Amazing Benefits Of Olive Oil For Health, Hair & Skin + How To Use & Store

The liquid fat produced by pressing whole olives, native to the Mediterranean Basin, is olive oil. It is commonly used for cooking as well as in cosmetic, pharmaceutical and soap preparations. Factors like cultivar, altitude, time of harvest and the extraction process used bring about differences in the composition of olive oil.

Rich in healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, olive oil consists of 83% oleic acid and other fatty acids like linoleic acid (21%) and 20% of palmitic acid. (1) It is also rich in antioxidants. Extra virgin olive oil which is required to have no more than 0.8% free acidity is the one which has favourable flavour characteristics  and is rich in antioxidants and bio-active compounds. It is mostly used in salad dressing and also in foods to be eaten cold. The flavour of extra virgin olive oil is stronger when not subjected to heat.

Phenolics like esters of tyrosol hydroxy tyrosol oleocanthal and oleuropein, make extra virgin olive oil bitter and pungent. At least 30 phenolic compounds can be found in olive oil. Amongst these elenolic acid is a marker of maturity of olives. Other useful phenolic constituents of olive oil include flavonoids lignans and pinoresinol.

In an olive oil producing region, fresh olive oil has a noticeably different taste as compared to older oils available elsewhere. With time, olive oil deteriorates, becomes stale and less fragrant than fresh oil. It becomes more suitable for cooking than eating raw after one year.

Difference Between Virgin Olive Oil And Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra Virgin Olive Oil:

Obtained by cold mechanical extraction without the use of any solvents or refining methods, extra virgin olive oil is the highest grade of virgin oil.  It has a free acidity of not more than 0.8 grams per 100 grams.  This is considered to be having a superior taste.

It is also most expensive and has a two-year shelf life. Good extra virgin olive oil has fruity flavor and no defined sensory defects.The health promoting nutrients are present in the highest grade in this form of olive oil.

Virgin Olive Oil:

With free acidity of up to 1.5%, virgin olive oil is a lesser grade of virgin oil. It is judged to have a good taste but may have some sensory defects.  Refined olive oil is virgin olive oil that has been refined to eliminate high acidity or organoleptic defects.  It has a free acidity of not more than 0.3 grams per 100 grams.

Oils that are labeled as Pure olive oil or Olive oil are mainly refined olive oil to which a certain amount of virgin oil has been added for enhancing taste. (1)

Nutritional Value Of Olive Oil

100 g of olive oil provides 884 kcal of energy, 100 g fat with 73 g of monounsaturated fats, 14 mg of vitamin E and 60 micrograms of vitamin K.(1)


Health Benefits Of Olive Oil

Following are the health benefits of olive oil:

1. Good For Cardiovascular Health

Higher proportion of monounsaturated fats in the diet is linked to lower risks of coronary heart disease. So, regular consumption of olive oil is said to be good for people at risk of coronary heart disease. (2) The polyphenols present in olive oil work against oxidation of blood lipids (3) and help to maintain normal blood LDL-cholesterol levels. Normal LDL-cholesterol levels are needed for healthy heart.

Oleic acid present in olive oil replaces saturated fats (4) in the diet thereby promoting cardiovascular health.  Olive oil is also associated with improving the functioning of the lining of blood vessels as well as proving helpful in unnecessary blood clotting (5). It is also associated with reduction in blood pressure, which is a risk factor for pulmonary diseases and subsequent death.

2. Anti-cancer Properties

Positive role of olive oil has been found as far as the development of different types of cancer is concerned. (6) High consumption of olive oil was found to be especially related to lower odds of developing breast cancer and cancer of the digestive system.

It works by reducing the oxidative damage due to free radicals, by virtue of its constituent anti-oxidants. More studies are being done to establish the anti-carcinogenic properties of olive oil.

3. Beneficial In Case Of Stroke

A hindrance in the path of blood flow to brain caused either due to blood clot or bleeding results in stroke. A study revealed positive impact of high olive oil consumption for the older adults having the risk of stroke. (7)

Studies have revealed that monounsaturated fatty acids present in olive oil help in reducing the risk of stroke. So, regular consumption of olive oil can be beneficial against stroke.

4. Useful In Improving Cognition

Olive oil has been found to be good for brain health as well. It was found in a study conducted on 552 participants at high vascular risk, (8) that when subjects were given Mediterranean diets rich in extra virgin olive oil their cognition improved as compared to a low-fat diet.

5. Helpful In Rheumatoid Arthritis

An autoimmune disease resulting in painful and deformed joints is rheumatoid arthritis. Olive oil supplementation is beneficial for people suffering from the disease as it improves inflammatory markers and reduces oxidative stress. (9)

6. Cutting Down Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes protection properties of olive oil has been studied by various researchers. Olive oil, an integral part of Mediterranean diet, has been found to be having positive effects on blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity. (10)

So, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes can be cut down by switching to a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil. (11)

7. Anti-bacterial Health Benefits

Infection caused by Helicobacter pylori, bacteria responsible for stomach ulcers and stomach cancers, can be eliminated by consuming 30 grams of virgin olive oil daily for 14 days. (12)

Two clinical trials were done to evaluate the effect of virgin olive oil on H. pylori infected individuals. Moderate effectiveness of virgin olive oil in eradicating H. pylori was found. Presence of phenolic compounds are responsible for this bactericidal property of olive oil.

