Olive oil has an important place in the Mediterranean diet, and the main aspect of this diet includes proportionally high consumption of olive oil.

The health benefits of olive oil are excellent, it contains a high level of monounsaturated fats, especially oleic acid, which studies suggest may be related to a reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease.

There is also evidence that the antioxidants in olive oil improve LDL cholesterol regulation and lower levels (bad cholesterol), and that it has other anti-inflammatory effects.

Olive oil is a type of fat extracted from the olive tree, which is a traditional tree in the Mediterranean basin. It is produced by crushing whole olives before the oil is extracted either by chemical or mechanical procedures. The health benefits of olive oil are enormous, one reason it has been named the Mediterranean miracle.

Olive oil is used in the cosmetic, pharmaceutical industry and even in the manufacture of soaps, in addition to cooking. Olive oil exists in a variety of grades depending on processing. For example, extra virgin olive oil is considered the premium type . It is produced from the first crushing of the olive and is extracted through cold pressing so no chemicals are added. Virgin oil is the second variety, obtained from the second pressing of the fruits and is considered the second best type. Refined olive oil is obtained from refined virgin olive and has an acidity level of more than 3.3%.

The oil contains phenolic antioxidants, terpenoids, and squalene, which are all anti-cancer compounds. The oil also has oleic acid that prevents chronic inflammation, as well as reducing the damage that free radicals cause to the cells of the body.

Here are some surprising health benefits of olive oil:

Olive oil and cancer

One of its main advantages is that it protects the body against skin, colon and breast cancer. A series of research studies have documented that consuming a healthy diet with olive oil as the main source of fat could significantly lower the incidence of cancer. This beneficial effect could be related to oleic acid, the predominant monounsaturated fatty acid in olive oil. However, it is not excluded that other constituents of olive oil, such as antioxidants, flavonoids, polyphenols and squalene can also have a positive influence. Squalene is believed to have a favorable effect on the skin by reducing the incidence of melanomas.And in fact, olive oil is one of the 14 main foods that protect against the development of cancer.

Olive oil and diabetes

A study that was published in the scientific journal Diabetes Care, indicated that any Mediterranean diet that has olive oil is capable of reducing type II diabetes by more than 50%. This is because the oil has monounsaturated fats like those found in seeds and nuts.

These fats are essential to reduce the risks of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer. A diet rich in olive oil , low in saturated fat, moderately rich in carbohydrates, and soluble fiber from fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains has been shown to be the most effective approach for diabetics. This type of diet improves blood sugar control and improves insulin sensitivity.

Olive oil and osteoporosis

Olive oil can be used to significantly reduce osteoporosis . Osteoporosis is a condition that means that your bones are weak, and that you are more likely to break a bone.

Osteoporosis literally means ‘porous bones’ and is often referred to as ‘brittle bone disease’ with an increased risk of hip, spine and wrist fractures. Osteoporosis is often called a “silent” disease because there are no noticeable symptoms until there is a bone fracture.

A trial carried out indicated that olive oil increases amounts of phosphorus, calcium and nitrates in the blood, which results in an improvement in bone thickness to reduce the appearance of the disease.

Olive oil and blood pressure

Blood pressure can be significantly balanced by ingesting sufficient amounts of olive oil . Research indicates that it is essential in reducing diastolic and systolic blood pressure. It is useful for people who eat a diet rich in high amounts of fat, which is why three tablespoons of oil each day significantly lower blood pressure.

Olive oil and cholesterol

The amount of good and bad cholesterol in the body can be controlled by olive oil. The cholesterol considered bad in the body is LDL cholesterol, which can be controlled by olive oil, since it contains monounsaturated fats. Olive oil will also increase the amounts of HDL cholesterol, which is considered the best type of cholesterol in the body.

Olive oil and depression

Olive oil has also been said to control depression. A Spanish study revealed that people who take hydrogenated fats found mainly in processed food substances had a 48% risk of suffering from depression.

Additionally, the researchers found that higher consumption of olive oil and the polyunsaturated fats found in fatty fish and vegetable oils was associated with a lower risk of depression.

So in essence, it is an essential type of oil that is recommended for use when possible in place of animal fats like butter. You can greatly enhance the benefits of olive oil by consuming it with foods that are part of the Mediterranean diet.

These anti-inflammatory benefits of extra virgin olive oil do not depend on high levels of ingestion. As little as 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil per day has been shown to be associated with significant anti-inflammatory benefits.


By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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