The ‘How Much’ & ‘How To’ guide to EVOO

The ‘How Much’ & ‘How To’ guide to EVOO

The ‘How Much’ & ‘How To’ guide to EVOO

Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is a unique source of dietary fat, consisting mainly of monounsaturated fatty acids and bioactive compounds. While oleic acid, the main fatty acid in olive oil, is considered to offer a host of beneficial effects such as lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, other bioactive compounds such as polyphenols enhance the health-promoting effects offered by olive oil.1 This specific profile of EVOO is what leads to the health benefits associated with it.

EVOO should be included as a food in your daily eating pattern and not as a medicine! It is important to keep in mind that the beneficial effects of the Mediterranean eating pattern are not attributed to a single food or nutrient. Rather, it is how all the key foods, and nutrients of these foods, work together to bring about the plethora of health benefits associated with this eating pattern.2 This is due to a synergistic effect between foods. For example, olive oil assists with absorbing fat-soluble vitamins found in colourful fruits and vegetables. EVOO also increases the palatability and appeal of vegetables and legumes (key elements of the Mediterranean Diet), encouraging their consumption.

How much

Evidence from a number of clinical trials indicates that we should aim to consume at least 25 ml (approximately 2 tablespoons) of EVOO per day, to obtain the health benefits associated with it, in healthy populations and those with risk factors such as mild dyslipidemia and mild hypertension.3  

In terms of following a therapeutic Mediterranean eating pattern, there doesn’t seem to be a clear definition of how much EVOO should be included.4 However, the PREDIMED (Prevention with Mediterranean Diet) trial implemented a minimum quantity of 60 ml (4 tablespoons) of EVOO a day. This study was a primary prevention trial, which evaluated the effects of the Mediterranean Diet on incident cardiovascular disease in men and women at high risk.5 Furthermore, a different study, the AUSMED (Australian Mediterranean Diet) Heart Trial implemented 60 – 80 ml (4 – 5 tablespoons) of EVOO a day.6 

Based on the reduction in risk seen in these and other trials, it is recommended that a minimum of 3 – 4 tablespoons of EVOO should be consumed per day for pre-existing health conditions including Coronary Heart Disease, Type 2 Diabetes, and Fatty Liver Disease.7 

Due to the substantial evidence supporting the health effects of the polyphenols found in EVOO, the European Food Safety Authority has approved the claim that polyphenols offer protection against peroxidation of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol at a minimal dose of 5 mg/kg/day,8 which is the equivalent of X g or X ml of Liviana EVOO.

How to

Contrary to popular belief, olive oil can be used for cooking. That being said, to optimize the intake of beneficial phenolic compounds, you should mainly aim to include ‘raw’ (uncooked) EVOO in your eating pattern.

Here are some tips on how to include EVOO in your daily eating pattern:

  • Keep a bottle of EVOO at work to dress salads
  • Make delicious homemade vinaigrettes
  • Drizzle it over grain dishes or soups as a finishing oil
  • Toss veggies in EVOO before roasting them
  • Drizzle it over roasted veggies after cooking
  • Replace the mayo with EVOO for tuna and chicken salads
  • Deconstruct a normal sandwich and use the oil to dress the salad and for dipping the bread
  • Drizzle it over toast instead of butter
  • Sauté veggies and meat in it
  • Replace vegetable oil or butter with olive oil when baking (see the below conversion chart)
  • Use it to grease the pan for baked goods instead of butter or margarine
Butter or MargarineOlive Oil
1 teaspoon¾ teaspoon
1 tablespoon2 ¼ teaspoons
2 tablespoons1 ½ tablespoons
¼ cup3 tablespoons
⅓ cup¼ cup
½ cup¼ cup + 2 tablespoons
⅔ cup½ cup
¾ cup½ cup + 1 tablespoon
1 cup¾ cup


  1. Yubero-Serrano EM, Lopez-Moreno J, Gomez-Delgado F, Lopez-Miranda J. 2019. Extra virgin olive oil: More than a healthy fat. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 72(Suppl 1):8-17.
  2. Dinu M, Pagliai G, Casini A & Sofi F. 2017. Mediterranean diet and multiple health outcomes: an umbrella review of meta-analyses of observational studies and randomised trials. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2017.58
  3. George, ES, Marshall, S, Mayr, H, Trakman G, et al. 2018. The effect of high-polyphenol extra virgin olive oil on cardiovascular risk factors: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 59(17):2772-2795. 
  4. Davis C, Bryan J, Hodgson & Murphy K. 2015. Definition of the Mediterranean diet: A literature review. Nutrients, 7, 9139-9153. doi:10.3390/nu7115459
  5. Martínez-González MA, Salas-Salvadó J, Estruch R, Corella D, Fitó M & Ros E. 2015. Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet: Insights from the PREDIMED study. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, 58:50-60.
  6. Itsiopoulos C, Kucianski T, Mayr HL, van Gaal WJ, et al. 2018. The AUStralian MEDiterranean Diet Heart Trial (AUSMED Heart Trial): A randomized clinical trial in secondary prevention of coronary heart disease in a multiethnic Australian population: Study protocol. American Heart Journal, 203, 4-11.
  7. George ES, Kucianski T, Mayr HL, Moschonis G, et al. 2018. A Mediterranean Diet model in Australia: Strategies for translating the traditional Mediterranean Diet into a multicultural setting. Nutrients, 10:465. doi:10.3390/nu10040465
  8. EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA). 2011. Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to polyphenols in olive and protection of LDL particles from oxidative damage (ID 1333, 1638, 1639, 1696, 2865), maintenance of normal blood HDL-cholesterol concentrations (ID 1639), maintenance of normal blood pressure (ID 3781), “anti-inflammatory properties” (ID 1882), “contributes to the upper respiratory tract health” (ID 3468), “can help to maintain a normal function of gastrointestinal tract” (3779), and “contributes to body defences against external agents” (ID 3467) pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. EFSA Journal, 9(4):2033 [25 pp.]. doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2011.2033. Available online:

