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Surprising Side Effects of Using Olive Oil, Says Science

This delicious oil can have positive effects on your health from head to toe.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

Whether you use it in your homemade vinaigrettes or drizzle it on your favorite pasta dishes, olive oil is a staple in many kitchens. It's not just olive oil's rich flavor that has made it so popular, however—olive oil also has a long list of benefits for your wellbeing, from head to toe.

If you want to get healthier without sacrificing healthy fat in your diet, read on to discover the surprising side effects of using olive oil in your cooking, according to science. And for more easy ways to improve your diet, check out The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.


You may lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Female manager working on computer, suffering from sharp chest pain.

While many types of fat, including saturated fats and trans fats, have been linked to heart disease and arterial plaque, olive oil has some major benefits for your cardiovascular health.

According to a 2020 study published in the journal Circulation, individuals who consumed more than half a tablespoon of olive oil on a daily basis slashed their risk of coronary heart disease by 21% and their risk of any type of heart disease by 15%.

A 2011 study published in the journal Neurology also found that, among a group of 7,625 people age 65 or older, after adjusting for other risk factors including BMI and physical activity levels, individuals who regularly consumed olive oil had a 41% lower risk of stroke than those who reported never consuming it.

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You may lower your blood pressure.

Senior couple in pajamas in a bed in a bedroom measure each other's blood pressure. Concept of home health check

Approximately 45% of the U.S. adult population has high blood pressure, a condition that can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke—but adding some olive oil to your diet may help. A 2020 study published in the journal Nutrients found that, among a group of 50 adult study participants, those who consumed approximately two ounces of high-polyphenol extra virgin olive oil per day significantly reduced both their peripheral and central systolic blood pressure.


You may experience reduced inflammation.

young woman sitting in bed with back ache or kidney pain
Shutterstock / Nattakorn_Maneerat

If you're experiencing inflammation, whether it's joint pain or arterial inflammation due to plaque, olive oil consumption may benefit you.

A 2018 review published in the journal Endocrine, Metabolic & Immune Disorders – Drug Targets found that consumption of extra virgin olive oil reduced inflammatory biomarkers associated with atherosclerosis, the hardening of arteries due to plaque buildup. Additionally, a study published in the journal Nature found that extra virgin olive oil has anti-inflammatory properties similar to that of ibuprofen, thanks to its wealth of oleocanthal, a phenolic compound. (Related: This One Diet Can Help You Fight Inflammation, Study Says.)


Your anxiety may decrease.

sad woman near window thinking

Individuals struggling with anxiety may want to consider adding a little more olive oil to their daily meal plan. A 2021 study published in the journal Clinical Nutrition found that, among a group of adults with severe obesity, consuming olive oil over a 12-week period significantly reduced both anxiety and depression. For more ways to boost your mental wellbeing, These 5 Foods May Naturally Lower Your Anxiety, New Study Suggests.


You may have improved cognitive function in later life.

older woman doing a puzzle

Want to keep your brain sharp as you age? A little olive oil in your diet could be the key. Research published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that, among a group of healthy adults with an average age of 66.9, those who consumed a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil were more likely to display improvements in cognition (including memory, frontal, and global cognition), than those who adhered to a control diet. And for more ways to boost your brainpower, check out these 21 Tips That Improve Your Memory, According to Doctors.



Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more about Sarah
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