15 Incredible Health Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

If you’re looking for a simple way to boost your overall health, look no further than extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). This liquid gold has been a staple in Mediterranean diets for centuries. Packed with powerful antioxidants, healthy fats, and anti-inflammatory compounds, EVOO offers a wide range of impressive health benefits. This article will discuss 15 Incredible Health Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

What is Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

Extra virgin olive oil is a type of olive oil that is extracted from olives using mechanical methods, without the use of heat or chemicals. It is considered the highest quality olive oil, as it retains the most nutrients and has the best flavor.

To be classified as extra virgin, the oil must meet strict standards, including:

  • Being produced entirely by mechanical means, without the use of solvents or excessive heat
  • Having an acidity level of less than 0.8%
  • Possessing superior taste and aroma

EVOO is rich in monounsaturated fats, particularly oleic acid, which has been linked to numerous health benefits. It also contains high levels of antioxidants, such as polyphenols and vitamin E.

How to Choose a Good Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Health Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

15 Incredible Health Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1. Supports Heart Health

One of the most well-known benefits of extra virgin olive oil is its ability to support cardiovascular health. The high content of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) in EVOO can help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and increase “good” HDL cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Studies have shown that consuming olive oil regularly can help:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce inflammation in the body
  • Prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which can lead to atherosclerosis

The polyphenols found in EVOO, such as oleocanthal and oleuropein, also contribute to its cardioprotective effects by acting as powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents.

2. Rich in Antioxidants

EVOO is loaded with powerful antioxidants like oleocanthal, oleuropein, and vitamin E. These compounds help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body, protecting cells from oxidative damage and reducing inflammation.

Some of the key antioxidants found in extra virgin olive oil include:

  • Oleocanthal: This compound has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties similar to ibuprofen.
  • Oleuropein: A potent antioxidant that may help protect against chronic diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s.
  • Vitamin E: A fat-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells from damage caused by free radicals.

The high antioxidant content of EVOO is one of the main reasons it’s considered a superfood and a staple in the Mediterranean diet.

3. May Help Prevent Certain Cancers

Studies suggest that the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties of extra virgin olive oil may help reduce the risk of certain cancers, such as breast, colon, and prostate cancer.

The oleocanthal in EVOO has been shown to have a potent anti-inflammatory effect. This may help prevent the development and progression of cancer cells.

Additionally, the polyphenols in olive oil have been found to have chemopreventive properties. This means they may help prevent the formation of cancerous tumors.

4. Promotes Brain Health

The polyphenols found in EVOO have been shown to have neuroprotective effects, potentially reducing the risk of age-related cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Studies have found that the oleocanthal in extra virgin olive oil may help:

  • Reduce the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain, which are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Improve memory and learning ability in animal models of Alzheimer’s
  • Protect against oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain, which can contribute to cognitive decline

Incorporating EVOO into your diet, along with other brain-healthy foods like fatty fish and leafy greens, may help keep your mind sharp as you age.

5. Aids in Weight Management

Despite being high in calories, research indicates that consuming EVOO as part of a balanced diet may actually help with weight management. The healthy fats in EVOO can promote feelings of fullness and satiety, reducing overall calorie intake.

A study published in the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology found that participants who followed a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil lost more weight and had a lower risk of metabolic syndrome compared to those who followed a low-fat diet.

The monounsaturated fats in EVOO have also been shown to help reduce belly fat. This is a risk factor for various chronic diseases.

Benefits of Olive Oil For Bladder
Benefits of Olive Oil

6. Improves Insulin Sensitivity

Incorporating extra virgin olive oil into your diet may help improve insulin sensitivity, which is crucial for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.

A study published in the Diabetes Care journal found that consuming a Mediterranean diet rich in EVOO improved insulin sensitivity and reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 40%.

The anti-inflammatory properties of EVOO may also help reduce inflammation in the body. This can contribute to insulin resistance and the development of diabetes.

7. Supports Digestive Health

The anti-inflammatory properties of EVOO can help soothe the digestive tract and may even reduce the risk of certain digestive disorders like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

The polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil have been shown to have a prebiotic effect, promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. A healthy gut microbiome is essential for proper digestion, nutrient absorption, and immune function.

Additionally, the monounsaturated fats in EVOO can help stimulate the production of bile. It is necessary for the digestion and absorption of fats.

8. Enhances Bone Health

Some studies suggest that the polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil may help improve bone mineralization and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, especially in older adults.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that consuming a Mediterranean diet enriched with EVOO increased bone formation markers and decreased bone resorption markers in elderly participants.

The anti-inflammatory effects of EVOO may also help reduce inflammation in the body. This can contribute to bone loss and the development of osteoporosis.

9. Boosts Immune Function

The antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds in EVOO can help support a healthy immune system, making it easier for your body to fight off infections and diseases.

The polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil have been shown to have antimicrobial properties, helping to combat harmful bacteria and viruses. Additionally, the vitamin E in EVOO acts as a powerful antioxidant, protecting immune cells from damage caused by free radicals.

Incorporating EVOO into your diet, along with other immune-boosting foods like citrus fruits, garlic, and ginger, can help keep your immune system functioning optimally.

10. Promotes Healthy Skin

Applying extra virgin olive oil topically or consuming it regularly can help keep your skin moisturized, supple, and protected from oxidative damage, thanks to its high content of vitamin E and other antioxidants.

The monounsaturated fats in EVOO can help improve skin elasticity and firmness, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The antioxidants in olive oil also help protect the skin from damage caused by UV radiation and environmental pollutants.

