Olive oil, made from pressed olives, is a useful ingredient to keep on hand. This oil is highly diverse, meaning it has many uses for a variety of things.
The nutritional analysis of olive oil shows that it is one of the best types of oils to use for cooking, with only 120 calories per tablespoon. You can also use olive oil as a beauty aid and as a nutritional supplement for your pet. However, there are some limitations to cooking with olive oil.
In this guide, we’re going to look at olive oil, including what it is (oil produced from olive fruit), how it’s made (by pressing the olives), and how you can use it (cooking, beauty, pet care). We’ll also discuss olive oil nutritional facts and the number of calories (120 per 1 tbsp). Let’s get ready to learn.
What Is Olive Oil and Where Does It Come From?
Olive oil is a liquid fat that comes from whole olives. Olives grow on trees, mainly in the Mediterranean. It is one of the three main crops grown in this location. You can trace its history as far back as the 8th millennium BC.
Places where olive trees are common include:
- South Africa
- New Zealand
Olive trees do best in soil that has calcareous soil such as limestone or clay. Rich soil puts these trees at risk of disease and poor growth.
They need hot weather and a lot of sun without shade. Temperatures below 14°F (-10°C) can cause damage to the trees and fruit production.
Olive trees do not need a lot of water, so they do well in climates where there are frequent droughts. When cared for and pruned properly, olive trees can live and produce fruit for centuries. Most olive trees will not grow taller than 50 ft (15 meters).
How Is Olive Oil Made?
Olive oil derives from whole olive fruits that grow on trees. Once picked, these fruits go through a process that smashes the olives, which produces oil.
It takes a few years before olive trees start to produce olives to harvest for the production of olive oil. And this isn’t the type of tree that can be grown and left alone.
Olive trees require specific pruning for the tree to grow the proper amount of olives. And it will take a lot of olives. One liter or four cups of olive oil needs at least ten pounds of whole olives.
Harvesting plays a crucial role in the olive oil tastes and the polyphenol content levels. Olives only stay ripe for picking for two to three weeks. Over the next five weeks, the health properties will decline.
The ideal harvest time is right as the olives ripen. Waiting too long can make the olives lose flavor and health benefits. Depending on your climate, olives should be picked between the months of late August to November.
Olives picked while they are still green are the best fruits for eating. These olives should be picked starting in the fall, around the end of August.
If you want to produce oil from pressed olives, you will need to wait until the fruit matures and starts to turn the natural color of black. These olives should be picked around November. Handpicking the olives produces healthier fruit, but some companies use a technique that shakes the tree, catching the fruit in nets, so they don’t bruise.
Some companies separate the olives into ground and tree, using the fruits that have hit the ground in different products than those picked from trees. Ground olives are better for making oil since they are likely already damaged from hitting the dirt. Damaged olives cannot survive the curing process, which reduces the bitterness of the fruit.
There are different techniques for the process of making olive oil that vary based on location, but the basics are the same.
- Before olives are pressed, the batch has to be examined for any twigs, stems, and leaves. Then the olives are washed.
- Steel rollers crush the fruit into a paste to extract the oil, including the skin, inner meat, and pits.
- Next, water is added to the paste in a process called malaxation, which allows the molecules of the oil to bind together and concentrate.
- Over the next twenty to forty minutes, the mixture is continuously stirred. Longer stir times can increase flavor, but it can also produce free radicals that can reduce your oil quality.
- After mixing, the paste transfers to a mat. At this time, there may be more pressing or go through a centrifuge that spins to separate the solid components of the paste to the sides. The liquid portion goes into the center of the centrifuge for the separation of the oil and water.
- The leftover solid portion of the paste, called pomace, can be sold as pomace oil, which is lower quality. Or it can be steamed or mixed with solvents to continue extracting the remaining oil.
- For the final step, oil can be deodorized, which removes the aroma of the oil; bleached, which removes chlorophyll and carotenoids (natural pigments that give olives their color); or refined, which reduces acidity and bitter taste.
There are many health benefits to olive oil, including healthier alternatives to higher fats like canola or vegetable oil.
|Per 1 Tbsp
|Lite Olive Oil
|4.5 g (0.16 oz)
|4.2 g (0.15 oz)
|14 g (0.49 oz)
|13.5 g (0.48 oz)
How Many Calories Are in 1 Tbsp of Olive Oil?
