Olive oil & health


Because of its physico-chemical properties, extra virgin olive oil is of particular interest in nutritional terms.


Fats 99%, of which:
  • mono-unsaturated fatty acids: 55-80%
  • saturated fatty acids: 8-25%
  • poly-unsaturated fatty acids: 4-22%

Vitamin E: 150 mg/kg
Polyphenols: 2,5 mg/kg
Beta-carotene: 0,5-10 mg/kg



Produced by simply pressing olives - it is actually a fruit juice - virgin olive oil consists mainly of a mono-unsaturated fatty acid, oleic acid, which makes up 65-80% of its fatty acids. It is one of the fats with the highest proportion of mono-unsaturated fatty acids.

Virgin olive oil also contains other components in smaller amounts, but these play a very important role: in particular, vitamin E and polyphenols. Polyphenols are rare substances found mostly in green vegetables and fruits, and have an anti-oxidative action.


Because of its high level of mono-unsaturated fatty acids and minor components, including certain anti-oxidants (vitamin E, polyphenols...), olive oil, when consumed instead of animal fats rich in saturated fatty acids, helps to reduce your intake of saturated fatty acids and to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Oleic acid (a mono-unsaturated fatty acid) is thought to help reduce "bad" cholesterol (LDL) while increasing "good" cholesterol (HDL). The antioxidants in olive oil further reinforce the resistance of HDL cholesterol to oxidation, and are thus thought to further reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.



Extra virgin olive oil is must be eaten as part of a healthy balanced diet, such as a Mediterranean-style diet. Known for its nutritional virtues, this diet is based around the daily consumption of fresh and dried fruit and vegetables plus aromatic plants and condiments, bread and cereals, olives, dairy products, virgin olive oil and moderate amounts of wine.

Saturated, mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fatty acids

Fatty acids are the main constituent of all fats. But these vary according to what the oil is made from (olive, sunflower, groundnut, etc).

Saturated fatty acids
These play an important role as a provider of energy, but excessive consumption increases the overall level of cholesterol in the blood, which may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Poly-unsaturated fatty acids
These are essential for the body, which needs them but cannot make them itself.

Mono-unsaturated fatty acids
These are either neutral (and have no overall effect on blood cholesterol) or cause a reduction in total cholesterol and in LDL-cholesterol (the "bad" type) but not in HDL-cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol, which tends to rise). For this reason, it is particularly recommended to consume these instead of saturated fatty acids.


Good to know
Nutritional guidelines state that 30-35% of energy from food should be provided by fats.
To respect this recommendation, an adult must consume an average of 65-80g of fat a day through all possible dietary sources (fat in foods, and in oils and butter added to food, etc.).