The Mediterranean Diet* is based on the dietary traditions of olive-oil growing regions in the Mediterranean. It was originally developed after multiple studies concluded that the rates of chronic diseases in these regions were among the lowest in the world and adult life expectancy was among the highest. This diet preserves and re-vitalizes, within a modern lifestyle, centuries-old customs that contribute to excellent health and a wonderful sense of pleasure and well-being. A core ingredient in the Mediterranean diet is extra virgin olive oil.

Below is information regarding the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil and regular olive oil from some of the most prestigious health institutions in the world.

From Tufts University Nutrition Notes - August 2001

“New research suggests that the Mediterranean diet* has even greater heart-health benefits than previously thought. In a recent issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers at Tufts University, in cooperation with scientists from Spain, found that a diet similar to that of the Mediterranean region – low in saturated or “bad” fat and high in monounsaturated or “good” fat – helps prevent the development of heart disease in people with high cholesterol by improving the function of endothelial cells (cells that line the inside of the heart and blood vessels). Researchers suggest that the mechanism behind the “Mediterranean cure” lies in the abundance of fruits, vegetables, fish and olive oil. Olive oil and fish are high in “good” fat, while fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants, which are disease-fighting compounds.”

From The Mayo Clinic
Answers from Mayo Clinic nutritionist Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.

Question: What are the health benefits of olive oil?

Answer: When choosing fats, olive oil is a healthy choice. Olive oil contains monounsaturated fat, a healthier type of fat that can lower your risk of heart disease by reducing the total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol levels in your blood. In contrast, saturated and trans fats – such as butter, animal fats, tropical oils and partially hydrogenated oils – increase your risk of heart disease by increasing your total and LDL cholesterol levels. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), consuming about 2 tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil a day may reduce your risk of heart disease. You can get the most benefit by substituting olive oil for saturated fats rather than just adding more olive oil to your diet.

Question: Is extra-virgin oil better than regular olive oil?

Answer: All types of olive oil contain monounsaturated fat, but “extra-virgin” or “virgin” olive oils are the least processed forms, so they’re the most heart healthy. Those types contain the highest levels of polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant that also can promote heart health.”

*For more information on the Mediterranean Diet go to