Olive oil may offer several health benefits, such as antioxidants, healthy fats, and anti-inflammatory properties, among others.

The health effects of dietary fat are controversial.

However, experts agree that olive oil — especially extra virgin — is good for you.

Here are 11 health benefits of olive oil that are supported by scientific research.

Olive oil is the natural oil extracted from olives, the fruit of the olive tree.

About 13.8% of the oil is saturated fat, whereas 10.5% is polyunsaturated, such as omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.

However, olive oil’s predominant fatty acid is oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that makes up 71% of the total oil content.

Studies suggest that oleic acid reduces inflammation and oxidative stress, and may even have beneficial effects on genes linked to cancer.

Monounsaturated fats are also quite resistant to high heat, making extra virgin olive oil a healthy choice for cooking.

Extra virgin olive oil contains modest amounts of vitamins.

For example, 1 tablespoon (tbsp) contains 13% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin E and 7% of the DV for vitamin K.

But olive oil is also loaded with powerful antioxidants that are biologically active. These may help reduce your risk of chronic diseases that affect your cardiovascular and central nervous system.

Antioxidants also fight inflammation and help protect blood cholesterol from oxidation — two benefits that may lower your risk of heart disease.

Chronic inflammation is thought to be a leading driver of diseases, such as:

Extra-virgin olive oil may help reduce inflammation, which may be one of the main reasons for its health benefits.

The antioxidants mediate the main anti-inflammatory effects. Key among them is oleocanthal, which has been shown to work similarly to ibuprofen, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug.

Research also suggests that oleic acid, the main fatty acid in olive oil, can reduce levels of certain inflammatory markers, such as C-reactive protein (CRP).

A stroke is caused by a disturbance of blood flow to your brain, either due to a blood clot or bleeding.

It’s the second most common cause of death, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The relationship between olive oil and stroke risk has been studied extensively, but the results are mixed.

For example, a 2014 review of studies on 841,000 people found that olive oil was the only source of monounsaturated fat associated with a reduced risk of stroke and heart disease.

However, a 2020 meta-analysis found no significant link between olive oil intake and stroke risk.

If you think you may be at risk of stroke, speak with a healthcare professional. They could recommend dietary and lifestyle changes for you.

Heart disease is the most common cause of death in the world, according to the WHO.

Observational studies conducted a few decades ago showed that heart disease is less common in Mediterranean countries.

This led to extensive research on the Mediterranean diet, which has now been shown to significantly reduce heart disease risk.

Extra virgin olive oil is one of the key ingredients in this diet, but the research on its benefits for heart disease is mixed.

For example, a 2018 review suggests it may help lower inflammation and increase HDL (good) cholesterol. The authors note it may also lower other blood lipids, but not as much as other plant oils.

On the other hand, a 2022 meta-analysis found that each additional 10 grams of olive oil consumed daily had minimal effects on blood lipids.

Olive oil has also been shown to lower blood pressure, which is one of the strongest risk factors for heart disease and premature death.

If you have heart disease, a family history of heart disease, or any other risk factor, you may want to consider including extra virgin olive oil in your diet.

Eating excessive amounts of calories may lead to weight gain, and fats are high in calories.

However, numerous studies have linked the Mediterranean diet, rich in olive oil, with favorable effects on body weight.

A 2018 review also found that diets high in olive oil helped promote weight loss more than diets low in olive oil.

However, it’s important to note that consuming excessive amounts of any food could lead to weight gain, and olive oil is no exception.

If you’re unsure about how much olive oil to consume, speak with a registered dietitian. They could provide dietary recommendations specific to you.

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common neurodegenerative conditions in the world.

One of its key features is the buildup of beta-amyloid plaques inside your brain cells, which may lead to a decline in cognition and memory loss.

A 2024 review found that olive oil may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive impairment. It may do this by reducing beta-amyloid plaques, neuroinflammation, and oxidative stress.

Keep in mind more research is needed to fully determine the impact of olive oil on Alzheimer’s disease.

Olive oil may help protect against type 2 diabetes.

A 2019 study found that people with prediabetes who took 55 mL of oleanolic acid-enriched olive oil each day were 55% less likely to develop diabetes than participants in the control group.

A 2017 meta-analysis also found that olive oil supplementation significantly helped reduce blood sugar levels and fasting plasma glucose in people with type 2 diabetes.

Cancer is one of the most common causes of death in the world, according to the WHO.

People in Mediterranean countries have a lower risk of some cancers. Experts believe the Mediterranean diet — which includes olive oil — may be the reason.

A large 2022 meta-analysis found that people who consumed the highest amount of olive oil were 31% less likely to develop cancer.

This may be due to the antioxidants in olive oil, which may help reduce oxidative damage caused by free radicals, a leading driver of cancer.

Despite the positive outlook, more research is needed to determine the exact role of olive oil on cancer.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease characterized by deformed and painful joints.

Although the exact cause is not well understood, it involves your immune system attacking healthy cells by mistake.

A 2023 study found that olive oil was linked with lower inflammatory markers and disease severity in people with rheumatoid arthritis, especially for more severe disease activity.

The researchers also found that olive oil helped decrease CRP levels, which may play a role in inflammation and disease progression.

However, limited research supports the effect of olive oil on rheumatoid arthritis.

A healthcare professional may recommend other natural remedies as part of your treatment plan.

Olive oil contains compounds that may inhibit or kill harmful bacteria.

One of these is Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), a bacterium that lives in your stomach and may cause stomach ulcers and stomach cancer.

A 2022 animal study found that extra virgin olive oil may help fight against certain strains of this bacterium.

That said, more research on humans is needed to support olive oil’s role in fighting bacteria and infections. There are other, better-studied ways of treating H. pylori.

Buying extra virgin olive oil may provide more health benefits than refined olive oil.

Extra virgin olive oil retains some of the antioxidants and bioactive compounds from the olives, whereas refined olive oil loses much of the olive’s nutrients.

It’s also important to carefully read the labels and ingredient lists before buying a product. Many oils that read “extra virgin” on the label have been diluted with other refined oils.

Look for the seal of approval from the North American Olive Oil Association.

Is a spoonful of olive oil a day good for you?

Research suggests that consuming as little as a 1/2 tbsp of olive oil daily may help reduce your risk of cardiovascular and heart diseases.

What are the benefits of olive oil?

Olive oil provides healthy fats, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties that could help prevent chronic diseases.

How much olive oil should you take a day?

There’s no exact recommendation for the amount of olive oil you should consume per day. However, taking at least 1/2 tbsp is associated with a lower risk of some chronic diseases.

Quality extra virgin olive oil is incredibly healthy.

Due to its powerful antioxidants, it benefits the heart, brain, joints, and more.