Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know on Olive Oil

Text by Dr. Nina Radcliff/Feature Photo by Kimberly Cecchini

I’m Popeye the Sailor Man,

I’m Popeye the Sailor Man.

I’m strong to the finich

Cause I eats me spinach.

I’m Popeye the Sailor Man.

Spinach has been made famous by the rough-around-the-edges Sailor Man. So much so, that we often forget about his counterpart “Olive Oyl.” Let’s take a moment to shine the spotlight back on olives. After all, behind every strong man, there is a great woman.

First of all, did you know that olives are fruit from the olive tree? I guess that makes logical sense because they have a pit. And if the olives are pressed, olive oil is the fat that can be obtained. But wait! We are always told to cut back on fats and oils. However, olive oil is “cut from a different fabric.” It is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) which are considered a healthy dietary fat, compared to saturated fats and trans fats.

Here is Dr. Nina’s What You Need To Know on the health benefits of olive oil:


In addition to being the second leading cause of death in Americans, stroke can be devastating in those who survive it. Consider trading in other oils for olive oil to decrease this. One study showed that older people who regularly used olive oil for cooking and salad dressing experienced a 41% lower risk of stroke compared with their counterparts who never consumed it.

Bad Cholesterol 

Olive oil has an “overwhelmingly beneficial influence on the lipoprotein spectrum.” In other words it has been shown to decrease LDL (low density lipoprotein) or “bad” cholesterol levels and increase HDL (high density lipoprotein) or “good” cholesterol. Too much “bad” cholesterol in your blood results in the build up of plaques inside your arteries and veins. Plaques narrow these blood vessels and decrease blood flow to your heart, brain, and kidneys. Because blood carries oxygen which is necessary for the proper function of our organs, blockages can be detrimental. They can lead to heart attacks and strokes.


Oleocanthal is a compound found in extra-virgin olive oil. Studies have shown that it helps remove the abnormal Alzheimer’s disease proteins out of the brain (known as beta-amyloid). Take home note: although oleocanthal is difficult to pronounce and spell, remember that olive oil contains a compound that may decrease your risk of dementia.

Blood Pressure

Regular consumption of olive oil has been shown to help decrease both the systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Elevated blood pressures increase your risk for stroke, heart attacks, kidney disease, and premature death. So drizzle, sauté, and dip your food with, and into, olive oil.


Diets rich in olive oil, low in saturated fats, moderately rich in carbohydrates and soluble fiber from fruit, vegetables, and grains are the most effective approach for diabetics. It helps improve blood sugar control and enhances insulin sensitivity.


Although high in calories, olive oil has been shown to help reduce levels of obesity. Studies have shown that even the smell or “aroma” of olive oil can create a sense of fullness that results in fewer calories consumed. Talk about a fun appetite suppressant!


Olive oil is rich in antioxidants, especially vitamin E, long thought to minimize cancer risk. Among plant oils, olive oil is the highest in monounsaturated fat, which does not oxidize in the body, and is low in polyunsaturated fat, the kind that does oxidize.

The consumption of olives and olive oil dates as far back as 4000 B.C. That’s 6000 years ago! This is another example of age-old wisdom where every generation discovers afresh that there’s not much about the human condition the ancients didn’t know. In the era of healthcare cost-containment, this is a relatively inexpensive way to help prevent a number of ailments. Imagine being able to avoid opening the medicine cabinet by turning to our kitchen cabinet and Olive Oyl saying “I yam what I yam.” And that’s tasty and healthy. Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm.


 Dr. Nina Radcliff is a syndicated medical columnist who also appears on the Fox News Channel and The Dr. Oz Show.

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Notice: This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither Dr. Nina Radcliff or Kimberly Cecchini take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

Before engaging in any complementary medical technique, including the use of natural or herbal remedies, you should be aware that many of these techniques have not been evaluated in scientific studies. Use of these remedies in connection with over the counter or prescription medications can cause severe adverse reactions. Often, only limited information is available about their safety and effectiveness.