Olive Oil Health benefits & Side Effects

Olive oil benefits


Olive oil is the oil obtained from Olives. The scientific name of Olive is Olea europaea of the Oleaceae family. Olive trees are evergreen and grow mostly in Tropical and warm temperate regions of the world. Unique taste and beneficial properties make olive oil so popular in today’s world.

Olive and its connection with spirituality

Many great ancient civilizations consider olives as pious fruit.  This fruit is also mentioned in the Bible and the Holy Koran, as well as in Homer’s works (1). Aristotle and Hippocrates recognized the beneficial properties of olive oil, and recommended its ingestion and use as ointments for the treatment of diseases, such as stomach and dermatological ulcers (2).

Main components of Olive oil

According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), one tablespoon of olive oil contains the following components (3).

Components One tablespoon of Olive oil
Energy 119kcal
Fat 13.5 g
Monounsaturated fat 10g
Vitamin E 1.9 mg
Vitamin K 8.1 μg


Olive oil is also known as liquid gold as it contains a high percentage of single fatty acid. It is a good source of antioxidants with a high calorific value. The composition of Fatty acids is as follows (4).

Saturated fatty acids 14.5%
Palmitic acid 13%
Stearic acid 1.5%
Unsaturated fatty acids 85%
Oleic acid (Omega-9 fatty acid) 70%
Linoleic acid 15%
Palmitoleic acid 3.5%

Health benefits of Olive oil

Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) also has functional bioactive compounds like phenols and polyphenols, which makes it an excellent choice to live healthily.

1. Olive oil benefits due to the presence of Phenols

Different types of phenols present in olive oil help in reducing heart-related problems, different types of cancer like colon, breast, and skin cancers, slow down aging and protects from neurodegenerative diseases (5,6).

2. Olive oil health benefits due to polyphenols

Oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol polyphenols are believed to reduce morbidity and/or slow down the development of cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases as well as cancer (7). Also decreases blood pressure and treats hypertension (8).

3. Olive oil health benefits due to  monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA)

MUFAs help in reducing atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, obesity, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, or neurodegenerative disease, among others. Thus, olive polyphenols are potential candidates to combat chronic inflammatory states (9).

4. Low cholesterol diet rich in Olive oil  Improves fertility

High-fat diet-induced hypercholesterolemia resulted in low sperm count and abnormal sperm morphology. However, a diet enriched with olive oil improves sperm count and testicular efficiency, reduces the death of germ cells thus improves fertility (10).

5. Virgin Olive oil fortified with Vitamin D is good for bone

Olive oil having bioactive components like antioxidants and polyphenols helps in preventing bone loss and density. It is also good for those women who are suffering from osteoporosis due to menopause (11).

6. Olive oil is good for weight loss

Antioxidant-rich oil of the olive is very good for those who want to reduce their body weight and also want to control their blood pressure (12).

7. Olive oil strengthens the heart

MUFAs, Tocopherols, and polyphenols help in reducing cardiovascular diseases and prevents stroke. Olive oil improves endothelial function through its anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and anti-thrombotic properties, therefore reducing the risk and progression of atherosclerosis (13). Hydroxytyrosol and oleuropein found in olive oil improve high-density lipoproteins (good cholesterol) and reduce low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol) (14).

Components and its role in health benefits

Components in Olive oil

Health benefits

Phenols: Tyrosol, Hydroxytyrosol, Oleocanthal Prevents age-related macular degeneration (15).
Fatty acids Reduce Type II Diabetes up to 16% (16).
Phenols: Hydroxytyrosol, Oleocanthal, Triterpenes Prevents chronic neurodegenerative disorders like stroke, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s diseases (17).
MUFAs, Phytosterols, Phenols Improves gut microbiota (18).
Antioxidants Reduce bodyweight (12).
Antioxidants Improves blood pressure (12).
MUFAs, Tocopherols, and Polyphenols Reduce heart disease
MUFAs, Tocopherols, and Polyphenols Prevent stroke
Hydroxytyrosol and oleuropein Improves HDL and reduce LDL

Side effects of olive oil

Olive oil is very good for the heart and helps in reducing weight and controls blood pressure. But still, there are some side effects of using olive oil if it is used in excess or if the person has certain conditions. Therefore before using Olive oil you should be aware of the following side effects

1. High olive oil diet aggravates Cervical cancer

It is antitumorigenic in nature but excessive use may cause cervical cancer because of the presence of oleic acid (70–80%) (19).

2. Avoid Olive oil in case of eczema

In general olive oil contains a very less amount of irritant but possesses, relevant irritant capacity so if you have eczema you should avoid olive oil (20).

3. Risk of contact dermatitis

Regular massage with olive oil can cause occupational hand eczema in both inpatients and masseurs thus precaution should be needed (21).

4. pollen-food olive-olive syndrome

Persons who are having “pollen-food olive-olive syndrome” should avoid using olive oil (22).

Edited By: Dr. Asha Jyoti Bharati

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