Some studies have even suggested that consuming olive oil regularly may help reduce the risk of skin cancer, thanks to its potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

11. May Reduce Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is linked to numerous health issues, from heart disease to cancer. The oleocanthal in EVOO has been shown to have potent anti-inflammatory properties, similar to ibuprofen.

The polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil help reduce the production of pro-inflammatory compounds in the body, such as cytokines and prostaglandins. By reducing inflammation, EVOO may help lower the risk of various chronic diseases and improve overall health.

12. Supports Joint Health

The anti-inflammatory effects of extra virgin olive oil may also help alleviate symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, reducing joint pain and stiffness.

A study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that the polyphenols in EVOO helped reduce inflammation and cartilage destruction in an animal model of osteoarthritis.

Incorporating EVOO into your diet, along with other anti-inflammatory foods like fatty fish, nuts, and leafy greens, may help manage joint pain and improve overall joint health.

13. Enhances Nutrient Absorption

Consuming EVOO with vegetables can actually increase the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and antioxidants, like vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as carotenoids.

The monounsaturated fats in extra virgin olive oil help facilitate the absorption of these essential nutrients. This ensures that your body can make the most of the healthy foods you eat.

For example, a study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that consuming salads with full-fat dressings, like those made with EVOO, increased the absorption of carotenoids compared to low-fat or fat-free dressings.

14. May Help Lower Blood Pressure

Studies have found that regular consumption of extra virgin olive oil can help lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Plus, it can reduce the risk of hypertension and related cardiovascular issues.

The polyphenols in EVOO, particularly oleuropein, have been shown to have vasodilatory effects, helping to relax blood vessels and improve blood flow. Additionally, the monounsaturated fats in olive oil can help reduce inflammation in the body, which can contribute to high blood pressure.

Incorporating EVOO into a balanced diet, along with other blood pressure-lowering foods like leafy greens, berries, and low-fat dairy, may help keep your blood pressure in check.

15. Versatile and Delicious

Not only is extra virgin olive oil incredibly healthy, but it’s also delicious and versatile. Use it as a cooking oil, drizzle it over salads, or even enjoy it as a dip for crusty bread. The possibilities are endless!

Some delicious ways to incorporate EVOO into your meals include:

  • Drizzling it over roasted vegetables or grilled meats
  • Using it as a base for homemade salad dressings and marinades
  • Adding a splash to soups and stews for extra flavor and nutrition
  • Dipping whole-grain bread into a mixture of EVOO and balsamic vinegar
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Potential Side Effects and Precautions

While EVOO is generally safe and well-tolerated, there are a few potential side effects and precautions to keep in mind:

  • Digestive issues: Consuming large amounts of EVOO may cause digestive discomfort, such as diarrhea or stomach pain, in some individuals.
  • Allergic reactions: Olive oil allergies are rare but can occur. Symptoms may include itching, swelling, and difficulty breathing. If you experience any of these symptoms after consuming EVOO, seek medical attention immediately.
  • Medication interactions: EVOO may interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners. If you are taking any medications, consult with your healthcare provider before adding EVOO to your diet.
  • Calorie content: While EVOO is a healthy fat, it is still high in calories. Consuming too much can lead to weight gain if not balanced with a healthy diet and regular physical activity.

How to Choose Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

With so many options available, choosing a high-quality EVOO can be overwhelming. Here are some tips to help you select the best EVOO for your needs:

  • Look for a harvest date: The fresher the oil, the better the flavor and health benefits. Choose an EVOO with a harvest date within the past year.
  • Check the origin: Opt for EVOO from a single country or region, such as Italy, Spain, or California. This ensures a consistent flavor profile and quality.
  • Choose dark bottles: Light can cause EVOO to deteriorate, so choose oils packaged in dark glass or tin containers.
  • Avoid clear bottles: Clear bottles allow light to penetrate, which can cause the oil to go rancid more quickly.
  • Read the label: Look for terms like “extra virgin,” “first cold press,” and “unfiltered.” Avoid oils labeled as “light” or “pure,” as these are often lower quality.
  • Taste before you buy: If possible, taste the oil before purchasing to ensure it meets your flavor preferences. High-quality EVOO should have a fruity, peppery, or slightly bitter taste.


1. What’s the difference between extra virgin olive oil and regular olive oil?

Extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality olive oil available. It is made from pure, cold-pressed olives, whereas regular olive oil is a blend of cold-pressed and processed oils.

EVOO has a superior taste and aroma and contains higher levels of antioxidants and bioactive compounds compared to regular olive oil.

2. How should I store extra virgin olive oil?

To maintain the quality and freshness of your EVOO, store it in a cool, dark place away from heat and light. Avoid storing it near the stove or in direct sunlight. It’s best to consume EVOO within 3-6 months of opening the bottle for optimal flavor and health benefits.

3. Can I cook with extra virgin olive oil?

Yes, you can cook with EVOO! Contrary to popular belief, EVOO is stable at high temperatures and is suitable for cooking. Cooking with EVOO can increase the bioavailability of its beneficial compounds. However, for maximum health benefits, it’s best to use EVOO for low to medium-heat cooking or as a finishing oil.

4. How much extra virgin olive oil should I consume daily?

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommends consuming about 20g (about 2 tablespoons) of EVOO daily to reap its health benefits. However, it’s important to keep in mind that EVOO is still fat and should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

5. Can extra virgin olive oil go bad?

Yes, like any other oil, EVOO can go rancid over time. Signs of rancidity include a bitter or off-taste, a musty aroma, and a color change. To prevent your EVOO from going bad, store it properly and consume it within 3-6 months of opening the bottle.