Numerous studies continue to show the Mediterranean diet's health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke. The nutritional benefits of the diet are likely derived from a variety of sources, but the frequent use of olive oil appears to be a significant contributor.
Olive oil, regardless of the variety, is high in monounsaturated fatty acids, accounting for around 75% by volume. Monounsaturated fats help lower your "bad" LDL cholesterol when they are substituted for saturated fat. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities of olive oil have been attributed to its health advantages. Indeed, observational studies have demonstrated a link between increased olive oil consumption and a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, certain malignancies, and even dementia in those who consume little or no olive oil.
Even so, extra-virgin olive oil provides benefits that normal olive oil does not. Extra-virgin olive oil is extracted mechanically from ripe olives and is not subjected to high temperatures or chemical solvents during the extraction process. This safeguards the oil's phenolic compounds. In comparison, conventional, highly processed olive oils are devoid of these compounds. Small laboratory investigations indicate that increasing the number of phenols may confer additional antioxidant effects. Nonetheless, there is no conclusive evidence that extra-virgin olive oil is more effective than refined olive oil at preventing heart disease, cancer, or other disorders.
Bear in mind that olive oil is not the only nutrient-dense component of the Mediterranean diet. Consider it a subset of the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes a variety of fruits, vegetables, and nuts; whole grains; and a limited intake of red meat.