I have a vested interest in learning which brands are the healthiest olive oils for longevity.
That’s because I do shots of olive oil every morning.
Sometimes I season it with some dried parsley which, as noted by Nils Osmar who leads one of my favorite longevity Facebook groups, is high in apigenin, a CD38 inhibitor that may help increase cellular repair activities.
But mostly I just chug it straight from the bottle, like a barbarian.
I certainly didn’t follow such a strange practice before starting this longevity website and, in fact, didn’t seriously consider the healthy benefits of olive oil until I did my research on the Mediterranean diet for longevity.
In reading all the studies for that article, I kept coming across evidence that olive oil was good for you. In fact, that evidence was so convincing to me, that I almost immediately changed my daily habits to make sure I was including a high quality olive oil in my diet.
But what exactly constitutes a “high quality olive oil?” Are some olive oil brands better than others? And how, when facing rank-on-rank of dark green bottles on the supermarket shelf can you possibly select the best olive oil for health and longevity?
My original criteria was basically, “something that looks like a top-rated olive oil and isn’t the cheapest on the shelf,” but for a food I ingest daily, it’s clear that’s not good enough.
So I decided to invest the time to actually figure out what makes the best olive oil to drink daily for longevity.
And, lucky for you, I’ve documented all my findings in this olive oil comparison article.
And if you don’t want to read through all the science mumbo-jumbo I get into below, here’s the list of top olive oil brands I settled on, right at the top:
|California Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil by Life Extension
|$22.28 ($1.32 / Fl Oz)
|California Olive Ranch 100% California Extra Virgin Olive Oil
|$29.43 ($0.87 / Fl Oz)
|Kirkland Signature Extra Virgin Olive Oil California
|$28.89 ($0.85 / Fl Oz)
|Lucini Premium Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil
|$27.19 ($1.07 / Fl Oz)
|Nutrition for Longevity Organic Polyphenol Rich Olive Oil
|$22.50 ($2.65 / Fl Oz)
Affiliate Disclaimer: Longevity Advice is reader-supported. When you buy something using links on our site, we may earn a few bucks.
Table of Contents
Is olive oil healthy? The science
There have been a lot of studies of olive oil, but very few touch on longevity specifically. Those that do tend to be observational population studies, which, due to the difficulty of disentangling thousands of variables, can only ever show correlation, not causation. This is why we at Longevity Advice prefer evidence from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) when at all possible.
While generally higher quality, many of the RCTs looking into the healthy benefits of olive oil examine individual ingredients and compounds present in olive oil, rather than olive oil as a whole. While this makes study design more targeted, it could mean the positive findings won’t replicate when consuming olive oil vs. consuming just those distilled compounds by themselves.
That said, there are plenty of positive findings to go around, both from in vitro (tests on living cells) and in vivo (tests on full, living organisms) studies.
The same polyphenol was studied in mice in a 2023 trial which suggested it “protected cells from oxidative stress.”
Oleic acid, another compound present in olive oil (and avocados/avocado oil) also seems to have tons of beneficial health effects (at least in animal models).
A 2021 study in mated roundworms found oleic acid supplementation completely restored the ~30% lifespan reduction usually caused by mating.
A 2022 study in fungi found oleic acid increased the average lifespan of the wild strain from around 24 days to over 30 days.
It also appeared to improve the ability to recover from liver injury for mice, according to a 2019 study. It did this by inhibiting mTOR, the body’s growth pathway, which can’t be active at the same time our repair pathway is, making it a candidate in the damage accumulation theory for why we age in the first place.
In fact, longevity influencer David Sinclair even claimed oleic acid may be 100 times more potent at activating Sirt1, a key cellular repair enzyme, than longevity supplement resveratrol, based on a 2020 study.
That study also suggested pairing olive oil consumption with fasting might be the best way to gain its health benefits.
But of course, people aren’t roundworms, mice, or even fungi (though some politicians might qualify…), so let’s look at human studies of olive oil and life extension.