8. Anti-inflammatory Benefits

Chronic inflammation is one of the major factors leading to many diseases like cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases and degenerative joint diseases. The non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs commonly used to deal with these diseases have many side effects.

Presence of antioxidants in olive oil bestows it with anti-inflammatory properties. Oleocanthal, a phenolic compound, present in virgin olive oil is said to work similarly as anti-inflammatory drug, ibuprofen. (13) So, daily consumption of olive oil can curb inflammation to a certain extent naturally.

Olive Oil Benefits For The Skin:

Following are the skin benefits of olive oil:

9. Massaging Oil For Infants

Olive oil has a long history of being used as a skin care product. It is popularly used in massaging infants and toddlers. A comparative analysis of olive oil with mineral oil revealed that it is a safe alternative to sunflower, grapeseed and fractionated coconut oil, when used for infant massage. (14) It is also stated that mixing olive oil with a lighter oil like sunflower makes it more effective as it reduces the already low levels of free fatty acids in olive oil. It was found in another trial that topical skin therapy with olive oil lowers the risk of dermatitis in infants in all gestational stages as compared to emollient cream. (15)

The International Olive Council States The Following Benefits Of Olive Oil For Skin:

10. Antioxidant Benefits For Skin

It is rich in antioxidants Vitamin A, D, K and E that protect the skin from sunrays and wind and serves as a non-sticky long duration moisturizer.(16)

11. Protects From Skin Disorders

Olive oil improves skin health by keeping acne, inflammation, psoriasis and skin cancer at bay. It protects the skin from the free radicals that cause continuous cell oxidation and subsequent skin disorders.

12. Age Control Benefits

It has anti-aging properties by virtue of its ability to fight free radicals.

13. Cleans Skin Without Clogging Pores

Olive oil is also good for skin as unlike moisturizers available commercially, it does not block the pores. Blocking of skin pores is associated with many skin problems. You can apply organic olive oil to your face and neck at night and wash it off in the morning to reap the benefits. It cleans your skin as it has a good penetration without clogging the pores. (17)

14. Good Exfoliator

It also acts as a good exfoliator when combined with natural sea salt. The deep penetrating properties of olive oil along with gentle abrasive sea salt removes dead skin from the epidermis.

15. Beauty Enhancer

You can also use it for care of your nails and cuticles, as a remover of eye make- up and as a natural aftershave lotion.

Olive Oil Benefits For Hair

Following are the olive oil benefits for hair:

16.Dandruff Treatment

Unrefined organic olive oil works against dandruff and removes the flakes temporarily. You can apply it on the scaly patches on your scalp in small quantities. Allow it to sit for an hour and then comb your hair. (18)

17.Adds Strength And Shine To Hair

Olive oil works as a natural hair conditioner as it is rich in antioxidants as well as vitamin E and A. It has a protective effect on keratin in hair and is said to work against sebum build up thereby promoting formation of new hair follicles. It works as a natural hair softener and moisturizer. (19)

18.Reduces Split Ends

It is also good for managing split ends and frizzy hair. It works by moisturizing your hair. To get the benefits you just need to take a small amount of the oil and apply it on your hair.

19.Natural Hair Softener

A weekly olive oil treatment of hair is also good for softening your hair naturally especially post exposure to silicone based hair conditioners and softeners.


Is Olive Oil Good For Cooking?

Olive oil, especially extra virgin olive oil, is considered to be healthy for cooking purposes as compared to other vegetable oils. In a study (20) it was revealed that use of olive oil showed an important protection of meat and potatoes when compared to other vegetable oil. Like sunflower oil oxidised after 60 minutes of processing at 180 degree Celsius whereas olive oil did not. It maintained its antioxidant capacity due to the presence of tocopherols.

So, if you are using olive oil for cooking, use extra virgin olive oil and minimise the cooking time. Don’t reuse the oil as this would help maintain its antioxidant properties. The best way is to consume olive oil raw wherein all its bioactive constituents are completely maintained.

Is It Safe To Drink Olive Oil?

As olive oil is a monounsaturated, heart friendly fat rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, it is considered to be safe for drinking.(21)

As olive oil is calorie dense, you need to drink it in moderation. You can add it to your smoothies, salads or soups to make it more palatable rather than drinking it directly.

Is It Bad To Eat A Lot Of Olive Oil?

Yes, it is bad to eat olive oil in excess as it is calorie dense. Excessive calories if not burnt off gets stored as fat, thereby resulting in weight gain and other health problems. Satiety value of fats is also higher. So, excessive consumption of olive oil can hamper your hunger and you may end up consuming an unbalanced diet. Too much of any kind of fat is bad as it increases risk of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

How Olive Oil Helps In Weight Reduction?

Virgin olive oil is associated with high levels of plasma total antioxidant capacity, which in turn is associated with weight reduction (22).

Moreover, the satiating power of extra virgin olive oil reduces your hunger pangs. This further helps in weight reduction.

