Olive oil is the name of the oil derived from the olive fruit, which grows on the olive tree.
Olive oil has been a staple in the diets of many people for thousands of years, but it’s never been more popular than today. Many people are turning to this oil because of the high nutritional content and the many health benefits it provides.
Most of us tend to shy away from fats when we switch to a healthy eating habit. However, not every fat in our diet is harmful. A few oils like coconut oil and avocado oil has been proven to provide us with many useful health benefits.
One of the healthiest oils you can add to your meals is extra-virgin olive oil.
The olive tree is widely grown throughout the Mediterranean region of the world and is a staple on any Mediterranean diet.
This article explores all that you need to know about olive oils and examines the many health benefits.
How do They Make Olive Oil?
Farmers pick the olive fruits when they are matured. Most farmers produce their own olive oil, but some sell the fruit on to other producers.
The fresh fruit is crushed and ground into a paste. They then stir and press the paste to remove the oil through a process referred to as maceration. The spin the resulting liquid in a centrifuge to separate the oil from the water. This final process produces what we know as olive oil.
The Different Types of Olive Oil
There are three main types of olive oil. These are refined, unrefined, and extra virgin olive oil.
Let’s explore each type briefly.
Refined Olive Oil
This is the lowest quality olive oil on the market. It uses high heat and solvents to neutralize the olive taste of the oil, which means producers tend to use the lowest quality fruits to produce this type of olive oil.
Producers of refined olive oil source their fruits from several producers and are not too concerned about the quality because they chemically remove any bad taste that these fruits may produce.
When you go shopping, look out for the words “pure olive oil” or simply “olive oil” on the label. These are the refined oils.
Unrefined Olive Oil
This is the next best thing after extra virgin olive oil. Producers do not use chemicals to refine the oil.
The production process of unrefined olive oil needs the use of quality fruits because they can’t use chemicals to remove any bad tastes in the oil.
In unrefined olive oil, the entire process involves simply extracting and bottling the oil. There is no chemicals or high temperatures involved. Unrefined oils include “extra virgin” and “virgin” olive oils.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
The highest quality olive oil on the market is the extra virgin olive oil. It has strong and delicious flavors and taste. Producers have to produce their oil to meet some set chemical composition benchmarks to earn that “extra virgin” seal of quality.
They only use the highest quality fruits, and the producers go to great lengths to ensure the quality of the oil is not affected by sunlight and other conditions. They usually bottle this type of olive oil in dark (mostly dark-green) glass bottles to block out most heat sources, which could oxidize the oil.
Extra virgin olive oil contains more nutrients than the other types and, therefore, provide more health benefits as well.
It is not a cheap oil so if you see a cheap bottle of oil claiming to be extra virgin olive oil; chances are they are not. They are produced from high-quality fruits which are expensive, so no genuine producer is going to sell their product cheap.
How Many Calories in Olive Oil?
Fats account for 100% of the calories in olive oil. A single tablespoon (13.50 grams) of olive oil contains 119.35 calories. The calories in olive oil are basically the same as the number of calories in animal and vegetable oils. The difference is in the nutrition and chemical composition of the various types of oils.
Not all Calories are the same.
A calorie in olive oil does not have the same effect on the body as a calorie in vegetable oil. So, while you may be interested in knowing how many calories are in olive oil, studies show that you shouldn’t worry too much about the number, but how it affects your body.
For example, 20 calories from vegetable oil may cause you to gain weight while 100 calories from olive oil will not produce the same effect. It may even help you lose weight.
One study examined the effects of four types of 1,000-calorie diets on a person’s weight. The diets were a high-carb diet, a high-protein diet, a high-fat diet, and a diet that is a regular mix of the various ingredients.
The researchers discovered that the people who at the high-carb diet gained weight, even though their diet only provided them with 1,000 calories a day. Those who ate the high-protein diet actually lost weight, but the most weight loss occurred in the group that ate the high-fat diet.
Studies show that the best types of diets for weight loss are those that are low in carbs and sugars, but high in protein and fats.
Therefore, you should not be overly worried about how many calories are in olive oil because these are good calories.
Olive Oil Nutrition – What are the nutrients in extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)?
The most nutritious of the olive oils is the extra virgin olive oil. The only macronutrient is fat. It contains zero carbs or protein.
The other nutrition contents are vitamins and minerals, some of which have antioxidant properties.
Here’s a list of some of the main nutrition content of one tablespoon (13.50 grams) of extra virgin olive oil.
- 9.85 grams of monounsaturated fat
- 1.42 grams of polyunsaturated fat
- 1.86 grams of saturated fat
- 1.32 grams of omega-6 fatty acids
- 0.10 grams of omega-3 fatty acids
- 1.94 milligrams of vitamin E (13% of RDI)
- 8.13 micrograms of vitamin K (9% of RDI)
Other nutrients include small amounts of calcium, iron, potassium, sodium, and choline.
One criticism labeled at olive oil is the high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3. However, you shouldn’t really worry about this because it still has a relatively low polyunsaturated fat content.
Conclusion: The nutrition profile of extra virgin olive oil is more impressive than almost every other type of oil. 100% of the calories come from fats but it also contains minerals and vitamins like vitamins E and K. It is also high in antioxidants, which provide many of the health benefits.
Olive Oil Health Benefits
It seems every new day brings discoveries of new health benefits of olive oil. It is the healthiest oil you can add to your diet.
Research is only scraping the surface when it comes to the many ways eating olive oil could improve your health.
Olive oil is a staple of the Mediterranean diet, which is the type of food eaten by some of the healthiest communities in the world.
Olive oil has a positive effect on a few diseases. Let’s briefly look at a few of them.
