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Olive Oil – Definition, Properties, Benefits, Types, Components, and More

Olive Oil Definition

Olive oil is a vegetable oil that mainly uses culinary. It obtains the olive tree ( Olea europaea ), called olive or olive. Almost a third of the pulp of the olive is oil.

Thus, since ancient times it has been easily extracted with a simple pressure exerted by a mill. In Spain, the facilities where the oil obtains are called oil mills.

It has also been used for cosmetic uses, medicinal, religious, and oil lamps.

The olive or olive is not usually eaten raw due to its flavour (mainly due to phenolic compounds ). This flavour significantly reduces by applying various mashing processes. However, 90% of the world’s olive production use to produce oil.

What are the Properties of Olive Oil?


  • The properties of olive oil are known to most of the population. And it is that the consumption of EVOO regularly provides us with a large number of nutrients whose properties help our body to perform its essential functions.
  • It has also shown that the benefits of extra virgin olive oil in our body go further since it reduces the appearance of some diseases and increases life expectancy.
  • Well, how would you stay if we told you that taking olive oil on an empty stomach, along with other compounds, enhances its qualities?
  • Many diets recommend consuming freshly raised proteins to stop nocturnal muscle catabolism: Iberian ham, turkey, omelette. And the truth is that it is something significant for this purpose.
  • However, here we focus on the benefits that olive oil provides, which are very different, specific, and more focused on health than physical.
  • Next, we tell you the benefits of taking this liquid gold on an empty stomach.

What are the Benefits of Olive Oil?

Benefits of Olive Oil

1. Prevents Cardiovascular Diseases

  • The fatty acids present in virgin olive oil, especially oleic acid, reduce LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol).
  • They increase HDL cholesterol, good cholesterol, increase arterial vasodilation, improve blood circulation, and lower blood pressure.

2. Promotes Digestive Function and Reduces Gastrointestinal

  • It is protecting against gastrointestinal diseases.

3. Helps Fight Constipation

  • It is having a mild laxative effect and improves the intestinal absorption of nutrients.

4. Help Bones

  • It contributes to the correct mineralization of the bones and their development.
  • Therefore, children’s diet during growth and adulthood must limit the loss of calcium that occurs during ageing, leading to osteoporosis.

5. Reduce Stress

  • It plays a protective part against cellular oxidative stress due to its high phenolic antioxidants, like vitamin E.

6. Cancer

  • A lower incidence of multiple types of cancer in Mediterranean countries (the primary consumers of olive oil) than countries in Northern Europe and the United States.
  • For example, breast cancer, related to the consumption of saturated fat of animal origin.

Types of Olive Oil

olive oil

We can talk about different types of olive oil depending on its main characteristics and its method of obtaining:

1. Virgin Olive Oil

  • It is achieved only by mechanical procedures that do not alter the oil’s qualities, crushing the olives and applying cold pressure to extract it.
  • It is a natural product that preserves olives’ flavour and characteristic properties and does not need to refine.
  • There is an excellent variety of virgin olive oils distinguished by their acidity and antioxidants, and other minor components give them their diverse biological value.
  • The concentration of the different components depends on factors such as the type of olive.
  • Its degree of maturity (vitamin E, polyphenols, and beta-carotene decrease with the maturation of the olives, so the greener they are at the moment from the extraction of the oil, the healthier the final product will be), but also from the technology used to press and extract the oil.

It can classify into:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

It is the highest quality, and its acidity should not exceed 0.8 degrees. Edge has nothing to do with the oil flavour but instead determines the amount of free fatty acids expressed as oleic acid and is related to making the product.

High acidity is due to defects in the olives or anomalies in their treatment or conservation. However, a very low acidity, for example, 0.1º, does not mean that the oil is exceptional.

2. Refined Olive Oil

  • Virgin olive oils with a high degree of acidity or organoleptic characteristics are not appropriate. They come from low-quality olives or, because of the procedure used for their extraction, need to undergo a refining process, which eliminates impurities.
  • But also its original colour and properties, so that the oil obtained after refining has a lower degree of acidity (does not exceed 0.3º) and has hardly any flavour or aroma.
  • It is the most consumed in our country and comes from a mixture of virgin and refined olive oil, so it contains some of the nutritional qualities of pure oils. Its acidity must not exceed 1º.

3. Olive Pomace Oil

  • It obtains by applying chemical solvents to the olives’ residues that remain after being ground and pressed.
  • With this procedure, crude olive-pomace oil is obtained, which is not edible. It is necessary to refine it and mix it with virgin olive oils, other than lampante, to consume it.
  • Thus, it obtains the least natural and worst quality, whose acidity cannot be higher than one degree.