Can We Use Olive Oil Instead Of  Vegetable Oils?

Yes, you can use olive oil instead of vegetable oil as it will not only provide a unique flavour, but also make the food much healthier. Olive oil will help to reduce the bad cholesterol from your recipe and its anti-oxidants and vitamin E will give your heart a good healthy boost.

Relationship of Mediterranean diet rich in virgin olive oil with good cholesterol:

Virgin olive oil rich Mediterranean diet has been found to boost the functioning of high density lipoprotein (HDL) known as the good cholesterol. It improves key functions of HDL including reversing cholesterol transport, counteracting the oxidation of LDL which is related to plaque development in arteries and promoting vasodilatation. Consuming an extra quantity of virgin olive oil improves HDL functioning to a greater extent.(23)

Can I Put Olive Oil On My Hair Overnight?

Yes, using olive oil overnight is safe and effective against dryness, itchy and dandruff ridden scalp. You can cover your hair with a plastic shower cap or towel to protect staining of the pillows. Wash it off in the morning using a shampoo.

Is It Safe To Use Olive Oil As Lubricant?

  • As olive oil is non-greasy, easily available, natural and reduces dryness, it can be used as a lubricant.
  • It can be used to lubricate kitchen machineries like grinders, blenders etc. (1)
  • However certain drawbacks including strong smell, staining and relatively higher price has to be looked into.

How Olive Oil Is Good For Face?

  • The antioxidant properties of extra virgin olive oil make it a good choice for topical application on skin.
  • Vitamin A and E present in the oil helps the skin to revive back from damage caused due to exposure to sun and other environmental pollutants.
  • The oil also enhances skin elasticity and works as an anti-ageing agent.
  • Extra virgin olive oil is considered to be safe for direct application on your face.(24)


How To Use Olive Oil On Face?

  • It is advised to be massaged on face when slightly damp to avoid feeling greasy.
  • For exfoliation purpose, you can combine extra olive oil with sea salt or sugar and massage it on your face and rinse it with warm water. (24)
  • You can also use it to remove make up from your face. Little bit of lemon juice or aloe vera water can be mixed with the oil to soothe the skin.

How Olive Oil Helps In Hair Growth? How To Use It On Hair?

  • Olive oil helps in hair growth by virtue of its antioxidant properties that promote skin and scalp health.
  • You need to massage it on your scalp. This would promote blood flow and blood circulation which in turn would stimulate hair follicles and promote hair growth.
  • Warm olive oil can also be massaged and left overnight. Shampoo it off in the morning.

Is It Good To Fry With Olive Oil?

  • A smoke point of 320 degrees Fahrenheit makes extra virgin olive oil unsuitable for deep frying.(25)
  • Light olive oil having a smoke point of 460 degrees Fahrenheit is better for deep frying as compared to extra virgin olive oil.
  • Olive oil is best when used as salad dressing, used with food to be eaten cold or even when used for sautéing.
  • Taste deterioration of extra virgin olive oil takes place when used for frying.

Is A Tablespoon Of Olive Oil A Day Good For You?

Consuming 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil daily is considered to be good as it is a healthy way to meet the daily fat requirement of our body. Up to 1 litre per week of extra virgin olive oil has been used safely in Mediterranean diet.

1 or 2 tablespoons a day will help lower blood cholesterol levels, promote heart health and prove beneficial for inflammation due to the presence of monounsaturated fats in the oil. It can be used safely as long as it is 14% of total daily calories.(26)

Special Precautions Associated With Olive Oil

The Following are the special precautions associated with olive oil:(26)


Diabetics should check their blood sugar when taking olive oil as it is associated with lowering blood sugar. Moreover, taking olive oil with diabetes medications might dip the blood sugar level below normal.

Pregnancy And Breast Feeding:

Pregnant and lactating mothers are advised not to use olive oil in amounts greater than the amount found in foods.


As olive oil affects blood sugar it might affect blood sugar levels during and after surgery. So, it is recommended to stop consuming olive oil 2 weeks before surgery.

As olive oil is also associated with decreasing blood pressure, taking it with hypertension medicines can make your blood pressure go too low.

Dosage Of Olive Oil

The following are the dosage of olive oil:(26)

  • For easing constipation: 30 ml of daily oral administration of olive oil is advised for getting relief from constipation.
  • For high blood pressure: You need to consume 30 to 40 grams of extra virgin olive oil daily.
  • For reducing cholesterol: 2 tablespoons or 23 grams of olive oil needs to be taken.
  • For heart disease and heart attacks the recommen is 4 tablespoons or 54 grams daily.

What Do You Do With Old Olive Oil?

If your olive oil is old, rancid or expired it can be put into following uses:

  • Heal your dry and cracked heels using olive oil. Massage it and let it be for 30 minutes and then wash it off using lukewarm water.
  • Use it for massaging your hair and get rid of dry, itchy and flaky scalp.
  • Use it as makeup remover.
  • Use it to moisturize your dry skin.
  • You can soak your nails in warm olive oil for 15 minutes and then massage the nails and cuticles to strengthen the nails.
  • Can be used to lubricate various machines.