Learning About Calories in Olive Oil and Their Health Benefits

Olive oil is an ancient food that has been used by people for thousands of years.1 Unusually, it is extracted from the fruit, rather than a nut, seed, or grain like most other oils.

Olive oil is chiefly made in Europe (Spain, Italy, France and Greece) and a small amount is produced in California and North Africa. Olive oil is sometimes called sweet oil.

Olive oil varies in color and flavoring based on the ripeness of the olives, climate, type of soil and manufacturers preferences. Color, which can vary from dark green to almost clear, is contingent on the refining process and is not a fantastic indicator of flavor. A fantastic quality olive oil will be thicker than refined products, but maybe not overly thick.

Olive oil contains no carbohydrates or protein. All of its calories come from fat, mainly monounsaturated, making it an extremely heart healthy addition to your diet.

Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is supplied by the USDA for a single tablespoon (15g) of olive oil.3

Calories: 119
Fat: 14g
Sodium: 0.3mg
Carbohydrates: 0g
Fiber: 0g
Sugars: 0g
Protein: 0g

1 tablespoon of olive oil contains about 119 calories and 14 grams of fat, making it a high calorie food product. The fantastic news is that the fat is healthy, mostly monounsaturated, around 6.7 grams and polyunsaturated, 4.6 grams.

A small amount of calories come from saturated fat. Although the fat is the healthy type, you need to still portion control your olive oil. Utilize it moderately in cooking and dressing food. And if you are using it in a single serving, then note that one serving of fat is about one teaspoon of olive oil.

Health Benefits Of Olive Oil

Olive oil is full of vitamin E, a fat soluble vitamin that supports normal nerve conduction4 and plays a role in immunity.5 It is also a good source of vitamin K, which is another fat soluble vitamin that is responsible for blood clotting.6

In addition, olive oil is high in monounsaturated fat, which has been demonstrated to increase good cholesterol (HDL) and lower bad cholesterol (LDL).7

Some studies suggest that adding extra virgin olive oil into the diet, about one to two tablespoons every day, can have anti-inflammatory effects by reducing c-reactive protein.

Another way olive oil may help to protect the heart is based on its content of polyphenols. Some of the polyphenols in olive oil can protect against blood platelets from clumping together, which is a cause of heart attacks.8 The FDA supports the claim that"eating 1 1/2 tablespoons (20 grams) of olive oil each day may lessen the risk of coronary heart disease. "9

Other research indicates that consuming olive oil could protect us from cognitive decline,10 osteoporosis,11 and also enhance the balance of bacteria in our guts.12

It is important to note that many of the healthy components of olive oil, such as phytonutrients, are present in high amounts only in jojoba and extra-virgin olive oil.

What Is Extra-Virgin Olive Oil?

The label designations virgin, extra-virgin, and pure olive oil refer to the level of acidity of the oil as well as the extent of processing used to extract the oil. The general rule of thumb is the lower the acidity, the greater.13

Virgin olive oil is 100% unadulterated olive oil, meaning it is not heated or chemically processed. Instead, it is extracted from the yolk simply by mechanical means (either by pressing or spinning the olives after they are mashed into a paste). The most outstanding"extra virgin" has the maximum nutrition, a lower acidity than virgin olive oil, quite low rancidity, and strongest olive flavor.

Pure olive oil is processed from the pulp after the first pressing using heat and chemicals. It is lighter in flavor and less costly. The benefit here is that it has a more neutral flavor and a higher smoke point. Virgin and extra virgin olive oil have reduced smoke issues and will start to break down if heated too large, producing an off flavor.

Choosing and Preventing Olive Oil

The fats in olive oil make it susceptible to going rancid. Therefore, it is very important to protect it from light and heat.14 Once olive oil is discharged, you need to use it over six months. You know an oil is rancid as it smells or tastes off. To maintain oil in the best condition:

Purchase olive oil in dark glass bottles. Yellow and green glass cubes the damaging light rays that can cause an oil to go rancid.

Avoid purchasing bottles of oil that are dusty or have been put on the shelves for months.

Look to see if there is a date on the label, and try to get the freshest oil you can.
Shop olive oil in a dark, cool place or the refrigerator until ready to use. When refrigerated, don't be alarmed if the petroleum appears cloudy and thick. It will become a liquid again after it is at room temperature.

If stored properly, olive oil will maintain its flavor and nourishment properties.

Healthy Ways to Use Olive Oil

Olive oil is a staple in Mediterranean and European cuisine.1 Use extra-virgin olive oil to drizzle vegetables, soups, stews, bean dishes, meats, fish, and poultry. Or, use it to make light sauté or your own, lower sodium salad dressing.

If you are seeking to cook at higher heats, such as grilling, you can use extra virgin olive oil. But, you are probably better off having vegetable oil, canola oil, virgin, or pure olive oil, because of their higher smoke issues and more neutral flavor.

Heating extra virgin olive oil too hot can cause it to eliminate the properties that make it extra virgin. Nonetheless, it is important to be aware that some of the alternative oils are processed. Avoid extremely large heat cooking altogether, such as frying, as this type of cooking is rich in calories and may produce carcinogenic chemicals.