Olive oil nutritional fact

Olive oil is most likely part of a Mediterranean diet. And in reasonable amounts, olive oil seems healthy. But what makes olive oil healthy? In the following article, I will show you the olive oil nutritional fact! 😉

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Olive oil nutritional fact – Why might it be healthy?

Olive oil nutritional fact – Ingredients

Excursion: Antioxidants and oxidative damage


Olive oil nutritional fact – Why might it be healthy?

Olive oil is not just olive oil. 😉 There are differences in the processing of olives into oil (Caporaso et al., 2015).

Various grades are listed below (Caporaso et al., 2015):

  • Extra Virgin
  • “Virgin”
  • “Olive oil”

The highest quality class is called “Extra Vergine”. Producing oil in this category is only obtained by mechanical processes, i.e., without additives. If the oil is declared as “Olive oil – extra virgin”, then it must also comply with the strict European and the respective national laws and regulations (Caporaso et al., 2015)

Olive oil has been linked to a whole range of health benefits. 🙂 It could have a positive effect on risk factors of clinical pictures, such as:

  • Cardiovascular diseases (Officioso et al., 2016; Caporaso et al., 2015; Scoditti et al., 2014; Cioffi et al., 2010; Lopez-Miranda et al., 2010)
  • Neurological disorders (Officioso et al., 2016; Caporaso et al., 2015; Scoditti et al., 2014; Cioffi et al., 2010; Lopez-Miranda et al., 2010)
  • Cancer (Caporaso et al., 2015; Scoditti et al., 2014; Cioffi et al., 2010; Lopez-Miranda et al., 2010)

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Olive oil nutritional fact – Ingredients

The health benefits of olive oil are attributed to the fatty acids, polyphenols (Officioso et al., 2016; Piroddi et al., 2016; Caporaso et al., 2015; Lopez-Miranda et al., 2010) and the vitamin E content ( Officioso et al., 2016; Piroddi et al., 2016; Caporaso et al., 2015). Then, a brief explanation of the favorable properties of fatty acids, polyphenols, and vitamin E.

Fatty acids

Initially, olive oil’s health benefits were attributed mainly to its high monounsaturated fat content. Among the monounsaturated fatty acids, oleic acid is the most important. Oleic acid is contained in olive oil up to 83% and positively influences risk factors for cardiovascular diseases (Piroddi et al., 2016). Some effects of oleic acid are (Piroddi et al., 2016):

  • Improvement of blood pressure values
  • Inhibition of inflammation
  • Improving glucose homeostasis

However, the health benefits of olive oil are no longer attributed exclusively to monounsaturated fats. Olive oil also contains polyunsaturated fats such as alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3 fatty acid) and linoleic acid (omega-6 fatty acid) (Montserrat-de la Paz et al., 2016; Piroddi et al., 2016; Huth et al ., 2015). These two polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential for the human body. Essential means that the body cannot produce the fatty acids independently but must be supplied with food (Piroddi et al., 2016; Scoditti et al., 2014).

Alpha-linolenic acid and linoleic acid are, among other things, indispensable for the structure of cells and fundamental for brain development (Piroddi et al., 2016).


Polyphenols are, among others, secondary plant substances. Although polyphenols are not vital for humans, they can have positive effects. 🙂 They have many properties beneficial for the human body (Daglia et al., 2012). Polyphenols could have the following effects, among others:

  • Antioxidant (Officioso et al., 2016; Scoditti et al., 2014; Daglia at al., 2012; Lopez-Miranda et al., 2010)
  • Antiallergic (Daglia et al., 2012)
  • Anti-inflammatory (Scoditti et al., 2014; Daglia et al., 2012; Lopez-Miranda et al., 2010)
  • Antimicrobial (Against microorganisms such as bacteria) (Scoditti et al., 2014; Daglia at al., 2012)
  • Anticancer (Anticancer) (Daglia et al., 2012) Antihypertensive (Daglia et al., 2012)

The amount of polyphenols contained in olive oil depends on various factors, such as the growing area and the degree of ripeness of the olives, and can vary between 40 – 1000 mg per kg of olive oil (Scoditti et al., 2014).

Possibly the most essential polyphenols in olive oil are hydroxytyrosol and oleuropein. These two polyphenols are potent antioxidants (Officioso et al., 2016; Scoditti et al., 2014).

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin and an antioxidant. Vitamin E refers to a group of 8 compounds with a similar chemical structure. The most common and most active form of vitamin E is alpha-tocopherol. As an antioxidant, vitamin E can help protect the body from oxidative damage and reduce inflammation. Other benefits of vitamin E are still being discussed (Debbabi et al., 2016; Mocchegiani et al., 2014).

