As average Americans develop a healthier lifestyle, they seek alternative foods, therapies and supplements.  Olive oil is a popular example since it's considered the "healthy oil" and a great alternative to other oils like sunflower, canola or peanut oil.  But is it really good for us?

Like many foods with claims of health benefits, olive oil has some drawbacks often ignored in it's mass appeal.  We have listed the claims and corresponding drawbacks below:


Olive oil is good for your heart.


Olive oil is a healthy alternative to other oils.

It's easy to think that healthy alternatives are actually good for you, when they are actually still bad for your general health in comparison to no oil at all.  However, when preparing high fat food that requires some type of oil, it is better to choose those with phytochemicals, like extra virgin olive oil. 

Also, it is best to cook and consume monounsaturated fats rather than saturated fats and trans fats.  This means that monounsaturated fats like those in olive oil, will still lead to plaque build-up in the arteries that can result in atherosclerosis, a leading condition that leads to stroke, heart disease and pulmonary embolisms.  High dietary cholesterol from any fat is still best avoided.  


If you consume olive oil, you will be a healthier person.


People who consume olive oil are healthier people.

Confused?  You should be.  This is an example of a clever trick marketers use to confuse you.  Say something one way and it means something different from the same thing said a different way.

No.  You will not necessarily be healthier from consuming olive oil or preparing foods with it.  However, those individuals who cook with this oil or consume it on salads and in marinades will likely have an overall healthier diet because they are more health conscious. 


All olive oil is the same.


There is a difference between light olive oil and extra virgin olive oil.

If you seek the best flavor and health benefits from olive oil, you should be prepared to spring for the higher quality extra virgin olive oil variety.   The major health benefits associated with olive oil have been linked to helpful plant chemicals like polyphenols and plant sterols.  These chemicals are mostly lost in the over-processed virgin olive oils or light versions of the oil, but are found in "extra" virgin olive oil varieties.  These phytochemicals are the primary "heart healthy" advantages of the oil in that they are known to offer some protection from fats consumed in a high fat meal.  


Olive oil is low in calories.


Olive oil has 120 calories in each tablespoon.

Any variety of oil is considered a significantly calorie-dense food.  Again, regard olive oil as a generally healthier alternative to other oils, but note that it is still a high calorie food.  This may be hard to accept when so many diet plans may suggest olive oil is a healthy part of the plan. 

It's just the healthiest alternative currently available for preparing low fat meals or for salads and marinades.  Just don't get carried away with this oil in dips or toppings with the idea that it is low in calories if it is part of a reduced-calorie diet plan.  Stick to the exact measurements to avoid the diet plan from failing to meet your expectations.  An extra two tablespoons is as many calories as your average candy bar!


Olive oil is good for your skin.


Olive oil is a great alternative to furniture polish, but not necessarily good for your skin.

While natural products like olive oil are often highly regarded based on the reduced chemicals and additives found in other products; you should still understand the molecular chemistry associated with any products you use on your skin or in alternative ways other than their primary use. 

Olive oil molecules are actually too big to fit into the pores of your skin and can actually lead to clogged pores.  This can cause the oil to sit on top of your skin instead of absorbing quick enough to avoid dirt and particles in the air from sticking to the oil on your skin.  This leads to higher incidents of break-outs.  

All oils are heavy moisturizers for your face and may be prone to cause clogged pores.  Jojoba or almond oil may be better alternatives for oil used on your face or sensitive areas prone to break-outs.  If you are still interested in using olive oil, use it sparingly or with your cleanser to provide some benefits of the oil without leaving a heavy residue.  Also, utilize the extra virgin olive oils which are from the first press of the olive and more refined.  This may help in reducing the chance of acne or clogged pores.

Two parts olive oil and one part lemon juice make a great furniture polish!  Oddly enough, it's best to not use the extra virgin olive oil since it does not work as well as the light or virgin olive oil versions. 


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