Health Benefits of Olive Oil

bottle of bertolli extra virgin olive oil

What are the health benefits of olive oil?

This healthy oil was first used thousands of years ago in Armenia and Turkistan, before reaching the Mediterranean.

Over the years, interest has been growing over the health benefits and long-term effects of eating a Mediterranean Diet. The diet focuses on eating vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruit, legumes, whole grains, seafood, fish and olive oil.

Numerous studies now show that populations that eat a diet including olive oil have a lower risk for certain cancers, diabetes, joint pain, inflammation, stroke and heart disease.

ingredient label from bottle of virgin olive oil

Ingredient Label from Virgin Olive Oil

All virgin olive oils will contain the following ingredients:

  1. Saturated Fats – contains palmitic acid, stearic acid, arachidic acid, behenic acid, myristic acid and lignoceric acid.
  2. Mono-unsaturated Fats – makes up almost 80% of the total fat content in olive oil and contains high amounts of oleic acid, as well as small amounts of palmitoleic acid.
  3. Polyunsaturated Fats – contains the Omega-6 fatty acid, linoleic acid and the Omega-3 fatty acid, linolenic acid.
  4. Vitamin E and K – though not listed on this label of Bertolli olive oil, you may get trace amounts of these vitamins in your olive oil, depending on the brand.

Over 12 Health Benefits from Olive Oil

1. Provides Antioxidant Protection

One of the main health benefits of olive oils is that they contain high amounts of compounds called polyphenols.

  • Polyphenols are naturally found in plant foods, fruits, vegetables, nuts and berries. Studies have shown that eating polyphenol-rich foods can help reduce disease and treat certain non-communicable diseases.
  • These compounds have also been shown to have antimicrobial action, fight oxidation, improve platelet and cellular function and can help reduce inflammation.

2. May Help Reduce Pain

Freshly-pressed extra-virgin olive oil contains oleocanthal, a phenolic compound with natural anti-inflammatory properties. It has been shown to act similar to ibuprofen by inhibiting the same enzymes and hormone activity that causes pain.

Oleocanthal can also help inflammatory-related diseases, including degenerative joint and brain disease, as well as reducing the risk for certain cancers.

3. Reduces Inflammation

Olive oils are an excellent source of oleic acid, a healthy fatty acid. Oleic acid has been shown to reduce C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker seen in many health conditions.

A Japanese study concluded that eating diets high in oleic acid resulted in significantly lower levels of inflammation.

4. May Reduce Risk for Bleeding Disorders

The vitamin K plays an important role in helping your blood clot. A deficiency in Vitamin K (though rare) may lead to anemia, bruising, heavy menstrual bleeding and nosebleeds. Vitamin K is also found in leafy green veggies, such as broccoli and spinach, with kale containing the highest amounts. A tablespoon of olive oil contains about 10 percent of the daily dose of vitamin K recommended for an adult.

5. Olive Oil May Reduce Risk of Stroke

Strokes are caused by bleeding or blood clot in the brain. According to, strokes are one of the leading causes of disability in developed countries and more than 140,000 people die from strokes in the United States alone.

  • A review study in Lipids Health Disease Journal looked at monounsaturated fatty acid and olive oils on health status. The review of 42 reports, including 842,211 people, concluded that olive oil is the only source of monounsaturated fatty acid associated with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • And a another study in Neurology Journal concluded that people that regularly used olive oil for cooking and salad dressing had a 41% lower risk of stroke, compared to those that didn’t consume the oil.

6. Protects Against Heart Disease

Olive oils play an integral part of the Mediterranean Diet, which has been shown to reduce your risk for heart disease.

Heart disease is one of the most common chronic diseases in the world.  Studies show olive oils can help lower your blood pressure. Other studies showed that the oleic acid in olive oil is responsible for the reduction in blood pressuer.

Eating diets that include monounsaturated fatty acids have also been shown to reduce your risk for blood clots, which can significantly enhance cardiovascular health health.