Excursion: Antioxidants and oxidative damage

Finally, a very brief explanation of what antioxidants and oxidative damage are. 😉


Antioxidants delay, prevent, or reverse oxidative damage (Carocho & Ferreira, 2013).

Oxidative damage

Free radicals constantly form in the human body as part of normal metabolism. Free radicals are atoms or molecules with unpaired electrons that are unstable but highly reactive (Carocho & Ferreira, 2013). For example, If free radicals react with cell structures, this can lead to problems. For example, neurodegenerative damage may be related to oxidative stress (Debbabi et al., 2016).

The formation of free radicals is also promoted by external factors such as smoking, drugs, and pesticides. The body itself can fight off free radicals. The antioxidants in the diet can help with this. However, if the production of free radicals outweighs the neutralization, the body suffers from oxidative stress and damage (Carocho & Ferreira, 2013). For example, neurodegenerative damage may be related to oxidative stress (Debbabi et al., 2016).

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Caporaso, N., Savarese, M., Paduano, A., Guidone, G., de Marco, E. & Sacchi, R. (2015). Nutritional quality assessment of extra virgin olive oil from the italian retail market: Do natural antioxidants satisfy EFSA health claims? Journal of food composition and analysis. Volume 40. pp. 154 – 162.

Carocho, M. & Ferreira, I. C. F. R. (2013). A review on antioxidants, prooxidants and related controversy: Natural and synthetic compounds, screening and analysis methodologies and future perspectives. Food and chemical toxicology. Volume 51. pp. 15 – 25.

Cioffi, G., Pesca, M. S., de Caprariis, P., Braca, A., Severino, L. & de Tommasi, N. (2010). Phenolic compounds in olive oil and olive pomace from Cilento (Campania, Italy) and their antioxidant activity. Food chemistry. Volume 121. Issue 1. pp. 105 – 111.

Daglia, M. (2012). Polyphenols as antimicrobial agents. Current opinion in Biotechnology. Volume 23. Issue 2. pp. 174 – 181.

Debbabi, M., Nury, T., Zarrouk, A., Mekahli, N., Bezine, M., Sghaier, R., Gregoire, S. et al. (2016). Protective effects of alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol and oleic acid, three compounds of olive oils, and no effect of trolox, on 7-ketocholesterol-induced mitochondrial and peroxisomal dysfunction in microglial BV-2 cells. International journal of molecular sciences. Volume 17. Issue 12.

Huth, P. J., Fulgoni, V. L. & Larson, B. T. (2015). A systematic review of high-oleic vegetable oil substitutions for other fats and oils on cardiovascular disease risk factors: Implications for novel high-oleic soybean oils. Advances in nutrition. Volume 6. Issue 6. pp. 674 – 693.

Lopez-Miranda, J., Perez-Jimenez, F., Ros, E., de Caterina, R., Badimon, L., Covas, M. I., Escrich, E. et al. (2010). Olive oil and health: Summary of the II international conference on olive oil and health consensus report, Jaen and Cordoba (Spain) 2008. Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases. Volume 20. Issue 4. pp. 284 – 294.

Mocchegiani, E., Costarelli, L., Giacconi, R., Malavolta, M., Basso, A., Piacenza, F., Ostan, R. et al. (2014). Vitamin E-gene interactions in aging and inflammatory age-related diseases: Implications for treatment. A systematic review. Ageing research reviews. Volume 14. pp. 81 – 101.

Montserrat-de la Paz, S., Naranjo, M. C., Lopez, S., Abia, R., Muriana, F. J. G. & Bermudez, B. (2016). Olive oil, compared to a saturated dietary fat, has a protective role on atherosclerosis in niacin-treated mice with metabolic syndrome. Journal of functional foods. Volume 26. pp. 557 – 564.

Officioso, A., Tortora, F. & Manna, C. (2016). Nutritional aspects of  food toxicology: Mercury toxicity and protective effects of olive oil hydroxytyrosol. Journal of nutrition & food sciences. Volume 6. Issue 4.

Piroddi, M., Albini, A., Fabiani, R., Giovannelli, L., Luceri, C., Natella, F., Rosignoli, P. et al. (2016). Nutrigenomics of extra-virgin olive oil: A review. BioFactors. doi:10.1002/biof.1318.

Scoditti, E., Capurso, C., Capurso, A. & Massaro, M. (2014). Vascular effects of mediterranean diet – Part II: Role of omega-3 fatty acids and olive oil polyphenols. Vascular Pharmacology. Volume 63. Issue 3. pp. 127 – 134.



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