Nicola Royce
Registered Dietitian, Postgrad. Dipl. Diabetes

Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Giving the gift of ‘forget-me-nots’

Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Giving the gift of ‘forget-me-nots’

Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Giving the gift of ‘forget-me-nots’

For the summary & take-home message CLICK HERE

A number of studies have considered the effect of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) on memory function in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in mice and now, for the first time, a study has been conducted that reviews the direct impact on the brain in humans. A recently published study has illustrated the effects of EVOO on the brain confirming that it improves the functioning of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and enhances brain connectivity.

Multiple studies have suggested that following a Mediterranean eating pattern improves cognitive functioning and slows the progression of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). It is no coincidence that one of the main elements of the Mediterranean eating pattern is olive oil. EVOO is a high-quality oil, rich in monounsaturated fatty acids and phenolic compounds. The phenolic compounds have an antioxidant function and protect cells against oxidative damage, providing many health benefits.

Substantial evidence has shown that the development of AD involves a dysfunctional BBB. Aging and the presence of vascular conditions, including high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular diseases, can adversely impact the structure and functioning of the BBB. First time hearing about the BBB? Take a look at this video, which briefly explains what the BBB is and how it functions. 

The endothelial cells of the BBB strictly control what enters the brain from the bloodstream, and any changes in the functioning of the BBB may allow toxic molecules to enter the brain and impair the expulsion of new or existing toxic molecules. This could lead to oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, disturbances of the functional brain network, and the impairment of blood flow to the brain, which could lead to MCI. MCI could advance to AD and related dementias. Thus, ensuring the integrity of the BBB is an important therapeutic target for the prevention, or delay, in the onset of AD and other dementias. 

The study aimed to assess the effect of EVOO on people with MCI and provide a comparison against the effect of refined olive oil (ROO), which didn’t contain any phenolic compounds. The effect of olive oil intake on BBB function, as well as the effect on brain function was evaluated. Additionally, cognitive function changes and AD blood markers were assessed. Twenty-six men and women with MCI, aged between 55 – 75 years, were randomized to receive either 30 ml of EVOO or 30 ml of ROO daily (raw, not cooked) for 6 months.

The findings of this study demonstrated that the daily consumption of EVOO over 6 months may well enhance the functional connectivity of the brain and reduce BBB permeability. On the other hand, ROO did not alter the permeability of the BBB or brain connectivity, however, it did offer improvements in the clinical dementia rating scores and increased functional brain activation to a memory task. Interestingly, both oils reduced Aβ42/Aβ40 and p-tau/t-tau ratios, which are associated with an increased risk of MCI and AD. Somewhat surprisingly, both olive oils were found to offer benefits for the brain and may assist in the prevention of the onset of AD, illustrating the role of the monounsaturated fats they contain (e.g., oleic acid) on brain health. The differing effects of EVOO and ROO can be attributed to the presence, and role, of the phenolic compounds found in EVOO.

As with all studies, the results need to be interpreted together with the limitations of the study. The sample size was small and there was an absence of control groups for comparative purposes, such as participants who did not receive olive oil or those with normal cognitive functioning of the same age as the participants receiving the intervention. The treatment time was also relatively short, and studies held over a longer duration are needed to assess the effect of long-term ingestion of olive oil on the brain and its impact on cognitive function. This may offer an opportunity to better differentiate between the effects of EVOO and ROO. That being said, this was a pilot study and offers valuable information to pave the way for future research.

For more information on the study, refer to the reference below.

So, what message can we take home from this study?

Both EVOO and ROO offer benefits for the brain due to the type of fat found in these oils, however only EVOO appears to enhance brain connectivity and improve the functioning of the BBB, illustrating the important role of phenolic compounds in EVOO. Based on the study, at least 30 ml of raw, uncooked EVOO is needed daily to provide the aforementioned benefits in people over 55 years of age with MCI. However, people of any age and cognitive function should be encouraged to include EVOO in their regular eating patterns to protect them against MCI and in an attempt to delay the onset of MCI.

It is important to note that not all olive oil is created equal!

Make sure that you select locally sourced EVOO, and check the date of processing, to ensure that it is fresh and of good quality, which should mean that it is full of phenolic compounds. Ideally, you should consume EVOO as close to its date of production as possible to get the most out of it. Imported EVOO faces long travel time, which could impact the quality by the time it gets to you.

Liviana™  Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Nestled in a beautiful valley on the slopes of the Stellenbosch Mountains lies our olive grove where we delicately handpick our organic olives in small batches. Each assemblage is carefully crafted with our unique cold extraction method and gently infused with just the right amount of the purest premium, organic CBD from the United States of America. At Liviana™ we are committed to exceptional quality, guaranteeing only the finest organic extra virgin olive oil – read more here.

You can purchase Liviana here


Kaddoumi, A, Denney, TS, Jr, Deshpande, G, Robinson, JL, Beyers, RJ, Redden, DT, Praticò, D, Kyriakides, TC, Lu, B, Kirby, AN, et al. 2022. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Enhances the Blood–Brain Barrier Function in Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients, 14(5102) https://

Nicola Royce
Registered Dietitian, Postgrad. Dipl. Diabetes