Is olive oil good for you? Uncovering the facts on ‘The Good Oil’

We’re often asked about proven olive oil benefits: olive oil nutrition, olive oil calories – and the power of extra virgin olive oil. The good news is that it doesn’t just taste great: studies demonstrate olive oil’s positive effects on our hearts, brains, joints and more.

Olive oil nutrition: healthy fats

Olive oil consists mostly of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). Studies suggest that a MUFA-rich Mediterranean diet can help reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. According to the Australian Heart Foundation, unsaturated fats can also help improve cholesterol levels by decreasing bad (LDL) cholesterol and increasing good (HDL) cholesterol – to help lower your risk of heart disease.

Olive oil: an antioxidant powerhouse

Quality extra virgin olive oil is rich in antioxidants, which are believed to have protective cardiovascular and anti-cancer effects. And it provides oleocanthal, a unique anti-inflammatory compound shown to work similarly to the anti-inflammatory drug, ibuprofen. Chronic inflammation is thought to be a key driver behind diseases like Alzheimer’s, type-2 diabetes, arthritis and metabolic syndrome. Some olive oils give an extra dose too: our Frantoio olive oil, for example, has such a high antioxidant value that it can be sipped by the tablespoon as a nutritional supplement.

Olive oil: benefits for cognitive and mental health

Research studies have found that in older populations, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil or nuts was associated with improved cognitive function, and may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. Olive oil has also been found to play a role in reducing the risk of depression as part of a healthy diet that includes a high intake of fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and oily fish.

Olive oil calories: the facts

OK, so how many calories in a tablespoon of olive oil? It may be relatively high at around 120 calories – but not all calories are created equal! As well as decreasing bad cholesterol, a research study in the European Journal of Nutrition suggests that unsaturated fatty acids (like those found in olive oil) can help people maintain a healthy weight more effectively than saturated fats. Further, evidence indicates that people who consume a Mediterranean-style diet usually have a lower body weight and are able to maintain it for longer.

Always make sure it’s the good oil

Extra virgin olive oil is not refined or extracted using chemicals or heat, leaving it high in natural antioxidants and healthy fats. For absolute peace of mind, you can’t do better than a pure Australian extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil.

And remember: it’s all part of a bigger picture

Olive oil alone won’t supercharge your health – but used as part of a Mediterranean-style diet, it’s a winner. In 2019, the World Health Organisation stated that “the Mediterranean diet is the most extensively studied dietary approach, in general as well as in relation to cognitive function.” WHO also said: “The Mediterranean-like diet may be recommended to adults with normal cognition and MCI to reduce the risk of cognitive decline and/or dementia.” To get started, we’ve got some great recipes using fresh seasonal produce.

So, here’s to health – and enjoy the good oil!

To get you started, browse our 100% Australian Premium Olive Oil products here from the light and herbaceous Corregioloa to the fruity and aromatic Frantoio.

Sources include:

  • Australian Heart Foundation
  • Healthline: [Content created, fact-checked, and reviewed by qualified writers, editors, clinicians, and other contributors.]