Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil and You Might Just “Forget to Die”

Find out about the incredible health benefits of this grocery store staple, and how to make sure you get the most out of it.

By Perri O. Blumberg
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    Olive oil might be the key to longer life.

    Greeks consume more olive oil than any other country (about 26 liters per person annually), and their Mediterranean diet has been linked to lower cancer rates, risks of heart disease, and occurrence of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.

    Recently, the New York Times Magazine wrote that heart-healthy olive oil was a potential reason that inhabitants of the Greek Island Ikaria just "forget to die." TV chef Cat Cora told us, "My family in Greece drinks half a cup of extra virgin olive oil [EVOO] and warm lemon water in the morning for weight loss and health. They absolutely swear by it for keeping hunger pangs in check, helping with body maintenance, health and longevity."

    Just smelling it might be good for your waistline.

    A 2013 study conducted by the German Research Center for Food Chemistry indicates that even just smelling EVOO may lead to greater feelings of fullness: when the scent was added to foods via an aromatic extract, it lowered the number of calories consumed by study participants, and improved blood sugar response. Additionally, compared to other oils and fats, when EVOO was added to yogurt, the group that had eaten the yogurt enriched with olive oil showed the largest increases in blood levels of serotonin, a hormone associated with satiety.

    Try it for pain relief.

    The Monell Chemical Senses Center found that Ibuprofen and EVOO have the same kind of anti-inflammatory properties, even though the substances are otherwise completely unrelated. Their polyphenols (a type of antioxidant) act on the same receptor in the back of your throat, which is what can cause a ticklish sensation for some when they swallow it. 

    The Koroneiki varietal of EVOO in particular has the highest quotient of polyphenols, which also makes it great for external relief and beauty treatments on skin, hair, and scalp. 


    EVOO might cut down on accidental carcinogens.

    The smoke point of EVOO is almost 400 degrees, which is much higher than other popular cooking oils like canola (200 degrees), or corn and non-virgin olive oils (around 320 degrees each). According to the Cleveland Clinic, "[H]eating oil above its smoke point—the temperature at which the oil begins to smoke—produces toxic fumes and harmful free radicals (the stuff we’re trying to prevent in the first place). A good rule of thumb: The more refined the oil, the higher its smoke point."

    Olive oil is full of healthy fats.

    If a recipe calls for canola oil or butter, you can simply swap in olive oil. According to our food editor, use about 3/4 the amount listed (even if you're baking cakes, muffins, and breads), and you'll cut back on calories, saturated fats, and bad cholesterol.

    "Light" doesn't necessarily mean healthier.

    Every olive oil has the same cholesterol and fat content, and they all have around 120 calories per tablespoon. A bottle classified as "light" is referring to the oil's color and flavor.

    Labels can lie.

    "Bottled in Italy" doesn't make it better; plus, the fine print might be: “May contain oils from Spain, Greece, Morocco, Tunisia.” That means most of the oil was likely produced elsewhere, before being shipped overseas to obtain that luxurious, coveted, they-can-charge-more Italian labeling. 

    The University of California, Davis conducted a study in 2012 that showed over 65% of the EVOO found on grocery store shelves did not test as “Extra Virgin”, even though they were labeled that way, and instead contained other oils as fillers, and for additional color and flavoring.

    Olive oil can expire.

    Bright supermarkets can speed up the oxidation process if the oil sits there for too long, and it can go rancid. As long as it’s stored away from heat and light, however, an unopened bottle of good quality olive oil should last for up to two years from its bottling date. Once you open it, you should use it all in a few months. 

    Use it to clear acne.

    It might sound a bit wonky, but many folks swear this works: Make a paste by mixing 4 tablespoons salt with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Pour the mixture onto your hands and fingers and work it around your face. Leave it on for a minute or two, then rinse it off with warm, soapy water. Apply daily for one week, then cut back to two or three times weekly. You should see a noticeable improvement in your condition. (The principle is that the salt cleanses the pores by exfoliation, while the olive oil restores the skin’s natural moisture.)

    Who knew: It takes 1,375 olives just to make one 32-ounce bottle of olive oil.