Olive oil has 120 calories in one tablespoon (14 grams or 0.49 ounce). Compared to vegetable or animal fats, this is the same amount of calories. Both vegetable oil and butter also have 120 calories.
How Many Carbs Are in 1 Tbsp?
Olive oil does not have any carbohydrates, making it a great ingredient if you’re on a weight management program. Also, olive oil can actually curve your desire to consume carbs due to it being healthy fat.
How Many Ounces Are in a Tablespoon?
One teaspoon of olive oil is the equivalent to 0.5 fluid ounce. Most recipes you can find that include olive oil require no more than one to two tablespoons, meaning less than one ounce. A little goes a long way.
Is the Nutrition and Calories of Extra Virgin Olive Oil Different for Different Types of Olive Oil?
Extra virgin olive oil (EEVO) is minimally processed, so it’s the healthiest type of olive oil you can get. It’s also the highest quality.
Compared to regular olive oil, which has 100 calories, EEVO only has 40 calories, making it the healthiest type of olive oil. Olive juice contains 25 calories per 1 fluid ounce (31 grams).
Lite olive oil, also referred to as light or mild, doesn’t have as much flavor, but it still contains the same amount of calories, which is about 120 per tablespoon.
How Do Olive Oil Nutrition and Calories Compared to Olive Nutrition and Calories?
Both whole olives and olive oil are rich in monounsaturated fats, which are healthy fat. These types of fats reduce inflammation and the chance for developing heart disease.
But you get less of this fat if you’re eating whole olives instead of using olive oil. Oil is 100% fat, while the olive fruit has around 20% fat. One tablespoon of olive oil is 120 calories, whereas one serving of fruit (10 medium-sized olives) has 40 calories.
But whole olives do contain 0.1% fiber, which is a benefit compared to the 0% of OO. Black olives also contain iron, as much as 0.53 mg (1.87 oz) per one tablespoon.
And as if that’s not enough to love about this healthy fruit, olive fruits also have Vitamin E, polyphenols, and antioxidants that keep your body free of radicals that can cause heart disease and cancer.
However, olives can contain sodium, which can be dangerous if you’re watching your blood pressure. Olive oil is sodium-free.
What is the Serving Size for Olive Oil and Olives? How Much Olive Oil per Day is Healthy?
The recommended serving size for olive oil is one tablespoon. And the Food and Drug Administration puts a limit of 1 ½ tablespoon of olive oil a day is enough to provide you with health benefits without being too much.
However, it depends on the type of olive oil on whether it’s good or bad. Extra virgin olive oil is always the most recommended type of olive oil because it is much healthier. Pomace oil isn’t as healthy.
A serving size for whole olives would be 15 to 20 grams (0.53 to 0.71 ounce) per serving, which equals about four or five olives. These ratios are based on adults and not children. You can eat olives as a snack or add to your meals, such as a salad or spaghetti.
Olive Oil vs. Other Commonly Used/Substituted Oils
Olive oil isn’t the only type of oil out there, and it’s certainly not the only one that experts recommend. Let’s look at how olive oil compares to other oil types.
Olive Oil vs. Coconut Oil
When it comes down to olive oil or coconut oil, it may surprise you that olive oil is healthier than coconut oil. One tablespoon of coconut oil has six times (12g or 0.42oz compared to 1.9g or 0.07oz) the amount of saturated fat compared to olive oil.
Too much saturated fat can cause higher LDL (bad cholesterol) numbers and increase your heart disease risks. Olive oil contains monounsaturated fats, which are good, meaning they have healthier benefits.
Olive Oil vs. Avocado Oil
Avocado oil is another healthy oil alternative that experts recommend for cooking a healthy meal. Avocado and olive oil both contain good fats that help the heart instead of clogging it. And they both have anti-inflammatory properties and reduce heart disease.
When comparing calories, both EVVO and avocado oil have 120 calories, 14 grams (0.49 ounce) of fat, 2 grams (0.07 ounce) of saturated fat, and 10 grams (0.35 ounce) of monounsaturated fat. Avocado does have a higher polyunsaturated fat count of 2 grams (0.07 ounce) compared to olive oils’ 1.5 grams (0.05 ounce).
If you are using high-heating cooking techniques, you might do better-using avocado oil over olive oil, but in all other aspects, they are mostly the same. Either option is a good choice.
