Olive oil is the richest vegetable oil in polyphenols, containing 62 mg polyphenols per 100g. It has almost 4 times more polyphenols than the second-richest vegetable oil!
Health benefits of olive oil
Olive oil contains compounds that may prevent, manage, or treat chronic diseases (1).
First, olive oil is considered a good dietary source of fat. It is 80% monounsaturated fatty acids. Monounsaturated fatty acids are good for the heart when consumed in moderation (5).
However, other foods high in monounsaturated fats don’t have the same effect to health as olive oil. According to a study, only olive oil is associated with a reduced risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular events, and stroke. Other foods high in monounsaturated fatty acids didn’t have any significant risk reduction to these diseases (4).
In fact, the high polyphenol content of olive oil may have beneficial effects on health.
Is olive oil rich in polyphenols?
According to the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, olive oil contains decent amounts of polyphenols. It contains 62 mg polyphenols per 100g.
It’s by far the richest vegetable oil in polyphenols. The second vegetable oil high in polyphenols is the rapeseed oil, with only 17 mg per 100g.
Polyphenols in olive oil are mainly responsible for its biter taste.
What types of polyphenols are in olive oil?
Actually, the main polyphenols in olive oil are flavonols, lignans, and glycosides. Polyphenols naturally present in the extra virgin olive oil may reduce the risk of (1):
- neurodegenerative diseases
- type 2 diabetes mellitus
Should we consume olive oil?
Certainly, olive oil is the healthiest vegetable oil. Not only is it the richest vegetable oil in polyphenols, but it also has a decent antioxidant content. Extra virgin olive oil has 55 mg of antioxidants per 100g. In addition, olive oil contains 21 mg of vitamin E per 100g.
However, we should consume reasonable amounts of olive oil. As all vegetable oils, it’s particularly high in calories. Just a tbsp has 126 calories! So, too much olive oil can make you gain weight. Better limit the daily consumption to 1-2 tbsp a day.
You could eat olives, though. They are high in polyphenols and antioxidants, too. For instance, green olives have 161 mg of antioxidants, while black olives have 117 mg of antioxidants, per 100g.
We have to consume fat, though. Fat is necessary for many functions in the body. For instance, fat is involved in the synthesis of many hormones, energy metabolism, as well as the absorption of certain vitamins and carotenoids, such as beta-carotene!
- Nutraceutical Properties of Olive Oil Polyphenols. An Itinerary from Cultured Cells through Animal Models to Humans
- A new definition of functional food by FFC: what makes a new definition unique?
- Mediterranean diet pyramid today. Science and cultural updates.
- Monounsaturated fatty acids, olive oil, and health status: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies
- Influence of harvest date and crop yield on the fatty acid composition of virgin olive oils from cv. Picual (pdf)
- USDA-US Department of Agriculture: Olive oil
- NCBI: The importance of the omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio in cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases.