Olive Oil: Nutritional Facts and Health Benefits

Olive (Olea europaea) is a drupe fruit (having a single seed inside the flesh) that belongs to the Oleaceae family. It is native to the Mediterranean region of Asia, Europe, and Africa. (1) It is a fruit from which oil is extracted. The oil is usually extracted by the re-esterification process. 

Three types of olive oil are found: virgin, refined, and pomace olive oil. (2)

It is high in glycerides like triacylglycerols (~99%), monoacylglycerols, and diacylglycerols. The oil also contains secondary fatty acids and lipids such as hydrocarbons, sterols, aliphatic alcohols, tocopherols, and pigments.

It also contains phenolic compounds like oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol, and other volatile compounds are also present. (3) These components are beneficial for preventing cardiovascular diseases, skin cancer, and diabetes. (4)

Olive is a small oval fruit that grows on the branches of a tree. It is green in the unripened stage and turns dark brown or black in the ripened stage. (5) The flavor of raw olive is bitter. The taste varies from mild salty to sweet. 

Olive is a good appetizer and an essential ingredient in pizza, pasta, and baked goods. It is used in salads, dibs, and stew. Its oil is used in cooking and for making medicines too. It is also added to make cosmetics, soaps, and fuel for traditional lamps. (6)

Nutritional Facts

Olive oil is packed with healthy and unhealthy lipids. Increasing the consumption of healthy fats is better than consuming a low-fat diet. These fats benefit our heart health as they maintain blood pressure and cholesterol. The olive oil (extra virgin) analysis and quantity of nutritional components, lipids, and phytosterols show (7,8)

It contains reasonable amounts of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are known as healthy fats. They help in reducing the risk of diseases and maintain the cholesterol level. 

Saturated fats are better than trans fats but are harmful compared to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. (9) Excessive consumption of saturated fats is believed to increase the risk of heart disease.

LipidsAmount (per 100 grams)Daily Adult Requirements
Total fat93.7 g
Saturated fatty acids15.4 g
Monounsaturated fatty acids 69.2 g
Polyunsaturated fatty acids9.07 g

g-gram, mg-milligram, mcg-microgram

Olive oil is high in calories (900 kcal/100 g). It also contains small quantities of minerals like calcium (1 mg/100 g), iron (0.56 mg/100 g), potassium (1 mg/100 g), and sodium (2 mg/100 g).

Vitamins like vitamin E (20.9 mg/100 g) and vitamin K (26 mcg/100 g) are also present in it.

Phytosterols (plant sterols and stanols) are naturally occurring compounds resembling cholesterol’s structural and biological functions. It refers to more than 200 different types of compounds in various plants and marine sources. (10) 

Olive oil contains plant sterols like stigmasterol (1.02 mg/100 g), campesterol (5.68 mg/100g), beta-sitosterol (126 mg/100 g), beta-sitostanol (2.55 mg/100 g), and delta-5-avenasterol (23.1 mg/100 g). These phytosterols are suggested to consume 150 to 400 milligrams daily. (11) 

Health Benefits

Olive oil contains several nutritional components and phenolic compounds. These components show antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These compounds benefit our heart, blood, brain, and skin health. This fruit also helps to ease constipation and regulate bowel movement. Consumption of olive and its oil reduces oxidative damage to cells and reduces the risk of colon, skin, and breast cancer. It also helps maintain cholesterol levels in the blood.

  1. Can moisturize the skin: Vitamin E present in olive oil possess antioxidant properties. It protects the skin from sunburn and maintains its brightness. It moisturizes the skin and scalp, which helps to prevent aging and hair loss, respectively. (12)
  1. Can help to prevent cancer: Olive oil works as an anti-inflammatory agent. It contains phenolic compounds like oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol, and tyrosol. These phenolic compounds possess antioxidant properties and protect cells from free radical damage. (13) The presence of vitamin E helps to prevent skin cancer. (12) Its consumption also reduces inflammation in the digestive tract and reduces the risk of colon cancer. (6)
  1. Can protect heart health: Consumption of olive and olive oil is considered suitable for heart health. It can balance the cholesterol level and maintain blood flow in our bodies. It also helps to prevent cardiovascular diseases like stroke and heart attack. (6) It also prevents blood clotting and improves the lining of the blood vessels. (14)
  1. Can prevent Alzheimer’s disease: Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative condition (cells of the central nervous system stop working). This condition leads to loss of memory. Oleocanthal, a phenolic compound in olive oil, is believed to prevent or reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. (14)
  1. Can control blood sugar: Consumption of olive oil can improve metabolic syndromes like inflammation and blood sugar. Higher intake of the oil shows positive effects on type 2 diabetes. (15)