Olive Oil vs. Vegetable Oil
When it comes to olive oil vs. vegetable oil, OO is a healthier option, but it has a lower smoke point, meaning it can’t be used at high temperatures the way vegetable oil can.
Vegetable oil is an oil that comes from the extraction of seeds or fruits. It encompasses multiple types of fat, including peanut, canola, olive, and others. Veggie oil contains 120 calories, the same as olive oil. But it does have a total fat of 13.6 grams compared to olive oil’s 14 grams.
Olive Oil vs. Canola Oil
Looking at the numbers, canola oil has 62% monounsaturated fat (78% for olive oil), 31% polyunsaturated fat (8% with olive oil), and 7% saturated fat (olive oil has 14%). As for calories, both canola oil and olive oil have the same number: 120.
Using canola oil when you’re cooking something at high heat won’t hurt you, as long as you do so in moderation. Too much canola oil can be bad for you. So limit the uses to cooking things where olive oil won’t work, such as frying.
Olive Oil vs. Sunflower Oil
When it comes to calories, olive oil and sunflower oil tie at 120, but that’s where the similarities end. Olive oil has many health benefits as well as trace minerals which are good for your body. Sunflower oil lacks these essential components, making it a less healthy option.
Both oils have high polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids that reduce bad cholesterol. But sunflower oil can mess with the crucial balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
Olive oil does have a higher concentration of vitamin K with eight micrograms compared to 1 microgram with sunflower oil.
Olive Oil vs. Grapeseed Oil
Grapeseed oil has plenty of benefits, but olive oil outdoes it to be the healthiest, most beneficial oil to use. Grapeseed oil contains 10% saturated fat (10-20% for OO), 16% monounsaturated fat (55-83% OO), and 70% polyunsaturated fat (3.5-21% with OO).
Olive oil has a higher vitamin count than grapeseed oil. And the lower polyunsaturated fat makes it the clear winner at which oil is a healthier option. Grapeseed oil is a better solution than canola or other plant oils. But it isn’t better than olive oil.
Is Olive Oil Bad for You?
For years, it’s been said that olive oil is healthy and good for your heart. But recent studies are finding something completely different.
Olive oil is rich with monounsaturated fats, which is better than oils with saturated or trans fat. And due to the high-calorie content, using olive oil in your cooking can increase the calorie density of your meal, even if it was supposed to be low in calories.
Too much olive oil can cause weight gain and poor health, including a higher risk of heart disease and high cholesterol.
What Are Some of the Primary Health Benefits of Olive Oil?
Olive oil contains hydroxytyrosol, which is a cancer preventative phytonutrient. Hydroxytyrosol might also help prevent bone loss, although the studies are still ongoing.
Olives and olive oil can also reduce inflammation due to chronic conditions, although not everyone will see it. It varies by person. And in some cases, olive oil can work as an antihistamine, reducing any swelling that may result from an allergic reaction.
Also, olive oil contains high levels of oleic (a type of monounsaturated fatty acid) and low traces of alpha-linolenic acid (Omega-3 fatty acid). These components have been linked to reduced heart disease, lower blood, and LDL cholesterol, and lowered blood pressure.
Is Drinking Olive Oil Healthy?
There are claims that drinking ¼ cup of olive oil each morning can have multiple health benefits. First, drinking olive oil can help you get your recommended daily amount of fat (20-35%), with most of the fat content coming from polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA).
Daily consumption of 1 teaspoon (4 ml) of olive oil a day can help solve constipation and work as a stool softener. However, more studies are being done to validate these claims.
Drinking olive oil may also reap heart benefits, although there still needs to be a lot more research to prove this true or false. But drinking olive oil can also stabilize blood sugar, improve bone strength, and reduce inflammation.
However, drinking olive oil can also cause weight gain due to the high-calorie content. And research has shown that you would get more health benefits by mixing your olive oil in food rather than consuming it alone.
Choosing the Right Olive Oil
It may surprise you at how many different variations of olive oil are available. And it can get confusing trying to figure out which one is the best option. We’re here to help you understand how to pick the right olive oil.
How Do You Go About Choosing the Right Olive Oil?
The best way to decide on the type of olive oil is to determine your needs. If you are using olive oil for cooking food or using it as a topping on your meal, you will do best with extra virgin, virgin, or light olive oil versus regular olive oil.
But if you are cooking at high temperatures, such as frying your food, olive oil will not work, as it does not have a high smoke point. The higher the heat, the less flavor, which defeats the point of using higher-priced EEVO.
For frying, use a flavorless, and less expensive, oil with a high smoking point such as peanut, soy, or canola oil.
What Is a Good Quality Olive Oil?
The best type of olive oil is to go with an extra virgin. EEVO is minimally processed, so it retains more of the healthy benefits of olives. The more processed an olive oil gets, the less nutritional it becomes.
Does Olive Oil Have Side Effects?
For the most part, olive oil consumption is not known to have any side effects. However, it is possible for some people to feel nauseous after consuming olive oil.
There aren’t any results on the safety of consuming olive leaves by ingestion, so it’s best to stick with oil or fruit rather than attempt the greenery.
For most people, using olive oil on the skin is safe and a great way to resolve conditions like dry skin. However, there might be instances where a person may experience a mild allergic reaction such as itching skin or a rash.
Cooking With Olive Oil
Olive oil is a frequent staple in the spice rack, right next to the salt and pepper. Between the multiple health benefits and the delicious taste, olive oil is a common ingredient for cooking.
Is Frying With Olive Oil Bad?
Due to the low smoke point (fats break down into smoke at high temperatures), olive oil should not be used to fry your food.
The hotter the oil becomes, the more it breaks down, causing the creation of aldehydes, leading to diabetes and heart disease. But compared to other oils like sunflower or flaxseed, olive oil is better to use for frying.
However, it’s best to use canola, peanut, or soy oil if you plan to fry your food for an extended period at high temperatures.
Is Olive Oil Flammable?
Compared to other types of oil, OO is not as volatile. Olive oil has to be heated to the flashpoint of 410 degrees before it can become flammable.
Or if it gets dispersed as a fine mist over an open flame. You will have less fear of an oil fire when using olive oil compared to other oils.
Other Uses for Olive Oil
Olive oil is very diverse, and there are plenty of uses besides cooking. While using olive oil in other ways may not benefit you healthwise, it can make your life easier in different ways. Let’s look at some other common uses of olive oil.
Using Olive Oil for Massage
Olive oil is entirely safe to use on the skin for most people. It can even work as an aid for massages. OO has a sticky or greasy feel to it and a strong aroma, so most people prefer not to use it for massages.
But if it’s all you have on hand, there’s no danger. All you’ll have is a big mess and maybe a strange smell and feel to your skin.
It’s actually great for deep tissue or sports massages due to the slick, thick texture, which makes your skin slippery and easier to massage. EEVO works better than regular olive oil.
Using Olive Oil for Hair
Olive oil works wonderfully as a conditioner for your hair, especially if your mane is thick or coarse. Speaking from personal experience, using heated olive oil works as good as expensive hot oil treatments you pay for in a salon.
Using olive oil as a conditioner can result in hair with more shine, body, volume, soft feel, and healthiness. Hair heavily processed with colors, bleach, or perms can also benefit from OO conditioner. It can also help repair dead ends.
Olive oil is also an effective treatment to get rid of lice, a parasite that lives in the hair and feeds off the scalp. It can also reduce dandruff, which occurs when the scalp gets dry and starts to itch and flake.
Using Olive Oil on Nails
Olive oil can work as many beauty aids, including for your nails. Soaking your nails in warmed olive oil for 15 to 30 minutes can reduce dried cuticles and brittle nails.
You can also massage olive oil onto each cuticle and nail in small circles. Repeat this process daily for the best results. Or you can also use a clean cloth or nail buffer. This gives the nails a beautiful shine and reduces damage from chemicals like nail polish.
Using Olive Oil for Dogs – Is It Good for Them?
Olive oil is a great product to incorporate into your dog’s daily diet. Adding one to two teaspoons a day to your dog’s food may help improve your dog’s memory and brain functions and fix blood flow problems in older dogs.
In addition, olive oil can help reduce joint inflammation, such as arthritis, and it can help improve breathing for asthmatic dogs. Not to mention, the taste of olive oil encourages your dog to eat more of their dry kibble, which is excellent for dogs who aren’t eating enough food.
Olive oil has multiple health benefits, and it is versatile enough to work for a variety of uses. You can use olive oil for cooking, as part of your beauty regimen, and as a nutritional supplement for your pets. This ingredient should be a constant staple in your spice cabinet. And best of all, olive oil has a cheap purchase price, so you get multiple benefits without breaking the bank.