Olive Oil Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 01/03/22 •  11 min read
olive oil benefits and side effects

HEALTH

Energy: olive oil is good for / helps brain function, reduce joint pain and swelling from rheumatoid arthritis

Longevity: olive oil is good for / helps bone strengthening, combat free radicals, control blood cholesterol, detoxification, fight Alzheimer’s disease, liver health, lower blood pressure, lower inflammation, lower the risk of some cancers, protect “bad” LDL cholesterol from oxidation, lung function, prevent excessive blood clotting, prevent strokes, prevent stomach ulcers and stomach cancer, protect against heart disease, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes

Appearance: olive oil is good for / helps weight loss (when consumed in moderation)

Olive oil is…

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Teach Kids Where Our Food Comes From. Look Inside!

ENVIRONMENT

Water footprint: high, it takes 14,431 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of virgin olive oil / 1,729 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of virgin olive oil, 14,726 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of refined olive oil / 1,765 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of refined olive oil

Carbon footprint: high, 4.5 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of olive oil, a car driving equivalent of 10.25 miles or 16.5 kilometers

Destruction: high, olive oil production is relatively destructive, soil erosion, olive plantations are deserted in dry areas, soil erosion often increases later and leads to desertification, a lot of waste is produced in the process, which is is very polluting and even poisonous, waste contains phenols, poisonous for humans and animals when ingested, breathed in or when they come into contact with skin, the waste also contains phytotoxic and antimicrobial substances that kill plants or stop their growth

Olive oil is…

ANIMALS

Killed: none, olive oil production does not require any animals to be killed

Harmed: none, olive oil production does not require any animals to be used

Animals indirectly killed or harmed: wild songbirds, commercial night-time olive harvesting (mainly in Spain and Portugal) can involve vacuum techniques that kill migratory songbirds, intentional activities may involve capture, death, disturbance, retention, destruction of nests and eggs, Portugal’s night harvesting machines vacuum up some 96,000 birds each year, an initial report by the Government of Andalusia published in 2018 states approximately 2,600,000 birds could be killed due to night-harvesting techniques every year in Spain alone, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as pesticides harm and kill wildlife and ecosystems by contaminating soil, water, air and plants that animals eat

Olives oil is…

LABORERS

Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible

Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation

Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits

Olive oil…

Where is most olive oil from?

The world’s top olive oil exporting country is Spain, followed by Italy, Portugal, Tunisia, Greece, Turkey, Argentina, Germany, USA and Chile. Most of the world’s olive oil is produced in Spain, Morocco, Turkey, Greece, and Italy.

Is olive oil nutritious?

Yes! Olive oil is rich in healthy monounsaturated fats and contains large amounts of antioxidants.

olive oil is gluten free.

glutinous foods have side effects but a gluten free diet can help

Is olive oil gluten free? Yes, olive oil is gluten free. Olive oil is a naturally gluten free food.

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

olive oil is not a common food allergen.

side effects of common food allergens like milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Is olive oil a common food allergen? No, olive oil is not a common food allergen. Some people may experience allergic reactions to olive oil but it is relatively rare by comparison.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:

These foods account for about 90% of all food allergies in the United States.

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

olive oil has a high water footprint.

water footprints of food and products

Does olive oil have a high or low water footprint? Olive oil has a relatively high water footprint compared to other foods.

What is the water footprint of olive oil? It takes 14,431 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of virgin olive oil / 1,729 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of virgin olive oil.

Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource? Once it’s gone, it’s gone!

We must do what we can to conserve fresh water and a major way to reduce needless water consumption is to change the way we eat. That’s not to say we need to reduce our water intake….quite the opposite. It’s important for our health to drink lots of water and eat foods that hydrate. The kind of water conservation we’re talking about here is behind the scenes.

How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?

We need to be aware of something referred to as a “water footprint”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.

Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

olive oil has a high carbon footprint.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Does olive oil have a high or low carbon footprint? Olive oil has a relatively high carbon footprint compared to other foods.

What is the carbon footprint of olive oil? It takes around 4.5 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of olive oil, a car driving equivalent of 10.25 miles or 16.5 kilometers.

Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.

When calculating carbon emissions, some factors may include…

There are a number of steps that can be taken to reduce energy output. According to Oxford Martin School researchers, if the world went vegan, eliminating animal-derived products, it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds and avoid climate damages of $1.5 trillion.

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

olive oil is unsustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Overall, is olive oil eco friendly? Is olive oil sustainable?

Olive oil production is relatively unsustainable due to its high water footprint, high carbon footprint and other factors like erosion. Olive plantations are deserted in dry areas and soil erosion often increases later and leads to desertification. A lot of waste is produced in the process, which is is very polluting and even poisonous. Such waste contains phenols, poisonous for humans and animals when ingested, breathed in or when in contact with skin. Additionally, the waste also contains phytotoxic and antimicrobial substances that kill plants or stop their growth.

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

A 2010 United Nations report said that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world the worst impacts of climate change.

olive oil is vegan.

benefits of vegan food to eat on a vegan diet which helps save animals

Is olive oil vegan? Yes, olive oil is vegan. Olive oil is an oil made from olives, a type of fruit, and not an animal product or byproduct, therefore making it a vegan food. 

However, wild songbirds are often harmed and killed, at times even intentionally. Commercial night-time olive harvesting (mainly in Spain and Portugal) can involve vacuum techniques that kill migratory songbirds. Intentional activities may involve capture, death, disturbance, retention, destruction of nests and eggs. Portugal’s night harvesting machines vacuum up some 96,000 birds each year and an initial report by the Government of Andalusia published in 2018 states approximately 2,600,000 birds could be killed due to night-harvesting techniques every year in Spain alone.

According to Sentient Media, “more than 200 million land animals are killed for food around the world every day. Including wild-caught and farmed fishes, we get a total closer to 3 billion animals killed daily.”

Animals of factory farms and the livestock industry are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. They’re also injected with growth hormones to become fatter faster and live short lives, being slaughtered as soon as they finish growing and are killed prematurely, well before their natural lifespan.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non Vegan Foods List

olive oil is a product that may or may not have labor issues.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is olive oil a product with labor concerns?

At this time there are no major concerns with olive oil production but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening!

It’s important to stay aware of human rights concerns and worker exploitation that may come with specific brands.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Sadly, many labor concerns exist around the world in both developed and developing countries. We must be vigilant to ensure what we buy is not contributing to industries that are unfair to their valuable workers. Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even experience harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade. 

Sources:

Oil, olive, salad or cooking – FoodData Central – USDA

Olive Oil and Olive-Pomace Oil Grades and Standards

The green vegans, Why olive oil is bad for the environment

Adriane Marie

As an educator, author and conscious consumer advocate, I study and organize ethical info for you to quickly see how our purchases impact animals, people and the planet. I hope you find this HEALabel knowledge useful and can apply it to your life for personal and societal improvement and empowerment.