A 2022 observational study on adults in the U.S. found that higher olive oil consumption was associated with, “19% lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality…, 17% lower risk of cancer mortality…, 29% lower risk of neurodegenerative disease mortality…, and 18% lower risk of respiratory disease mortality.”
Also, “replacing 10 g/d of margarine, butter, mayonnaise, and dairy fat with the equivalent amount of olive oil was associated with 8%-34% lower risk of total and cause-specific mortality.”
Another 2022 observational study on olive oil consumption by Spanish adults found that:
“[T]he consumption of up to one tablespoon [of olive oil] per day was associated with a 9% lower risk of all-cause mortality…and the consumption of 2 or more tablespoons with a 31% lower risk of all-cause mortality…. The consumption of 2 or more tablespoons per day was also associated with lower risk of mortality for CVD [cardiovascular disease].”
Two different studies, one from 2020 and one from 2021 suggest that extra virgin olive oil high in polyphenols (those beneficial compounds like oleic acid and hydroxytyrosol) may help lower blood pressure, and improve blood vessel function, especially when compared to regular, non-extra virgin olive oil.
This finding seems to be echoed by a 2019 meta-analysis of 26 different studies that found, “Compared to low polyphenol olive oil, high polyphenol olive oil significantly improved measures of malondialdehyde…, oxidized LDL…, total cholesterol…and HDL cholesterol.”
A 2022 study suggested extra virgin olive oil can improve the blood-brain barrier and “significantly improved clinical dementia rating (CDR) and behavioral scores.”
A 2019 analysis of two different groups of Greek adults concluded, “[T]he exclusive consumption of olive oil, as opposed to either combined or no olive oil consumption, beneficially impacts successful aging, particularly among individuals over 70 years of age.”
Of course, because nutrition is complex, there are a couple wrinkles in the health benefits of olive oil.
The first wrinkle is that olive oil seems to be naturally high in compounds called “advanced glycation end products,” or AGEs.
AGEs are also naturally found in sugar, and in food (especially meat) cooked at high temperature. Unfortunately, AGE’s are linked to all kinds of health issues including premature aging, cardiovascular disease, and even Alzheimers.
That said, there are some reasons I personally don’t believe this is a big deal.
- First, all the above studies on olive oil for health still found positive impacts despite any AGEs present. This may mean the beneficial effect of olive oil polyphenols is enough to outweigh any negatives from AGEs.
- Second, a calorically dense fat like olive oil is not going to be consumed in the same amounts as other high-AGE foods, like grilled meat, so you may be unlikely to get damaging amounts of AGEs from the relatively smaller amounts of olive oil you consume.
- Third, there are some promising methods for mitigating the harmful effects of AGEs. These include supplementing with glycine and eating foods high in choline, such as egg yolks, which the body uses to synthesize its own glycine.
The second wrinkle is that a lot of the health benefits of olive oil may be the result of other elements in a healthy diet, such as nuts or fibrous vegetables. For instance, while a 2007 study found olive oil was just as bad for vascular function as soybean and palm oils, in a 2006 study walnuts appeared to outperform olive oil in terms of maintaining vascular flow after a high fat meal.
The final wrinkle is that olive leaves may have a higher content of healthy polyphenols than olive oil itself. In that case, you may be able to get more health benefits from olive leaf extract than from olive oil. However there hasn’t been as much research into the health effects of olive leaf extract compared to olive oil (though there has been some, and it’s generally positive), so keep that in mind.
Should you cook with olive oil?
A lot of people seem to think that olive oil, because of its relatively low smoke point (the temperature at which the oil starts to smoke) compared to other oils, should not be used in high temperature cooking such as frying or baking.
However, I found a pretty compelling study from 2018 that challenged this conventional wisdom by actually chemically analyzing different oils as they were subjected to high temperatures for extended periods of time.
The study suggested that olive oil released fewer byproducts of degradation like free fatty acids and polar compounds than any other oil, including avocado and coconut oil (although the latter two still beat out seed oils like canola, sunflower, and grapeseed).