7. May Help Fight Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is common neurological condition that affects millions of people. One of the features of this condition is the build-up of protein-like plaques in the brain called ameyloid plaques. Recent studies have shown that a compound in olive oils may prevent the buildup of ameyloid plaques and even enhance the removal of these plaques from the brain.

Studies indicate that the compounds found in olive oil may also protect your brain and nervous system from aging, neuropathy, cerebral ischemia, Huntington’s disease, Multiple Schlerosis and Parkinson’s disease.

8. Olive Oils Reduce Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic joint disease that can affect the fingers, wrist, ankles and feet.  While the exact cause is unknown, current research believes that the immune system mistakenly attacks the joints, which causes inflammation, pain and swelling in and around the affected areas.

Population studies have shown that eating a Mediterranean Diet, which includes olive oil as the main fat source, can help reduce the stiffness and pain seen in inflammatory arthritis.

  • A recent study published in The Journal of Rehabilitation Nursing looked at the effectiveness of olive oil for controlling morning inflammatory pain in sixty (60) women with rheumatoid arthritis.  Researchers found that the olive oil helped to reduce the total number of painful and swollen joints in the fingers and knees and they recommended it as a viable treatment.
  • Combining fish oil with olive oil may offer an even more pronounced effect. A study by Brazilian researchers found that taking 9.6 ml/day of olive oil with 3 grams/day of fish oil for 24 weeks resulted in less morning stiffness and increased grip strength, which was better than taking the fish oil and olive oils separately.

9. May Help You Lose Weight and Lower Risk for Obesity

Eating a Mediterranean Diet may also help you lose weight and lower your risk for obesity.

A study published in International Journal of Obesity, involving 6319 participants, concluded that people gained less weight when they followed the Mediterranean Diet. And a three year study in Spain found that eating a diet high in olive oil was linked with higher antioxidant levels and weight loss.

10. Olive Oils May Reduce Risk of Cancer

Research shows that olive oils contain significant amounts of anti-cancer agents, called squalenes and terpenoids. These compounds were found to lower the incidence of developing certain cancers.

Scientists believe that up to 25% of colorectal cancers, 15% of all breast cancers, and about 10% of endometrial, pancreas and prostate cancers could be prevented if people change to a traditional Mediterranean diet.

A study review of 13,800 patients and 19 observational studies concluded that consumption of olive oil was associated with a lower risk for developing cancer, particularly breast cancer and cancers of the digestive system.

11. Reduce Risk of Type-2 Diabetes

Type-2 diabetes is one of the most common forms of the disease where your body doesn’t use insulin properly. Many people can control their blood sugar levels following a healthy diet and exercising. However, some people may need to take oral medications, or take insulin, to maintain proper blood sugar levels.

Research looking at Mediterranean Diets, that included olive oils, have shown it can lower your risk for Type-2 diabetes:

  • A study involving 418 subjects without diabetes followed a Low-Fat diet, or Mediterranean diets supplemented with either 1 liter/week of olive oil or 30 grams/day of nuts. After a 4 year period, researchers found that the participants who followed the Mediterranean diet with olive oil or nuts showed a 52% lower incidence of developing Type-2 diabetes, compared to the Low-Fat diet.
  • And a review of four studies involving 15,784 cases of Type-2 diabetes and 29 trials concluded that diets with the highest intake of olive oils showed a 16% lower risk of Type-2 diabetes with significantly lower blood sugar levels.

12. Use as an Natural Oil Hair Conditioner

If you’re looking for an easy and effective way to nourish and moisturize your hair, you can use olive oils as natural hair conditioners.

Some people apply olive oil directly to their hair after shampooing – leave it in for a few minutes and then rinse out. Others take it one step further by covering the hair in plastic and leaving the oil in the hair overnight before rinsing the following day.

13. Use for Healthy Skin Care

Want to know the beauty secret for many Mediterranean women? Many Italian women have used olive oil as a natural skin moisturizer to soften and prevent wrinkles.

But there’s much more to this healthy oil that just that.You can use this oil for natural skin care to prevent chapped lips, effectively remove make-up and soften dry rough patches of skin.


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