Benefits of Olive oil For Cancer
Oleocanthal is a phytonutrient present in olive oil that can produce the effects an anti-inflammatory drug, ibuprofen. It may help lower the risk of getting breast cancer or reduce the risk of a recurrence (e)
Researchers are also studying the effects of some other constituents of olive oil, including lignans and squalene, on cancer.
Benefits for Heart Disease
Olive oil may have a positive effect on some of the risk factors for heart disease. It helps lower the levels of total and LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol in the blood. It also lowers blood triglycerides levels, while it does not affect HDL (the “good”) cholesterol levels.
Some studies suggest it may even raise HDL cholesterol levels. This effect of olive oil can lower the risk of heart disease.
It May Help Reduce or Prevent Oxidative Stress
The nutrition and antioxidant content of olive oil can help prevent oxidative stress. It is high in several antioxidants, including vitamin E. Studies shows that vitamin E may help lower the risk of getting cancer.
Olive oil is also high in monounsaturated fat, which is not oxidized in the body, but low in the easily oxidized polyunsaturated fat.
Animal studies concluded that extra virgin olive oil could help prevent oxidative stress (f)
Benefits of Olive Oil for Blood Pressure Levels
New research suggests that eating olive oil regularly may help lower blood pressure (both systolic and diastolic).
One study showed that eating 30 to 40 grams of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) a day for six months helped lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.
The study carried out by researchers from the University of California found that eating EVOO with a high content of phenols can lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure more effectively than the DASH diet, which is recommended for people with high blood pressure.
The review study concluded that eating about two tablespoons of high-phenol EVOO may help lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.
Benefits for Diabetes
Some studies indicate that olive oil may cause the levels of the “bad” low-density lipoproteins to fall. It may also improve insulin sensitivity and help regulate blood sugar control.
People were usually asked to eat low-fat diets to help prevent some chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Some studies even found that you may be at a high risk of diseases like diabetes and cancer if you eat a high-fat diet.
However, recent studies show that it is not the amount of fat, but the type of fat that is problematic. Oils high in monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, coconut oil, almond oil and other nut oils, may actually help protect against these diseases.
One study found that eating a Mediterranean style diet high in olive oil may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes by a whopping 50% (g)
Olive Oil May Help Fight Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a bone health disorder, which causes the bone to be brittle and produces a loss of bone tissue. People with osteoporosis can easily fracture their bone.
One study found that taking olive oil supplements helped increase bone density. This effect will benefit people with osteoporosis or help prevent it in the first place.
Olive oil may not be a standalone treatment for osteoporosis, but research shows that it has the potential to be an effective remedy for this disease in the future.
Olive Oil May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Research suggests that the oleocanthal content of extra virgin olive oil may help lower the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease. Eating EVOO regularly may also help reduce the symptoms of the disease, such as aging-related cognitive decline.
One of the biggest factors in aging is oxidative stress. Olive oil contains potent antioxidants like polyphenols, which can help prevent or reverse the damage caused by oxidation.
These effects of olive oil can help lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Benefits of Olive Oil for Skin Cancer
A new study indicates that eating meals high in olive oil, such as the Mediterranean diet may help prevent malignant melanoma, which is the most serious type of skin cancer.
This is also a benefit we can attribute to the powerful antioxidant content of olive oil. It helps counter the damaging oxidizing effect of the sun’s radiation.
Of course, you shouldn’t ditch your sunscreen just because you eat a Mediterranean diet that is high in extra virgin olive oil. Sunscreen is still the most effective protection against the sun’s radiation, but eating meals high in olive oil and other components of the Mediterranean diet may help counter the effects of the sun’s radiation.
Statistics show that there’s an extremely low rate of skin cancer among Mediterranean communities.
Is Olive Oil Good for You?
Yes, olive oil is good for you. It provides many health benefits, and we still don’t know about all the benefits of eating this healthy oil.
It is very easy to incorporate it into your meals. You can use it to fry omelets and use it as a salad dressing.
We don’t know of any side effects, so there’s really no reason why olive oil is not good for you. Just read about all the health benefits it provides.
How to Buy Olive Oil?
As we mentioned earlier, there is so much inferior olive oil on the market, and even some products labeled as extra virgin are actually sub-standard olive oil.
You should know what to look out for when buying olive oil, especially extra virgin. Here are a few tips to help you buy the best olive oils.
- Check that the best-by date is at least a year away. You should also check that they indicate the “harvest date” on the bottle and that it was harvested within the past 12 months.
- Go to the official pages of olive oil awards competitions like the “New York International Olive Oil Competition,” which is the most valuable in the industry. Look through the list of winners to find the best brands.
- If they allow you to taste before you buy, that will be great. It lets you know exactly what you’re buying. The bitter the oil, the better.
- Extra virgin olive oil is not cheap. A lot of effort goes into making a high-quality extra virgin olive oil, so if you see a bottle of EVOO on the shelf that is unreasonably cheap, chances are it is really not EVOO.
Can You Cook With Olive Oil?
You can cook with it, but we strongly recommend against heating extra virgin olive oil. You pay a premium for the extra nutrition content and benefits. When you heat it, you lose some of those benefits.
Heating also alters the taste and flavor slightly. Most chefs use refined or virgin olive oil for cooking if heating is involved.
You can enjoy EVOO as a salad dressing or add it to smoothies and protein shakes.
Olive oil is not one of the best oils for frying, even though it can withstand heating relatively well.
Olive oil is good for you. You should use it in place of most of the oils you use for cooking.
It provides many health benefits, including benefits for heart health, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, bone health, depression, etc.
You’ll get the most benefits from eating high-quality oils like extra virgin olive oil.
In the end, it is a healthy and tasty oil that can be used in many ways.