A 2012 study comparing olive oil and avocado oil seemed to generally agree, finding that, “under a drastic heating treatment…[t]he stability of avocado oil was similar to that of olive oil.”
How to find high quality olive oil
Unfortunately, not everything labeled “olive oil” at your local grocery store actually is what it claims to be.
In fact, according to Tom Mueller, investigative journalist and author of Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, as much as 80% of the olive oil available in the U.S. does not legally qualify as extra virgin olive oil.
In 2015 the National Consumers League chemically tested 11 different olive oil brands and found that only five of them met the “extra virgin olive oil standards as set by the International Olive Council (IOC).”
Most of the United States has no labeling requirement for what constitutes extra virgin olive oil, and olive oil producers may mislabel refined olive oil (which undergoes more chemical and heat processes than extra virgin) as extra virgin.
Given that extra virgin olive oil has a higher polyphenol content and, per the previously linked 2019 meta-analysis, is thus more likely to confer health benefits, how can you determine which brands have the purest olive oil?
There are a few things to be on the lookout for when evaluating the best extra virgin olive oil brands.
Within the U.S., only California has passed an olive oil labeling law requiring manufacturers within the state to accurately label how much of their oil is actually from California olives. This suggests (and some testing confirms) that olive oil from California may be higher quality.
However, olive oils start to degrade immediately upon harvest, even before being bottled. This is why you should look, not for a “best by” or “bottling” date, but for a “harvest date” on any bottle of olive oil you pick up. Look for a date that is less than 18 months ago (and ideally less than a year ago).
In fact, according to one 2005 study of olive oils in clear packaging, “after only 2 months of exposure to light the oils examined could no longer be considered as extra virgin.”
This means you ideally want olive oil packaged in a non-reactive material, that doesn’t let light in, and that is stored in cool conditions.
According to research from UC Davis’s Olive Center, the materials that best meet these requirements are:
- Dark glass
- Stainless steel
- Coated paperboard
Try not to buy olive oil in plastic containers, even if they are dark, as plastic is more porous than glass and can let oxygen in. Additionally, aluminum may not be great as, if not coated with food-grade enamel, “toxic aluminum ions” can migrate into the oil and worsen the oil quality.
Awards and certifications
While the U.S. has no country-wide regulation on olive oil quality, plenty of private and nonprofit organizations have stepped in to evaluate, rank, and certify olive oils.
Olive oil bottles displaying certificates from any of the following organizations are likely of high quality:
- International Olive Council
- North American Olive Oil Association
- California Olive Oil Council
- Applied Sensory Panel
Additionally, certain olive oil contests give awards for health indicators like polyphenol content, and so a bottle with one of these awards may be of higher quality. An example is the London International Health Olive Oil Competition which tests polyphenol content in extra virgin olive oils.
If you’re interested in ordering internationally, the “World’s Best Olive Oils (WBOO)” website aggregates the results of “the currently 8 strictest international extra virgin olive oil competitions” and ranks the winners to determine what they consider the top extra virgin olive oils in the world.
All the above considerations informed my criteria for selecting the best olive oil brands for health below.
Healthiest olive oils for longevity
There are tons of healthy olive oil brands out there, including lots of great small producers both in the U.S. and internationally. In order to narrow down the options for this olive oil comparison I used the following criteria to select my list of the top healthiest olive oils for longevity:
- Commonly available in the United States without requiring a special order or import.
- Sold in a dark glass or stainless steel container.
- Lists harvest date on the bottle.
- Has a seal or certificate from a third party that uses laboratory testing of chemical makeup.
The below top healthy olive oils are ordered alphabetically by brand name.
Price: $22.28 ($1.32 / Fl Oz)
We’ve covered Life Extension’s vast array of longevity-focused products before, most notably their a la carte blood test options, but they also offer a dizzying amount of supplements, foods, and even skin creams. So it’s no surprise they’ve gotten into the healthy olive oil game.
