A close-up of olive oil

How Much Olive Oil (EVOO) a Day Keeps the Doctor Away?

Adding 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to your diet each day can lower blood pressure, blood sugar, and inflammation, according to researcher Mary Flynn at Brown University. Learn more.

In This Article

Your New Favorite Winter Superfood

Looking for a yummy way to improve your health? Olive oil researcher Mary Flynn at Brown University found that just adding 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) to your diet each day can change your health. Flynn says, “Published studies show that no other food comes close to extra virgin olive oil for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease.”

In a meta-analysis of seven studies from 1998 to 2015, Flynn reports that extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), with a total phenol content of at least 161 mg/kg at a minimum intake of 2 Tbs (25 ml) a day, could significantly decrease systolic blood pressure in as little as three weeks. EVOO containing at least 300 mg/kg total phenols may also decrease diastolic blood pressure.

The study concluded that high-polyphenol content EVOO lowered blood pressure significantly more than polyunsaturated fats, refined olive oil, or canola oil, where polyphenols have been removed during the refining process.

This study further reported that phenol-rich EVOO was more effective in lowering blood pressure than that reported from a DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet recommending consumption of about nine serving of fruits and vegetables daily.3

Benefits of 2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil Per Day2-5

  • Lower blood sugar
  • Lower inflammation
  • Lower Oxidation
  • Improved Blood Lipids (LDL, HDL)
  • Weight Loss

EVOO Helps Weight Loss

In another study published by Flynn, she followed 44 overweight women for six months and concluded that an olive oil-enriched diet brought about greater weight loss than a lower-fat diet. Moreover, these women overwhelmingly chose the olive oil-enriched diet for six months of follow-up.5

lifespa image, olive oil and olives pouring into glass bowl

Polyphenol Content Matters

Polyphenols are not exclusive to olives. They are also found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, roots, barks, leaves, herbs, whole grain products, some processed foods (dark chocolate), as well as tea, coffee, and red wine.

Polyphenols are abundant in nature, with over 8,000 polyphenols identified and a couple of hundred in edible plants. But polyphenols in olives are unique and researchers like Flynn believe strongly that olive polyphenols are the key to the health benefits of olive oil.

Arguably, bioactive plant polyphenols abundant in extra virgin olive oil are the primary drivers of the long list of health benefits associated with olive oil. In olive oil, the content of polyphenols ranges from 50 to 1,000 mg/kg, depending on the soil, how they are grown (organic or conventional), ripeness at harvest, extraction techniques, along with storage and packaging processes.1

Again, based on the range of polyphenols from one olive oil to another, it is critical to get the highest quality olive oil possible to ensure the greatest health benefits. Read on to see what olive oil won the LifeSpa olive oil test taste!

Bioactive Plant Polyphenols Benefits1

  1. Reduce overall sickness / morbidity
  2. Slow development of cardiovascular and neurodegenerative disease
  3. Strongly antioxidant against damaging reactive oxygen species
  4. Anti-inflammatory
  5. Anti-allergenic
  6. Anti-atherogenic and anti-thrombotic
  7. Anti-mutagenic
  8. Boost immunity

Olive Oil Winter Diet

Professor Flynn suggests adding 2 Tbs EVOO each day with other healthy fats at each meal, such as nuts and seeds. She also recommends the Mediterranean style of increasing consumption of vegetables at each meal, with particular emphasis on those with deep color and those from the cruciferous family. She also suggests consuming whole grains with minimal animal protein.

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According to Ayurveda, it is important to increase one’s fat intake in winter, as fats balance vata. Vata regulates the nervous system and is classically aggravated during the cold and dry winter months. Squirrels eat nuts and seeds in winter and so should we, plus adding olive oil or other healthy source of fat (like ghee). While adding just 2 Tbs of EVOO to the diet daily can be a year-round practice, I suggest making significant seasonal changes to the diet as all traditional cultures did and many, like the Mediterranean diet, still do.

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New Research on Cooking With Olive Oil

There has been much confusion around the safety of cooking with olive oil, as many studies find the smoke point of olive oil to be quite low. New research suggests that high-grade extra virgin olive oil is very stable at high heat and has a smoke point approaching 400°F.6

Past research may have suggested that olive oil should not be used for cooking which is true when you use off the shelf grocery store bought olive oil which is likely not 100% pure extra virgin olive oil as it says on the label. Research on these will result in an inaccurate conclusion with regards to olive oil can be used for cooking or not!

Most smoke point tests have been done on low-quality, likely adulterated olive oils purchased off a supermarket shelf. Studies on verified high-quality extra virgin olive oil have demonstrated low acidity, more stability, higher smoke point, higher resistance to oxidation, and longer shelf life compared to inferior counterfeit oils on the market.

Past research may have suggested that olive oil should not be used for cooking which is true when you use off the shelf grocery store bought olive oil which is likely not 100% pure extra virgin olive oil as it says on the label. Research on these will result in an inaccurate conclusion with regards to olive oil can be used for cooking or not!

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The stable properties of high-quality EVOO are primarily due to the polyphenols. Refining the oil or taking lower-quality oil from later stages of pressing significantly reduces polyphenol content. In one study, certain store-bought olive oils had as much as five times the polyphenol content as others.7

In a 2015 study on cooking with extra virgin olive oil, researchers found that frying with olive oil and water preserved the antioxidant content of the oil and the vegetables that were cooked and, in fact, boosted antioxidant content.6

Olive Oil Taste Test

A few years ago at LifeSpa, my team and I organized an olive oil taste test using the best oils we could source from around the world, including France, Italy, California, and other countries. While there were amazing oils from Europe, the organic oils from California were undoubtedly the best tasting. The winner of our taste test was from a small, family-owned farm in California named Fandango.

After investigating why their oil was so good, we found that just getting an organic certification in California is a major accomplishment, due to stringent toxin, heavy metal, and pesticide residue requirements laid out in the state’s Proposition 65.

At Fandango, on harvest day, olives are hand-picked when perfectly ripe, put into a certified organic mobile mill, then pressed immediately into oil. This process preserves the highest content of polyphenols and allows them to tout the lowest levels of oxidation on the market. Thank God for small farmers who care about small batch quality, not quantity!

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Over the years, the folks at Fandango have become good friends of ours, but LifeSpa has no business relationship with them other than we love and use their olive oil exclusively.

How to Guarantee the Best Olive Oil

cooking with olive oil organic

When sourcing olive oil, look for a harvest or press date. It is ideal to ingest the current year’s harvest.

If it is a California olive oil, make sure it is certified organic by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) and certified extra virgin by the California Olive Oil Council (COOC).

If the oil is from Italy, look for a DOP seal (Protected Designation of Origin), which means the olives are from where they say they are.

Do you use olive oil? What type do you like and what benefits do you notice?

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5877547/
  2. https://1.oliveoiltimes.com/library/ucd-blood-pressure.pdf
  3. https://www.oliveoiltimes.com/olive-oil-health-news/evoo-effective-in-lowering-high-blood-pressure/50151
  4. https://www.oliveoiltimes.com/olive-oil-health-news/olive-oil-improves-blood-lipid-profile-reduces-heart-disease/47026
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20545561
  6. http://acnem.org/members/journals/ACNEM_Journal_June_2015.pdf
  7. http://olivecenter.ucdavis.edu/research/reports
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26041214