Main Components of Olive Oil

The olives with which olive oil make are full of properties that make it healthy food and for cooking, frying, or dressing in practically all audiences’ daily diets. These are the main components :

1. Monounsaturated Fatty Acids

  • It increases the levels of HDL (the ‘good’) cholesterol in the blood.
  • This prevents the oxidation of lipoproteins – associated with the development of cardiovascular diseases – and other substances related to the appearance of some types of cancer. It represents almost 74% of the total oil.

2. Saturated Fatty Acids

  • Among the saturated fats are palmitic acid, which corresponds almost to 11%, and stearic acid, 2.2%.
  • Abuse of this type of fat can promote the appearance of ‘bad’ cholesterol; however, its amounts are tiny in liquid gold.

3. Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (Linoleic Acid)

  • It is another healthy fat that prevents clogging of the arteries thanks to the omega 3 and 6 included in this group, necessary for the growth of cells and the brain’s proper functioning.
  • It accounts for 8.4% of the oil composition.

4. Tocopherols ( Vitamin E )

  • Twenty-five grams of virgin olive oil provides 50% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin E in men, and 62% in women, according to the book  ‘Virgin olive oil, our food heritage.’

5. Phytosterols (Lipid-Lowering Capacity)

  • They inhibit the intestinal absorption of cholesterol and reduce its total plasma concentration).

6 Beta-Carotenes ( Provitamin A )

  • A powerful antioxidant found in olive oil, but it also positively interferes with the absorption of this compound when it comes to other food.

7. Polyphenols

Virgin olive oil, in particular, contains around 30 phenolic compounds, among which tyrosol, hydroxytyrosol, and oleuropein.

It has an important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacity, among others.

8. Oleocanthal

  • Oleocanthal is an anti-inflammatory molecule that could act in the same way as ibuprofen.
  • It also contains other substances in low concentration, which provides its characteristic flavour, colour, and aroma as natural vitamins and antioxidants. It also prevents the oil from self-oxidizing and rancid.

Olive Oil in the Mediterranean Diet

  • It is the most typical food of the Mediterranean diet.
  • Although it’s only been three decades since scientists checked their beneficial health properties, olive tree cultivation dates back to 6,000 years ago.
  • Ancient civilizations, such as the Egyptians, learned to value its culinary qualities, and they also used it for medicinal and religious purposes.
  • In Greece, it also highly appreciate and became an important object of trade.
  • And under Roman domination of the Iberian Peninsula, olive cultivation reached its peak, and the oil from Spain was a great success among Roman aristocrats.

Olive Oil for Cooking

olive oil

The extra virgin olive oil and its beneficial influence on health have a flavour that makes it an essential ally in your kitchen. As with wines, the oil should use for each type of dish.

It is advisable, mostly when you use it raw, to try different oil brands made with other olives to discover which varieties you like best. Of course, do not forget that olive oil provides nine calories per gram, so its consumption should be regular but moderate.

1. Crude Oil

  • It uses to dress salads and vegetables (raw or cooked), accompany breakfast bread, aperitif, or snack, and make sauces such as mayonnaise, vinaigrette, and aioli.
  • It adds to dishes as typical of our kitchen as gazpacho, Ajoblanco, Salmorejo, some cold soups.

2. Frying Oil

  • Frying is a quick way to prepare food, very common in the Mediterranean area. Virgin olive oil is suitable for frying because it is stable at high temperatures (temperatures between 170 and 180 ºC reach during the process).
  • Foods cooked in this way enrich with the flavour and components of the oil used, although they increase their energy load and suffer losses in their nutritional value.
  • When frying in a pan, keep in mind that the oil must not smoke during preheating (before adding the food).
  • It must not reuse more than five times and, if possible, always to fry similar foods. It must also filter before storage, in an opaque container, and keep it away from light and heat.
  • Some people think that using extra virgin oil for cooking is a waste and should only be consumed raw.
  • Extra virgin oil can be used correctly in stews since it is of higher quality and has a better flavour. However, it is more expensive, so for cooking, you can buy it in larger containers, five litres, which will always be cheaper.
  • In that case, it is convenient to distribute the oil in smaller bottles or containers. And keep them in a cool place and away from light so that it is better preserved.

Contraindications of Olive Oil

As we have commented in other posts, olive oil 93% composed of fat. Mostly healthy, but it must remember that the caloric intake of fat is the highest of all types of nutrients. Therefore, olive oil consumption has to be moderate not to gain weight.

The previous point’s recommendation is to set the perfect amount in a tablespoon of olive oil to start the day. It is a useful reference, always accompanying it with a healthy and balanced diet for the rest of the day.

And luckily, in terms of cons-indications, the consumption of olive oil on an empty stomach does not have anymore. So there are no excuses.


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