Report Highlights Health Benefits, Disproves Myths Surrounding EVOO

The Olive Wellness Institute published a report to educate healthcare officials and the public about the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil.
Photo: Olive Wellness Institute
By Daniel Dawson
Apr. 11, 2023 21:11 UTC

The Olive Wellness Institute, an olive oil sci­ence orga­ni­za­tion, has pub­lished its inau­gural 2023 extra vir­gin olive oil health and nutri­tion report.

The report reviews the health ben­e­fits of extra vir­gin olive oil, how it is made, what sep­a­rates it from other olive oil grades, how to effec­tively cook with extra vir­gin olive oil and the sus­tain­abil­ity of olive oil pro­duc­tion.

By edu­cat­ing health­care pro­fes­sion­als, we hope that they will go on to edu­cate their clients and patients on the ben­e­fits of extra vir­gin olive oil.- Sian Armstrong, accred­ited dieti­cian, Olive Wellness Institute

Sian Armstrong, an accred­ited dieti­cian with the Olive Wellness Institute and Cobram Estate, told Olive Oil Times the report is mainly geared at health pro­fes­sion­als but is writ­ten in acces­si­ble prose for the gen­eral pub­lic too.

We decided to pub­lish this report as we wanted to have one sin­gle resource that was the go-to’ guide for all things health and extra vir­gin olive oil,” she said.

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We wanted a resource that was easy to read and digest and could ben­e­fit our tar­get audi­ence of health pro­fes­sion­als but also be acces­si­ble to the gen­eral pub­lic,” Armstrong added. We also wanted this report to help cre­ate some buzz around extra vir­gin olive oil.”

The report was pre­sented at an event in Melbourne, Australia, to an audi­ence of pub­lic health pro­fes­sion­als, health care pro­fes­sion­als, dieti­tians and nutri­tion­ists.

The main goal of this report is to edu­cate health­care pro­fes­sion­als on the health and well­ness ben­e­fits of extra vir­gin olive oil,” Armstrong said. By edu­cat­ing health­care pro­fes­sion­als, we hope that they will go on to edu­cate their clients and patients on the ben­e­fits of extra vir­gin olive oil.”

This will hope­fully have a flow-on effect to increase the con­sump­tion of extra vir­gin olive oil in Australia,” she added.

The report begins with a basic def­i­n­i­tion of extra vir­gin olive oil, fol­lowed by a detailed descrip­tion of what sets it apart from other grades of olive oil and cook­ing oils.

Extra vir­gin olive oilhealth-news-report-highlights-health-benefits-disproves-myths-surrounding-evoo-olive-oil-times

Extra vir­gin olive oil is a type of olive oil that is obtained from the cold trans­for­ma­tion of olives and is the high­est qual­ity olive oil. It is unre­fined, which means it retains its nat­ural fla­vor, aroma, and nutri­ents. To qual­ify as extra vir­gin, the oil must meet spe­cific chem­i­cal cri­te­ria, includ­ing hav­ing an acid­ity level of less than 0.8 per­cent. Extra vir­gin olive oil has a dis­tinct green­ish-gold color, a fruity and slightly bit­ter taste, and is rich in monoun­sat­u­rated fats and antiox­i­dants, mak­ing it a healthy choice for cook­ing and dress­ing sal­ads. It is widely used in Mediterranean cui­sine and is known for its health ben­e­fits, includ­ing reduc­ing the risk of heart dis­ease and low­er­ing cho­les­terol lev­els.

The Olive Wellness Institute high­lighted extra vir­gin olive oil’s bio­phe­nols, antiox­i­dants, health ben­e­fits and poten­tial to act as a car­bon sink as a few ways the prod­uct is dif­fer­en­ti­ated.

Modern sci­ence is uncov­er­ing how [extra vir­gin olive oil] is asso­ci­ated with a reduced risk of sev­eral chronic ill­nesses, includ­ing car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, hyper­ten­sion, dia­betes, obe­sity and some can­cers,” the report said.

The fatty acid pro­file of extra vir­gin olive oil and bioac­tive com­pounds with antiox­i­dant and anti-inflam­ma­tory prop­er­ties has been linked to pro­tec­tive effects against coro­nary, neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive, autoim­mune and inflam­ma­tory dis­or­ders, as well as being anti-throm­botic and reg­u­lat­ing blood pres­sure,” the report added.

The report rec­om­mends con­sum­ing 25 to 50 mil­li­liters of extra vir­gin olive oil daily to enjoy its health ben­e­fits.

The Olive Wellness Institute also com­pared the nutri­ent com­po­si­tion of extra vir­gin olive oil with com­mon com­peti­tors on super­mar­ket shelves, includ­ing canola oil, coconut oil and sun­flower oil.


