The Many Health Benefits Of Olive Oil – And Why Quality Matters

4 bottles of olive oil on wooden table with lemons and vegetable

You probably already know that olive oil is really good for you. It's been a staple of the much lauded Mediterranean diet for centuries, and a common food shared by the Blue Zone communities, renowned for their longevity.

In fact Hippocrates, the ‘father of medicine’, is known to have called olive oil “the great healer.”

These days, it's one of the few foods that is universally recommended by experts and doctors alike for its health benefits.

Health Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, particularly oleic acid, and is packed full of polyphenols, antioxidants and nutrients.

Before we dig in to the extraordinary health benefits of this incredible oil, it's important to remember we are talking about Extra Virgin Olive Oil over the regular stuff. EVOO is the highest quality as it is extracted without heat or chemicals, and therefore retains the highest levels of beneficial compounds that can promote good health.

Some of the health benefits we know of include;

  • Heart Health – just 2 tablespoons of EVOO has been shown to help lower cholesterol (reducing LDL oxidation and increasing HDL). It’s also been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of blood clots.
  • Blood sugar control – monounsaturated fats are known to help with insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control. In one study, people at risk of Diabetes took 2 tablespoons of EVOO a day for 18 months and reduced their fasting blood levels to normal.
  • Anti Inflammatory – several compounds present in EVOO are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. EVOO may help relieve pain associated with inflammation, such as arthritis.
  • Weight loss – Findings in this study revealed that participants following the Mediterranean diet with EVOO experienced greater reductions in waist circumference and improvements in metabolic syndrome parameters compared to those in the control group.
  • Anti oxidant – EVOO is rich in antioxidants, including vitamin E (tocopherol), compounds known for their ability to combat oxidative stress.
  • Brain Health – the polyphenol compounds in EVOO have been linked to improved brain function and a lower risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.

How to choose the best Olive Oil

I’ve always known olive oil is really healthy, but I didn’t know quite how much these benefits depended on the quality of the oil and where it came from. 

Until I met Sarah Vachon, olive oil sommelier and founder of Citizens of Soil. She explained the truth about olive oil, and how to buy and store it to maximise those health benefits.

Check out our fascinating chat below, or listen to the podcast episode (ep 142).

Sarah explains that just like fresh fruit juice, the magic of olive oil lies in its freshness and minimal processing. Here's why quality is key:

  • Freshness: it packs the most punch in terms of antioxidants and goodness right after it's harvested. Over time, these amazing qualities start to fade. Opting for oils from the latest harvest ensures you're getting all those health benefits.
  • Processing: How it is made makes a huge difference. The extra virgin oil (EVOO), made through gentle cold pressing without any chemicals or excessive heat, locks in the goodness. Small batches from single origin farms guarantee top-notch quality and freshness every time.
  • Storage: Storing it right is crucial. Keep it in a cool, dark spot to preserve its quality. And make sure the bottle is dark too. Exposing it to light and heat can lead to oxidation pretty quickly.

Incorporating olive oil into your daily routine is both easy and delicious. It's versatile enough to be used in various cooking methods as it remains stable at most temperatures. You can also drizzle it over your meals, use it in baking or simply dip your bread in it.  Personally, I love adding it to my smoothies for an extra boost of flavour and nutrients!

If you're looking for a quality olive oil that tastes great and supports small batch female growers, head to Citizens of Soil and get 10% off your first purchase with code happyhormonesforlife.

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