Olive Oil Fats: What Type of Fats Are In Olive Oil?

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Important to note, fats are one of the 3 essential nutrients your organism needs, along with protein and carbohydrates. And good fats come mainly from a plant-based diet full of vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish, and olive oil.

Olive oil fats are healthful fats – it consists of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats are extremely important for a balanced diet and fulfills your body needs.

In this article, we look at what are types of olive oil fats, their benefits and impact on your wellbeing, and comparison with other kitchen oils.

Good Polyunsaturated Fats in Oils

The polyunsaturated fat core function is to build cell membranes and the covering of nerves. They are required for blood clotting, muscle movement, and inflammation (swelling). The polyunsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature but become solid when chilled.

The polyunsaturated fats chemical structure contains two or more double bonds in its carbon chain. In general, there are 2 main types of polyunsaturated fats that offer health benefits: omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The numbers state the distance between the beginning of the carbon chain and the first double bond.

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential cause our bodies can’t make them. Foods high in omega-6 fatty acids are processed vegetable oils, salad dressings, fried foods, grain-fed beef. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids are flaxseeds, walnuts, salmon, and tuna. Eating polyunsaturated fats in place of saturated fats or highly refined carbohydrates reduces “bad” cholesterol and improves the overall cholesterol.

Omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids have been linked to prevention and even treatment of heart disease and stroke. In addition to reducing blood pressure and lowering triglycerides, polyunsaturated fats may help protect lethal heart rhythms from rising. Science also advises they may help reduce the need for corticosteroid medications in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Research studies analysis demonstrates other omega-3 fatty acids health benefits, including reducing the risk of dementia.

extra virgin olive oil for hands

Good Monounsaturated Fats in Oils

Monounsaturated fats chemical structure contains just one carbon-carbon double bond. The result is that it has two fewer hydrogen atoms than saturated fat and a bend at the double bond. Such a structure keeps monounsaturated fats liquid at room temperature and has a lower melting point.

Good sources of monounsaturated fats are olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, avocados, and most nuts and seeds. Olive oil has approximately 76% monounsaturated fat which is a key component in the Mediterranean diet, helping to reduce significantly the risk of heart disease.

healthiest Kalamata olives uses and benefits by Oliviada
Olive oil is a pure olive juice rich in monounsaturated fats, in other words, healthy fats contributing massively to heart health

Are Monounsaturated Fats Healthy?

The discovery of the health benefits of monounsaturated fat came from the Seven Countries Study during the 1960s. It exposed that people in Greece and other parts of the Mediterranean coast enjoyed a low rate of heart disease despite a high-fat diet.

The main fat in their diet was olive oil, which contains mainly monounsaturated fat and is not the saturated animal fat common in countries with higher rates of heart disease. This finding shaped a surge of interest in olive oil, the Mediterranean lifestyle, and their diet, a style of eating considered as a healthful choice today. Monounsaturated fats are much healthier than saturated or trans fats, but it’s all about moderation.

Even though there’s no recommended daily intake of monounsaturated fats, the Institute of Medicine recommends consuming them on a regular basis along with polyunsaturated fats to replace saturated and trans fats. Don’t overconsume any fat!

For more information about olive oil fats, you can check the youtube video here.

In-between Saturated Fats in Oils

Saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature and have a high melting point. This fat is very common in the American diet where common sources of saturated fat include pork, fatty beef, cheese, eggs, whole milk, other whole-milk dairy foods,  palm and coconut oil, butter, and many commercially prepared baked goods and other foods.

The chemical structure for saturated fats is the chain of carbon atoms holds as many hydrogen atoms as possible. Where saturated means the number of hydrogen atoms surrounding each carbon atom.

Are Saturated Fats Healthy?

A diet rich in saturated fats can boost total cholesterol, and tip the balance toward more harmful “bad” cholesterol, which stimulates blockages to form in arteries in the heart and elsewhere in the body. For that reason, it is recommended to limit saturated fat to under 10% of calories a day.

Recent studies haven’t confirmed the link between saturated fat and heart disease. It was not enough evidence to conclude that saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease, but that replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat may indeed reduce the risk of heart disease.

