the key nutritional health benefits from extra virgin olive oil is the high volume of antioxidants. These are molecules that in effect prevent free radicals which can eventually lead to cell deterioration or cell death.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Oleocantha, the main antioxidant within olive, has been shown to operate in a similar way to ibuprofen in limiting inflammation, so can have a positive effect on limiting heart disease and some forms of cancer.

Cancer Prevention
Some studies suggest that the antioxidants in EVOO may have a protective effect against certain types of cancers, including breast and colorectal cancer. The anti-inflammatory properties may also play a role in cancer prevention.

Brain Health
The monounsaturated fats in Extra Virgin Olive Oil may support cognitive function and help reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline. Additionally, the antioxidants in EVOO may have neuroprotective effects.

Blood Sugar Regulation
EVOO has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, potentially aiding in the regulation of blood sugar levels. This can be beneficial for individuals with or at risk of type 2 diabetes.

Digestive Health
Extra Virgin Olive Oil may have a mild laxative effect and can help stimulate the digestive system. It is also believed to aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and minerals.

Weight Management
Despite being calorie-dense, the consumption of EVOO as part of a balanced diet may contribute to weight management. The monounsaturated fats can help promote a feeling of satiety, reducing the likelihood of overeating.

Joint Health
The anti-inflammatory properties of Extra Virgin Olive Oil may benefit individuals with inflammatory joint conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis. It may help alleviate symptoms and improve joint function.

Skin Health
EVOO is often used topically and may contribute to skin health due to its moisturizing properties. When consumed, the antioxidants in EVOO can also help protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals.

Although olive oil and EVOO offer numerous health benefits - use a high quality of olive oil (like Pomora!) - moderation is key.