Extra Virgin Olive Oil
“Published studies show that no other food comes close to Extra Virgin Olive Oil for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease.” Associate Professor Mary Flynn, Brown University.
Summary of the current evidence:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil has many well evidenced health benefits as an individual food, and as part of the Mediterranean diet.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the main source of fat, and the ubiquitous cooking medium, in the Mediterranean Diet. The Mediterranean Diet is now well established through multiple systematic reviews and meta-analysis to reduce overall risk of mortality, cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction, overall cancer incidence, neurodegenerative diseases and diabetes.1
The well-known Predimed study, a high quality randomized controlled study, elucidated in more detail the effect of Extra Virgin Olive Oil specifically as part of the Mediterranean Diet. It compared a Mediterranean Diet supplemented with greater than or equal to 4 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil with a low-fat diet. This resulted in a thirty percent reduction in cardiovascular disease and stroke and the trial was stopped after seven years for ethical reasons when the advantages of the Mediterranean diet became clear. 2
The diet is now recommended by governments, scientists, and health professionals as an example of a nutritional gold standard to support health and wellness, with the Predimed trial often cited.3, 4
Extra Virgin Olive Oil as an individual food is now recognized for its health properties beyond those attributed to its fat profile. For more than two decades, evidence has been mounting into the role of the powerful bioactive compounds in Extra Virgin Olive Oil.5 It is now well established that the biophenols found in Extra Virgin Olive play a key role in the health attributes pertaining to this oil, particularly their antimicrobial, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.6
Further references on the positive effect of the biophenols in EVOO, and EVOO as an individual food on risk factors for disease such as blood pressure, blood glucose, plasma lipoproteins, oxidative damage, inflammatory markers and platelet and cellular function are listed below.
The evidence on the beneficial effect on biophenols found in Extra Virgin Olive Oil is particularly strong for cardiovascular health with, as demonstrated by a permissible health claim in Europe. The European Food Safety Authority now includes a permissible health claim in recognition of the significance of the biophenol hydroxytyrosol and its derivates in Extra Virgin Olive Oil in the protection of LDL cholesterol from oxidative stress. This claim is: ‘Olive oil polyphenols contribute to the protection of blood lipids from oxidative stress’. The claim may be used for olive oil which contains at least 5mg of hydroxytyrosol and its derivatives (e.g. oleuropein complex and tyrosol) per 20g of olive oil. In order to bear the claim information shall be given to the consumer that the beneficial effect is obtained with a daily intake of 20g of olive oil.7
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the principal fat included in a Mediterranean Diet. The history of olive oil and the Mediterranean Diet dates back to 8000 BCE.
Olive oil is the broad term used to describe the natural juice of the olive fruit, which since ancient times, has been a major dietary oil and fat around the world. There are various grades of olive oil, each having distinct differences in terms of health benefits and suitability for cooking, or use in cosmetic or pharmaceutical products.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the highest quality oil obtained solely from the fruit of the olive tree (Olea europaea L.) by mechanical means.
- Dinu M, Pagliai G, Casini A, et al. Mediterranean diet and multiple health outcomes: an umbrella review of meta-analyses of observational studies and randomised trials. European journal of clinical nutrition 2017; 1: 14.
- Estruch R, Ros E, Salas-Salvadó J, et al. Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet Supplemented with Extra-Virgin Olive Oil or Nuts. New England Journal of Medicine 2018; 378: e34. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1800389.
- Agriculture USDoHaHSaUSDo. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th ed. December 2015.
- Practitioners TRACoG. General practice management of type 2 diabetes 2016 – 2018. 2016. East Melbourne, VIC.
- Cicerale S, Lucas L and Keast R. Antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phenolic activities in extra virgin olive oil. Current opinion in biotechnology 2012; 23: 129-135.
- Martín‐Peláez S, Covas MI, Fitó M, et al. Health effects of olive oil polyphenols: recent advances and possibilities for the use of health claims. Molecular nutrition & food research 2013; 57: 760-771.
- Authority EFS. Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of a health claim related to polyphenols in olive and maintenance of normal blood HDL cholesterol concentrations (ID 1639, further assessment) pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. 2012.
- Boskou D. Olive oil chemistry and technology, 2nd edition. 2006. AOCS Press: Illinois.
- Altomare R, Cacciabaudo F, Damiano G, et al. The Mediterranean diet: a history of health. Iran J Pub Health. 2013;42(5):449–57.
- Olive Oil Source. History of the Olive.
- Explore Crete. History of Olive Oil.