two whole fish on a plate of olive oil, with the sea in the background

We know we should eat nutritious foods to stay well, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Many also realize extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) offers numerous health benefits, so it can play a vital role in a healthy diet. While no food has been proven to prevent or treat COVID-19, some evidence suggests EVOO could help us combat the novel coronavirus.

Small bowls of olive oil and olives

Olive oil is good for us--so good that it is considered both a healthy food and a delicious medicine! There are so many articles about the scientific evidence for the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil that it’s hard to keep track of them. Here is an overview, followed by links to the best, clearest, most useful recent articles I’ve read.

The European Cultural Center of Delphi

“Some scientists say olive oil should be considered only a food, but the market seems to disagree,” said Prokopios Magiatis. He joined other olive oil experts in Delphi, Greece at the 2nd International Yale Symposium on Olive Oil and Health in December to discuss the impressive flavors, many uses, and promising health benefits of extra virgin olive oil.

Looking over the audience toward the speakers at the Olympia Awards ceremony in the Old Parliament in Athens

The Olympia Health and Nutrition Awards ceremony in Athens spotlighted high phenolic olive oils and evidence of their ability to help fight many diseases. For example, groundbreaking study results announced there suggest that high phenolic olive oils help combat at least one type of leukemia, breast cancer, mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s. 

Dr. Abu Bakar Siddique working in the laboratory

At the Olympia Health & Nutrition Awards conference in Athens, Greece in May, Dr. Khalid El Sayed discussed his research group’s groundbreaking discoveries: oleocanthal, a natural phenolic compound found in extra virgin olive oil, reduced the recurrence of one type of breast cancer in mice and limited the growth of other types of recurrent tumors.

Dr. Amal Kaddoumi with her research team

Results of a recent scientific study of mice at the University of Louisiana at Monroe suggest oleocanthal rich extra virgin olive oil deserves to be designated a "medical food." Researchers led by Dr. Amal Kaddoumi demonstrated for the first time that this type of olive oil can treat symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in mice when used in their daily diet.

Dr. Eleni Melliou presenting an award to Ioannis Prodromou of Yanni's Olive Grove

With 2500 entries, the 2018 Olympia Health & Nutrition Awards included more samples than any other olive oil competition in the world. Yet this was not its major claim to fame. Most olive oil contests focus on panel tests of flavor and aroma, but the Olympia Awards emphasize extra virgin olive oil’s health benefits and scientific evidence of these benefits.

Conference presenters and organizers grouped together

The International Olive Council, the largest and oldest global intergovernmental olive oil and table olives organization, partnered with the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) Olive Center to present impressive evidence for olive oil’s health benefits at an International Conference on Olive Oil and Prevention of Chronic Disease on January 17.

Hand pouring a spoonful of OLEO olive oil from a medicine bottle

Two Greek entrepreneurs have presented a new product: very healthy organic Greek extra virgin olive oil in a 150 ml container that looks like a medicine bottle. This is no coincidence: OLEO is meant to be taken as a nutritional supplement in measured doses of 5 grams per day for its health benefits, according to the OLEO team. So one bottle lasts a month. 

Yannis Prodromou accepting an award on behalf of Yanni's Olive Grove

Animal studies have suggested extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) may help fight off Alzheimer’s disease. Now the Greek Association of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders and Yanni's Olive Grove have begun a clinical trial in humans to evaluate the effect of EVOO on amnesic patients diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment, which leads to Alzheimer’s.

Dr. Prokopios Magiatis being interviewed by TV reporter

At a workshop for Greek olive oil producers in Chania, Crete, Dr. Prokopios Magiatis and Dr. Eleni Melliou of the University of Athens discussed the health benefits of important phenols in olive oil, as well as the economic benefits some of the healthiest extra virgin olive oils in the world could bring their producers and the steps required to make them.

Olive Oil Health Benefits Web Links