June 29, 2022
There’s no denying what we love most about Golden Olive Oil’s extra virgin olive oil—excellent taste! Who doesn’t love amazing flavor? Taste definitely tops the long list of accolades attached to extra virgin olive oil, and it just so happens EVOO is as nutritious as it is delicious—a win-win for sure! With all the attention given to the Mediterranean diet, one can hardly turn a deaf ear to the decades of research generated by EVOO, its star player. Long associated with a healthy heart, emerging research continues to produce more good attributes, giving us more reason than ever to partake in our favorite oil.
What are the nutrition facts of extra virgin olive oil?
Extra virgin olive oil is made up of a unique set of phytonutrients, which are organic, natural plant compounds that protect the olives as they grow from pests and predators. That same protection transfers to human health, supporting it and protecting against chronic disease. Most notable is the array of powerful polyphenols, which act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients in the body. At least nine different categories of polyphenols and more than 24 anti-inflammatory nutrients team up to give extra virgin olive oil unrivaled health benefits. Even better, it doesn’t require considerable doses to reap these benefits. It is so nutrient-dense that less than one tablespoon a day can have significant anti-inflammatory health effects.
Extra virgin olive oil is rich in heart-healthy fats, vitamins E, and K. One tablespoon (about 14 grams) of extra virgin olive oil contains these nutrients:
- Calories: 119
- Monounsaturated fat (MUFA): 9.8 grams (primarily oleic acid)
- Polyunsaturated fat (PUFA): 1.4 grams
- Saturated fat: 1.9 grams
- Vitamin E: 10% DV (DV=Daily Value, based on 2,000 calories/day)
- Vitamin K: 10% DV
What Makes Extra Virgin Olive Oil So Healthy?
Olive oil is made of 55 to 83 percent oleic acid, a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid; olive oil has one of the most unique fat compositions of any plant food. Plant-based oils are mainly polyunsaturated, which makes them less resistant to oxidation. Studies have shown that when olive oil is substituted for saturated fat, its monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) help lower total cholesterol levels as well as LDL, or “bad” cholesterol in the body. Olive oil consumption has long been associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, some cancers, and neurodegenerative disease. These benefits are highest in extra virgin olive oil because it is the least processed form of olive oil. This means it retains the highest concentration of those natural vitamins and plant compounds, called phenols, which have powerful antioxidant and health protecting effects. The processing and refining of other grades of olive oil. According to research reported at the International Conference on Virgin Olive Oil and Health Consensus Report, extra virgin olive oil is associated with the prevention of several types of cancers, including breast cancer and colorectal cancer. It is also linked with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and improved markers of the disease, such as blood pressure and cholesterol and lower risk of type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis.
Just as sure as you can taste the quality of extra virgin olive oil in its flavor, you can taste its health. Those valuable polyphenols which are chemically measured to meet standards for extra virgin classification correlate with tastes of bitterness and pungency on the sensory panel. Studies reveal that only extra virgin olive oil maintains the anti-inflammatory effects of those powerful polyphenols. Refining destroys polyphenols and flavor too.
Proper extra virgin olive oil storage in a cool, dark place will help maintain its nutritional profile. Though researchers are still working to determine the actual “life” of olive oil, the recommended use is within one year of the harvest date. At this point, most studies have shown significant drops in nutritional quality. However, some studies have shown that even in proper storage, nutritional quality begins to diminish after only a few months. Fresh, young oil purchased in small, usable quantities is ideal. Definitely enjoy your favorite extra virgin olive oils; be sure only to purchase what you will consume. Regular olive oil has a longer shelf life and a slightly lower nutritional profile. Still, it’s better to buy in larger quantities for more liberal uses like marinades, sautes, and baking.
No matter how high the quality and how perfectly stored, cooking with extra virgin olive oil can be a deal-breaker when it comes to health. In all oils, there is a fine line between safe cooking temps that stay below the smoke point and oxidation, which results in the loss of healthful nutrients. The smoke point of any oil is when smoke becomes visible while heating the oil. This is when the oil begins to break down, change composition, and produce fumes. High-quality extra virgins have high smoke points, in the range of about 300 to just above 400 F, and contrary to much conflicting information, can be safely used to sauté, brown, or fry foods without damaging nutrients. Interestingly, a study published in the British Medical Journal suggests that consuming fried foods in olive oil may not contribute to heart disease. While more research is needed for conclusive evidence, the findings support the protective role of olive oil in a healthy diet.
How Many Calories in Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
As with most good things, you can get too much olive oil. At about 120 calories per tablespoon, moderation is key, and not just for weight maintenance. Nutritionists and researchers agree that extra virgin olive oil should be encouraged as part of an overall healthy diet to enjoy optimal benefits. Healthy and tasty as it is, more is not necessarily better. Rather than simply adding more olive oil, try using it instead of other oils and fats, like butter, when cooking and in dressings, marinades, and as a condiment.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil Nutrition Facts Compared to Other Oils
A healthy diet that includes olive oil is one of the best ways to control harmful oxidative stress and chronic low-level inflammation that contribute to many health problems like chronic diseases. While many antioxidant-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables contribute to overall health, few can compare to the levels in olive oil. When good health is teamed with good flavor, there’s everything to love. Choose extra virgin olive oil in your favorite dishes for great taste, versatility, and good nutrition.