    That's over 15 pounds!


    Sources: Marco Petrini, President of Monini North America, Inc., Olive Oil from Spain, Cat Cora chef and TV personality, founder of Cat Cora's Kitchen by Gaea, Kaldi Olive Oil, Euphoria Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Fran Gage author and olive oil expert, Theo Stephan founder of Global Gardens and author of Olive Oil and Vinegar for Life, Monell Chemical Senses Center, Olive Oil Times, Rip  Esselstyn, author of The Engine 2 Diet. Inspired by "The Island Where People Forget to Die" in the New York Times Magazine.

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    Your Comments

    • mandy wilson

      I can say that I have tested EVOO and have lost 20 pounds eating a tablespoon with each meal. The Mediterranean lifestyle proves how healthy EVOO is. ALSO is great for dogs with dry skin.. a little in my dog’s food everyday has worked wonders

    • Sol

      It is great I live in a place where Olive oil is produced in cold pressed way and… not expensive. And yes, some people drink a little everyday, or pour generously over all salads. They even eat it with bread and crushed fresh tomatoes in the morning for breakfast. You should try it…

      • smartchic11943

        You just made my mouth water! I bake homemade bread, and enjoy dipping it in olive oil, along with some fresh crushed basil from my garden. I also never buy bottled salad dressing; instead I lightly coat freshly washed and dried greens (escarole, baby spinach & red leaf lettuce are my favs) with a good olive oil, sprinkle on fresh grated fleur de sel (a salt that is very soft and mellow tasting) and then sprinkle on a bit of some type of acid; red wine vinegar, or even just a squeeze of a fresh lemon….Delicious!

    • Sol

      Is the best olive oil Italian ????. I have thought all my life Spain is the main producer and the best quality olive oil is Spanish. But I don´t live in the US and perhaps you have other opinions or taste.

    • MarkCM

      This is incorrect and contradicts itself. It says in the beginning that EVOO has a higher smoke point than non-virgin olive oils (which are more refined than EVOO), then later says that the more refined an oil, the higher the smoke point. In fact, EVOO has the lowest smoke point of all olive oils at 375 F. Regular virgin is 391, and extra-light olive oil is 468. Refined corn oil is in fact higher smoke point than EVOO at 450, and refined canola oil is as well at 400.

      • smartchic11943

        I try not to heat olive oil; even when roasting vegetables (Lucero Meyer Lemon Olive Oil is wonderful for this) I take it low and slow. For deep frying, peanut oil is, imo, the best.

    • Ethel

      What about fresh pressed olive oil. I understand that is the only one we should buy!

    • Garwhit

      my email is blank no info on subject listed

      garry

    • http://twitter.com/rapidfreehits suzanne a. spinelli

      show me the science, not some website that wants to sell olive oil. just because it is on the internet does not mean it is valid. find some scientic papers and post from those (with the appropriate citations of course). THEN and only then will I believe this bunk.

      • J.Millard

        Besides what Uconn already laid into you above to your EXTREME over-simplification of “fat is fat”, I actually did happen to read a scientific study just the other day that proved one particular oil supplement actually causes abdominal fat loss while others didn’t. Also, cattle farmers, since it was cheap tried to use it but it made the herd skinny. All fats are NOT equal. Show you? No one needs to hold your hand. Look stuff up yourself – I did. And olive oil (not even the oil I was referring to) is DEFINITELY beneficial for the body.

      • smartchic11943

        Why should anyone show you anything? Look it up yourself; conduct your due diligence before making sweeping generalizations. The Mediterranean Paradox has been written about extensively in the past 10 years. It used to be called “the French paradox” but has been expanded to include other European countries with higher than average mortality rates. Europeans smoke more, consume wine daily, yet do not succumb to typical Western diseases (cardiovascular disease, hypertension, etc) at the same rate as people living in the U.S. and eating what would be considered an ‘SAD” (Standard American Diet.)

        The regular consumptions of polyunsaturated fats (especially those with a high concentration of polyphenols, and its easy to find out which ones do; sip some EVOO and if it burns about 3 seconds AFTER you swallow, there’s your test.) is only one factor that explains the Paradox. Europeans walk more and drive less, they don’t work as many hours, and they take longer and more frequent vacations.