The following other 2 major research studies narrowed the findings, concluding that replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fats like vegetable or canola oils or high-fiber carbohydrates is the best bet for reducing the risk of heart disease, but replacing saturated fat with highly processed carbohydrates could do the opposite.

Horiatiki salad
Olive oil is one of the key ingredients of the Mediterranean diet – check out Oliviada olive oil

Bad Trans Fats in Oils

Trans fat is the most unhealthy and worst type of dietary fat. There are 2 types of trans fats: natural and artificial.

Natural trans fats typically make up 2% to 5% of fat in dairy products, and 3% to 9% of fat in beef and lamb. Several studies concluded that a moderate intake of natural trans fats does not appear to be harmful. Artificial trans fat is another story. It is a consequence of a process called hydrogenation that is used to turn healthy vegetable liquid oils into solids. This process is used to increase shelf life and flavor stability. Trans fats do not have recognized health benefits and there is no safe level of consumption.

Early in the 20th century, trans fats were found mostly in solid margarine and vegetable shortening. As food makers learned new ways to use partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, trans fats were found in every product from baked cookies and pastries, frozen pizzas, some coffee creamers to fried and fast-food.

The food consumption rich in artificial trans fats increase the amount of harmful “bad” cholesterol in the blood circulation and reduces the amount of beneficial “good” cholesterol. Trans fats create inflammation (swelling), which is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.

Another harmful feature of trans fat is to contribute to insulin resistance, which raises the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Even tiny amounts of trans fats can harm health: for every 2% of calories from trans fat consumed regularly on a daily basis, the risk of heart disease growths by 23%.

Best to completely eliminate artificial trans fats from your diet and food menu. You can find artificial trans fat in the ingredient list marked as partially hydrogenated oils.

Comparison of Fats in Various Oils

By looking into fats comparison table, we see that olive oil has the most monounsaturated fats that contributes to overall health. Good thing about olive oil it has low amount of unhealthy saturated fats.

Type of Oil or FatPolyunsaturated (%)Monounsaturated (%)Saturated (%)
Coconut Oil2686
Goose Fat115627
Olive Oil107614
Rapeseed Oil (Canola Oil)28637
Sesame Oil414014
Corn Oil542712
Sunflower Oil652010
Consider healthful fats – monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats when choosing oil



Conclusion on Olive Oil Fats

Always remember to avoid trans fats, limit the saturated fats, and replace them with essential polyunsaturated & monounsaturated fats! As for fat presence, you should know that healthy fats are liquid at room temperature, not solid.

If you use good quality extra virgin olive oil which is full of monounsaturated fat, you will gain great benefits for heart health. Olive oil also contains vitamin E, vitamin K, and potent antioxidants needed for your organism and well-being. According to scientists, extra virgin olive oil has multiple health benefits, one of the main ones is associated with a lower risk of heart disease and death in those with a high risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Also, polyphenol-rich olive oil is good for keto diet, vegan, paleo, and whole30 diets. More about olive oil health benefits read in our article: Kalamata olive oil health benefits.

kalamata olive oil health benefits
Read all about olive oil health benefits

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4 thoughts on “Olive Oil Fats: What Type of Fats Are In Olive Oil?”

  1. What are the major studies you refer to that show polyunsaturated oils are healthier than saturated fatty acids?

  2. Hi Apta, there are many studies that show polyunsaturated are healthier than saturated fats, for example, studies done by American Heart Association, Harvard studies etc.

  3. It is striking that no one lists the saturated fats found in high monounsaturated fat foods like olives and avocados.
    Some saturated fats are good for you, but damned you find them listed.

  4. I appreciate your comment and understand your concern. Indeed, olives and avocados, like many foods, contain a mix of different types of fats, including monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and yes, even some saturated fats.
    Indeed, the article does discuss the presence of saturated fats in olive oil. These are crucial for balance, despite being present in smaller quantities compared to monounsaturated fats. It’s important to recognize all components of our food for a more holistic understanding of nutrition.

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