A recent nutrition survey conducted by the United Soybean Board, revealed that olive oil is seen as the healthiest cooking oil followed by flaxseed, canola and soy. However only 33 percent considered monounsaturated fats, which are the main type of fats in olive oil, very healthy or somewhat healthy, while polyunsaturated fats were rated as healthy by a much larger number (79 percent).
These results are similar to the results of the 2011 Food & Health Survey conducted by the International Food Information Council (IFIC).
According to the survey, nearly one in five Americans say they do not consider any fats to be healthful, and only 11 percent considered monounsaturated fats healthy. Olive oil is the richest source of monounsaturated fats compared to other vegetable oils. Monounsaturated fats can help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, may protect from certain types of cancer and provide better blood sugar control.
In addition monounsaturated fatty acids are more stable than polyunsaturated fatty acids which are found in higher amounts in other plant oils, and therefore less likely to generate damaging free radicals.
Of course the benefits of olive oil are not limited to its monounsaturated fat content, its numerous antioxidants are also responsible for its protective properties.