It’s no secret that olive oil is an incredibly healthy ingredient. But do you know what makes it so nutritious? In this article, we’ll uncover five factors that make extra virgin olive oil one of the healthiest fats on the planet!

Health Benefit #1: EVOO contains a high amount of monounsaturated fats, mostly coming from oleic acid.

Monounsaturated fats, as their name denotes, only have a single double bond in their chemical structure. When they replace saturated fats in a diet, monounsaturated fats are associated with better cardiovascular prognosis. So if you want healthier fats in your diet, consider substituting out animal fats like butter and lard with extra virgin olive oil.

Health Benefit #2: Quality EVOO is a good source of polyphenols.

Ah yes, polyphenols. There’s a good chance you’ve heard of these powerful compounds and their praised health benefits in recent years. Polyphenols are naturally occurring in many plant-based foods, including extra virgin olive oil! There are many reasons why consuming more polyphenols is good for your health: they help fight inflammation; lower your risk for some types of cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s and other forms of cognitive decline.

Now, before you go buying olive oil in bulk, it’s important to note that not all olive oils are high in polyphenols. It really all depends on how the olive oils are processed and stored. So how do you know if an olive oil contains a high amount of polyphenols?

In the E.U., oils high in polyphenols can actually claim this on the bottle label. However, in the U.S. and Canada, this isn’t as common so it can be challenging to know.

In general, stick to cold-extracted extra virgin olive oils (not refined or light olive oils) and make sure the oil isn’t past its expiration date (there are more polyphenols in the first 9 months after pressing). Choose bottles that are in a dark container, rather than a light or transparent one which could damage the polyphenic content. And finally, learn more about the company. For example, here at Zucchi, we can provide a full report upon request on the polyphenol and nutritional content for each of our olive oils. Just reach out!

Health Benefit #3: EVOO is rich in Vitamin E.

Vitamin E helps protect your body from eye and skin problems, as well as cancer, diabetes, and neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s.

But wait a minute–you might be thinking: “Isn’t Vitamin E the skincare vitamin that you often see on face creams and lotion bottles?” Yes, it is. It’s an important vitamin for all kinds of cellular restoration, from sun damage to healing scars and burns. Rich in vitamin E, EVOO is good for you inside and out!

Health Benefit #4: Olive oil is also high in Vitamin K.

This is a necessary vitamin for improving blood coagulation, calcium storage, protecting against insulin resistance, and preventing some types of cancer. A single tablespoon of EVOO contains about 10 percent of your daily dose of Vitamin K.

Health Benefit #5: EVOO has antibacterial properties.

In particular, olive oil’s polyphenols decrease the concentration of a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori. This bacteria lives in your stomach and is one of the causes of stomach ulcers and stomach cancer.

Fortunately, EVOO’s polyphenols specifically help fight off multiple strains of this bacterium.

So let’s recap: extra virgin olive oil contains high amounts of monounsaturated fatty acids, polyphenols, and Vitamin E & K. It also has antibacterial properties that can help prevent stomach issues. Olive oil helps reduce and prevent inflammation, prevent heart disease, lower your risk for diabetes, fight off some types of cancer, and protect against neurological diseases and cognitive decline. Bonus: it’s great for your skin, too. Now that’s one superfood!

Remember: Not all olive oil is created the same! To maximize the health benefits you get from an olive oil, make sure you buy a high-quality, cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil and store it with care.