The insti­tute high­lighted how extra vir­gin olive oil is pro­duced only mechan­i­cally, pre­serv­ing the polyphe­nols and phe­no­lic com­pounds that pro­vide health ben­e­fits, while seed oils are pro­duced chem­i­cally.

Seeds are very dif­fi­cult to extract oil from, so they need to be heated and the oil extracted with sol­vents and or high pres­sure,” the report said. Seed oils are then refined before being suit­able for human con­sump­tion. This means that most of the antiox­i­dants in seeds are lost dur­ing pro­duc­tion, and there can be the for­ma­tion of harm­ful trans fats and other sec­ondary prod­ucts of oxi­da­tion.”

As a result, extra vir­gin olive oil has up to 120 times more health-pro­mot­ing bio­phe­nols than canola oil. The report added that cook­ing with sun­flower oil pro­duces more alde­hy­des, a car­cino­gen, due to the removal of bio­phe­nols dur­ing the refin­ing process.

Biophenols in olive oilhealth-news-report-highlights-health-benefits-disproves-myths-surrounding-evoo-olive-oil-times

Olive oil bio­phe­nols are nat­ural chem­i­cal com­pounds found in extra-vir­gin olive oil, which is extracted from the fruit of the olive tree. These com­pounds have been shown to have var­i­ous health ben­e­fits, such as antiox­i­dant, anti-inflam­ma­tory, and anti-can­cer prop­er­ties. Biophenols are a type of polyphe­nol, which is a class of organic com­pounds that are nat­u­rally found in many plants, includ­ing olives. Olive oil bio­phe­nols are derived from the phe­no­lic com­pounds found in the olive fruit, which are then extracted dur­ing the oil-mak­ing process. The con­cen­tra­tion of bio­phe­nols in olive oil can vary depend­ing on sev­eral fac­tors, includ­ing the vari­ety of olive, the ripeness of the fruit, and the method of extrac­tion. Extra-vir­gin olive oil is typ­i­cally higher in bio­phe­nols than other types of olive oil and con­tains the high­est lev­els of ben­e­fi­cial com­pounds.

The Olive Wellness Institute report also dis­pelled some per­va­sive myths about cook­ing with extra vir­gin olive oil.

There is a com­mon myth that extra vir­gin olive oil can­not be used for high-tem­per­a­ture cook­ing due to its lower smoke point com­pared to some other cook­ing oils,” the report said.

According to the myth, extra vir­gin olive oil’s smoke point is too low for most types of house­hold cook­ing. When heated above its smoke point, edi­ble oils degrade and pro­duce polar com­pounds. Some polar com­pounds have been asso­ci­ated with neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases and other health prob­lems.

This myth is not sup­ported by any pub­lished evi­dence and smoke point does not pre­dict when an oil starts to lose sta­bil­ity,” the report said. Smoke point is not a good indi­ca­tor of how sta­ble an oil is when heated.”

Instead, some research shows that extra vir­gin olive oil is more sta­ble when exposed to high-heat cook­ing con­di­tions than other com­mon veg­etable and seed oils.

The report also high­lighted how cook­ing with extra vir­gin olive oil increases the bioavail­abil­ity of fat-sol­u­ble bioac­tive com­pounds, such as the numer­ous polyphe­nols. It pro­vided tips for con­sumers to use extra vir­gin olive oil in their recipes.

Among the tips are replac­ing com­mer­cial salad dress­ing with extra vir­gin olive oil, swap­ping but­ter for extra vir­gin olive oil in bak­ing, cook­ing sea­sonal veg­eta­bles with extra vir­gin olive oil and using extra vir­gin olive oil to make scram­bled eggs instead of milk.

The report con­cludes by sum­ma­riz­ing how extra vir­gin olive oil is pro­duced. It high­lights that olive oil pro­duc­tion from tra­di­tional groves cap­tures an aver­age of 10.65 kilo­grams of atmos­pheric car­bon diox­ide per liter.

Along with edu­cat­ing health­care pro­fes­sion­als and con­sumers, Armstrong said the report would hope­fully work as an advo­cacy tool for chang­ing nutri­tion guide­lines.

A fur­ther goal of the report is as an advo­cacy tool,” she said. We hope that pub­lic health pro­fes­sion­als in Australia will use the infor­ma­tion in this report to advo­cate for change to nutri­tion poli­cies such as the Australian Dietary Guidelines and the Health Star Rating.”

We would like to see cook­ing oils, and extra vir­gin olive oil, in par­tic­u­lar, ele­vated in these poli­cies, as cur­rently we do not believe the rec­om­men­da­tions and rank­ings best reflect the body of evi­dence,” Armstrong con­cluded.


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