Olive Oil has been revered as an amazing elixir of life for thousands of years. In the ancient world, extra virgin olive oil was called “liquid gold” by Homer. Our father of medicine, Hippocrates, promoted “Food as Medicine” and referred to olive oil as “the great healer.” But in our modern day this profound wisdom is all but lost.
In addition to cooking and consumption, ancient cultures used olive oil in their beauty rituals, perfumes, anointments for the dead, fuel, soap, and healing remedies. The Egyptians used it as an elixir of longevity and their famous cat-eyes make-up applications. In Greek Mythology, the olive tree is described as a shining symbol of wealth and prosperity for some of the greatest civilizations in our history as a human species.
So, what makes olive oil so special and such a prize passed down through the millennia? Olive trees Olea europaea are thought to have originated in Asia, Africa, and parts of the Mediterranean. They are a very resilient and versatile evergreen tree or shrub that can live up to 2,000 years and adapt well to various biotic and abiotic stresses. It is believed that olive trees were brought to Italy from Greece around 1000 B.C. Olive oil is technically a fruit juice, crushed for its juice like oranges and lemons. Like many other superfruits, olives are high in minerals, phytonutrients, and vitamins, three micronutrients that have been studied extensively for their incredible health benefits.
Health Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO):
High in Healthy Fats that may Reduce Inflammation
- ~14% of olive oil is saturated fat, 11% is polyunsaturated, such as omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
- The prized ingredient and predominant fatty acid in olive oil is a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid, making up 73% of the total oil.
- Studies suggest that oleic acid reduces inflammation and may even have beneficial effects on genes linked to cancer, heart disease and obesity (1-7).
High in Polyphenols which have antioxidant and restorative benefits
- Polyphenols are organic compounds with potent antioxidant properties
- Oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol, and their derivatives are polyphenolic compounds that are abundant in olive oil.
- Studies have shown that these are powerful antioxidants that may provide anticancer, anti-angiogenic, and anti-inflammatory properties (8).
- Growing conditions like dry regions, altitude, and soil nutrient levels can affect the density of polyphenols in the olive fruit and its oil
EVOO may support Improved Heart Health
- According to the authors of one 2018 review, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority recommend consuming around 20 grams (g) or two tablespoons (tbs) of extra virgin olive oil each day to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and inflammation.
- Studies suggest that the polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil may offer protection from cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, stroke, brain dysfunction, and cancer. Polyphenols are a type of antioxidant (9,10).
EVOO may improve Metabolic Syndrome
- Authors of a 2019 meta-analysis concluded that olive oil in a Mediterranean diet might improve features of metabolic syndrome, such as inflammation, blood sugar, triglycerides (fats in the blood), and low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol. In contrast, it appears to increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol.
Check out N4L's Extra Virgin Olive Oil, straight from our partner farm in Calabria, Italy. We have been to the lush orchards of 200+ year old olive trees. We know they are produced with no synthetic chemicals and true first press production. A real EVOO, that is so good you can taste the difference - the good stuff and nothing else!
- Arpita Basu 1, Sridevi Devaraj, Ishwarlal Jialal. Dietary factors that promote or retard inflammation, Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2006 May;26(5):995-1001
- Devaraj S, Kasim-Karakas S, Jialal I. The effect of weight loss and dietary fatty acids on inflammation. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2006 Nov;8(6):477-86.
- Liu HQ, Qiu Y, Mu Y, Zhang XJ, Liu L, Hou XH, Zhang L, Xu XN, Ji AL, Cao R, Yang RH, Wang F. A high ratio of dietary n-3/n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids improves obesity-linked inflammation and insulin resistance through suppressing activation of TLR4 in SD rats. Nutr Res. 2013 Oct;33(10):849-58.
- Brown WV. Ann N Y. Dietary recommendations to prevent coronary heart disease Acad Sci. 1990;598:376-88.
- Satoko Yoneyama 1, Katsuyuki Miura, Satoshi Sasaki, Katsushi Yoshita, Yuko Morikawa, Masao Ishizaki, Teruhiko Kido, Yuchi Naruse, Hideaki Nakagawa. Dietary intake of fatty acids and serum C-reactive protein in Japanese J Epidemiol . 2007 May;17(3):86-92.
- Javier A Menendez 1, Ruth Lupu. Mediterranean dietary traditions for the molecular treatment of human cancer: anti-oncogenic actions of the main olive oil's monounsaturated fatty acid oleic acid (18:1n-9), Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2006 Dec;7(6):495-502.
- J A Menendez 1, L Vellon, R Colomer, R Lupu. Oleic acid, the main monounsaturated fatty acid of olive oil, suppresses Her-2/neu (erbB-2) expression and synergistically enhances the growth inhibitory effects of trastuzumab (Herceptin) in breast cancer cells with Her-2/neu oncogene amplification, Ann Oncol. 2005 Mar;16(3):359-71.
- Monika Gorzynik-Debicka 1, Paulina Przychodzen,1, Francesco Cappello,2,3 Alicja Kuban-Jankowska,1 Antonella Marino Gammazza,2,3 Narcyz Knap,1 Michal Wozniak,1 and Magdalena Gorska-Ponikowska1,4. Potential Health Benefits of Olive Oil and Plant Polyphenols, Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Mar; 19(3): 686.
- Estruch, R., et al. (2018). Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts.
- Tsartsou, E., et al. (2019). Network meta-analysis of metabolic effects of olive oil in humans shows the importance of olive oil consumption with moderate phenolic levels as part of the Mediterranean diet.