Olive is a healthy fruit with numerous health benefits. However, it can cause allergies in some people when applied to the skin. It can also cause nausea and dental issue when consumed through the mouth. (16) 

  1. Omar, Syed Haris. (2008). Olive: Native of Mediterranean region and Health benefits. Pharmacognosy Reviews. 2. 135-142. 
  2. HEALTH BENEFITS OF OLIVE OIL AND OLIVE EXTRACTS [Internet]. FSHN16-4/FS282: Health benefits of olive oil and olive extracts. [cited 2023Jan30]. Available from: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/FS282 
  3. Blekas, G. & Tsimidou, Maria & Boskou, Dimitrios. (2006). Olive Oil Composition. 10.1201/9781439832028.pt2. 
  4. Foscolou A, Critselis E, Panagiotakos D. Olive oil consumption and human health: A narrative review. Maturitas. 2018;118:60–6.  
  5. Olive trees olives, olive oil (olea europaea ) – an-najah national … [Internet]. [cited 2023Jan30]. Available from: https://agri.najah.edu/media/filer_public/23/4c/234c4e60-e503-45ab-9632-0b6740cc2c5e/olive_trees.pdf 
  6. Olive oil: Health benefits, nutritional information [Internet]. Medical News Today. MediLexicon International; [cited 2023Jan30]. Available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266258#_noHeaderPrefixedContent 
  7. Fooddata Central Search Results [Internet]. FoodData Central. [cited 2023Jan30]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/748608/nutrients 
  8. Fooddata Central Search Results [Internet]. FoodData Central. [cited 2023Jan30]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/2345743/nutrients 
  9. Fats and cholesterol [Internet]. The Nutrition Source. 2019 [cited 2023Jan30]. Available from: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-and-cholesterol/ 
  10. Fiorella Alonso, Alexander Chuqui, Gilbert Rodríguez, Elza Aguirre, Eudes Villanueva, Alyssa Hidalgo, et al. Oilseeds and fats, crops and lipids [Internet]. OCL. [cited 2023Jan30]. Available from: https://www.ocl-journal.org/ 
  11. Rajasekaran A. Nutraceuticals. Comprehensive Medicinal Chemistry III. 2017;:107–34.  
  12. Olive oil: 5 incredible ways it benefits your skin and hair [Internet]. Netmeds. [cited 2023Jan30]. Available from: https://www.netmeds.com/health-library/post/olive-oil-5-incredible-ways-it-benefits-your-skin-and-hair 
  13. Singh DR. Olive oil: Uses, benefits, side effects and more! [Internet]. PharmEasy Blog. 2022 [cited 2023Jan30]. Available from: https://pharmeasy.in/blog/ayurveda-uses-benefits-side-effects-of-olive-oil/ 
  14. Leech J. 11 proven benefits of olive oil [Internet]. Healthline. Healthline Media; 2018 [cited 2023Jan30]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-benefits-of-olive-oil#TOC_TITLE_HDR_6 
  15. Schwingshackl, Lukas & Lampousi, Anna-Maria & Portillo, M & Romaguera, D & Hoffmann, Georg & Boeing, H. (2017). Olive oil in the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes mellitus: A systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies and intervention trials. Nutrition & Diabetes. 7. e262. 10.1038/nutd.2017.12. 
  16. Olive oil: Overview, uses, side effects, precautions, interactions, dosing and reviews [Internet]. WebMD. WebMD; [cited 2023Jan30]. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1689/olive-oil 

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