        A strong social network has also been linked to better health. But I digress. Fat is NOT fat; and I don’t think it is mature or appropriate to call people names, like “idiots.” Name calling makes you look very foolish and uneducated.

        This could be a teachable moment for, but something tells me it won’t. Oh well. FYI, my grandmother’s parents has a nightly ritual in which everyone in the family ‘took’ a spoonful of castor oil for their health and to maintain regular bowels. Castor oil has a fascinating history; it was used extensively by the ancient Egyptians (to induce labor, among other things) and in very high doses, is toxic (but then again, too much of many common things can be fatal, such as water.)

        I hope you take the time to do some reading, and perhaps, some growing up. Peace.

        • mike

          You won’t convince a kid how ignorant they are only they can do that. LOL

    • http://twitter.com/rapidfreehits suzanne a. spinelli

      drinking olive oil?  that is just stupid. it is fat. anyone that understands chemistry knows that it is fat. geez people are such idiots. fat is fat. 

      • UConn Molecular & Cell Biology

        Not all fat is bad. Anyone that understands organic chemistry/biochemistry

        would know that.

        The two main types of potentially harmful dietary fat:

        Saturated fat. This is a type of fat that comes mainly from animal sources of food. Saturated fat raises total blood cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, which can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Saturated fat may also increase your risk of type 2 diabetes.

        Trans fat. This is a type of fat that occurs naturally in some foods, especially foods from animals. But most trans fats are made during food processing through partial hydrogenation of unsaturated fats. This process creates fats that are easier to cook with and less likely to spoil than are naturally occurring oils. These trans fats are called industrial or synthetic trans fats. Research studies show that synthetic trans fat can increase unhealthy LDL cholesterol and lower healthy high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. This can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.

        Most fats that have a high percentage of saturated fat or trans fat are solid at room temperature. Because of this, they’re typically referred to as solid fats. They include beef fat, pork fat, shortening, stick margarine and butter.

        The two main types of potentially helpful dietary fat:

        Monounsaturated fat. This is a type of fat found in a variety of foods and oils. Studies show that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. Research also shows that MUFAs may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful if you have type 2 diabetes.

        Polyunsaturated fat. This is a type of fat found mostly in plant-based foods and oils. Evidence shows that eating foods rich in polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. PUFAs may also help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes. One type of polyunsaturated fat, omega-3 fatty acids, may be especially beneficial to your heart. Omega-3s, found in some types of fatty fish, appear to decrease the risk of coronary artery disease. They may also protect against irregular heartbeats and help lower blood pressure levels.

        Due to being rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids Olive oil lowers LDL cholesterol and maintains healthy levels of HDL which is important for membrane fluidity. Not to mention it contains vitamin E and polyphenols, very powerful antioxidants which fight cell oxidation and aging through bonding the free radicals.

        Drinking 2 tablespoons of olive oil every morning satisfies your daily needs of good fats in your diet so yu can focus on a carb and protein diet. It can lead to not only getting in shape, better heart and overall cardiovascular health, but it also promotes healthy skin thus combating common skin comedos a.k.a acne.

        You clearly don’t know what you are talking about so do us all a favor and stop trying to sounds smart while providing incorrect information.

      • Anon

        Ahh.. youre stupid. Where does olive oil come from? Olives you idiot. A fruit. Anyone who understands anything in life would know that it is harmless. Gosh, youre an idiot.

    • http://www.facebook.com/syedrafay.zahoori Syed Rafay Zahoori

      THANK YOU VERY MUCH AND WISH ALL OF YOU HAVE A WONDERFUL LIFE WITH MY BEST REGARDS + USE OLIVE OIL AS MUCH YOU CAN FOR SO MANY HEALTH BENIFITS……………YOURS,
      SYED RAFAY ZAHOORI.

    • http://www.facebook.com/syedrafay.zahoori Syed Rafay Zahoori

      great product olive oil…………relly good for health………………………….syed rafay zahoori