Wellness Series: The Health Benefits of Olive Oil


Supermarket aisles present a plethora of cooking oil options. Scientific evidence suggests you can make a simple and healthy choice by choosing olive oil above the rest. This versatile oil dates back to ancient Rome, but, it wasn’t until recently that doctors starting unmasking the health potential of this liquid. This week, we feature answers from our Expert Medical Network on olive oil.

Why is olive oil healthy?
Olive oil, like canola oil is a monounsaturated fat and these have been shown to lower cholesterol. These are considered to be healthy fats and so can be eaten regularly.

-Dr. Mary Callahan



Is olive oil good for cooking and if so what is better; virgin olive oil or regular olive oil?
A trial in 200 men showed oil with higher amounts of polyphenols, virgin olive oil, had greater effects in raising HDL-C and lowering oxidized LDL than refined olive oil. This study does appear to show that other components apart from monounsaturated fatty acids affect lipid levels, it is uncertain whether it was actually the polyphenols that resulted in these differential benefits.

-Dr. Joseph Rosin

How does olive oil reduce cholesterol?
Olive oil is rich in unsaturated fat and has been shown to increase your good cholesterol (HDL) and lower your bad cholesterol (LDL). It does not mean that you can replace olive oil with your other oil and constantly eat fried/greasy food. The liver will see this as just a mass input of fat and eventually this will be detrimental to your health. You should visit your PCP and come up with a plan.

-Dr. David Wyatt

What does olive oil help with in skincare?
Extra virgin oil doesn’t have any proven healing properties above other oils. That said, you can relieve dryness and some superficial irritation temporarily with oil on your skin. Lena Horne, who was one of the classic beauties of our time once said that she never washed her face and only applied olive oil to her lovely complexion every night. I think she was just blessed with great genes.

-Dr. Frederick Coville

We hope you learned something about this ancient oil and how it can affect your health. If you would like your own question about olive oil or another health topic answered, we invite you to ask one of the many doctors at HealthTap.