Their California-harvested oil is provided in a dark glass bottle, and has been tested by the company as containing 600 mg/kg of healthy olive oil polyphenols, and is composed of 73.5% oleic acid. To confirm this, a ConsumerLabs study found Life Extension’s olive oil has 400mg of polyphenols per kg, which is above the usual values of 100-300 mg/kg.
According to the company: “The growers/producers of our olive oil are members of the Olive Oil Commission of California (OOCC). The OOCC operates with oversight from the California Department of Food and Agriculture and requires mandatory government sampling and testing of all California olive oils.”
Price: $29.43 ($0.87 / Fl Oz)
Available in most major supermarket chains in the U.S. (including giants like Safeway and Kroger), California Olive Ranch is a remarkably accessible healthy olive oil brand. With an extra virgin certification by the Applied Sensory Panel, which requires 3rd party lab testing, plus the stringent regulations for being 100% California sourced, this is almost certainly a high quality olive oil.
Be sure to buy the version sold in glass containers, instead of the plastic variations, to ensure product quality. Also, note that California Olive Ranch does sell global blends of olives from places like Argentina and Portugal. While these products are likely just as healthy as their 100% California olives product, they don’t have the same requirements or testing procedures from the government of California.
As a side note, this is the brand I personally have been using for the last few years, and I find it fairly mild and pleasant (though this could be an indicator of lower phenolic content).
Price: $28.89 ($0.85 / Fl Oz)
Costco’s in-house Kirkland Signature brand is a surprising source of quality goods. In fact, I own a Kirkland brand windbreaker I got for $17 that’s lasted me almost a decade. For a company predicated on low-cost, wholesale goods, one wouldn’t expect one of the healthiest olive oils for longevity to be in Costco’s stable. But here we are.
Kirkland Signature’s extra virgin olive oil is consistently rated by 3rd party tests from organizations like Consumer Reports and ConsumerLab as among the best olive oils for health. A 2017 review found Kirkland’s olive oil had 369 mg/kg of polyphenols (the highest of those tested, and above the usual range of 100-300).
While the cheapest version of this olive oil comes in large plastic containers, I personally would opt for the California version that comes in a dark glass bottle, and is certified by the California Olive Oil Council as extra virgin.
Price: $27.19 ($1.07 / Fl Oz)
Another olive oil brand that is available in most grocery stores in the U.S., Lucini is an Italian extra virgin olive oil. Its Premium Select product is a bit pricier than some of the other options on this list, but has also placed highly in olive oil comparisons from third party testers like Consumer Reports and ConsumerLab.
Certified extra virgin by the Applied Sensory Panel, which requires 3rd party lab testing, and provided in a dark glass bottle, Lucini is a good option if you’d like to add a little more international flavor to your daily olive oil drinking.
Price: $22.50 ($2.65 / Fl Oz)
The most expensive olive oil on this list is produced in Sardinia, Italy and certified by the Italian Suolo e Salute inspection organization. Nutrition for Longevity is primarily a meal delivery company, and founded by longevity scientist Valter Longo.
Professor Longo is best known for his research into the life-extension effects of fasting, particularly what he calls a “fasting-mimicking diet” (he’s even written a longevity book on it). So it’s not surprising that olive oil which, as we saw above, may mimic fasting by inhibiting mTOR, is a product he’d be interested in selling.
It’s noteworthy as well that the olive oil he sells is harvested from Sardinia. The Italian island is one of the world’s recognized Blue Zones: areas that have the highest rates of centenarians globally. Perhaps something in the diet from that region can help you live to 110 years old?
Bonus: Top avocado oils for health (HT: Nils Osmar)
Avocado oil has many of the same benefits of olive oil, also being high in polyphenols like oleic acid. While avocado oil hasn’t been studied as much as olive oil, and has some other drawbacks (fewer polyphenols, often fake, rancid, or adulterated) it does have a higher smoke point and so may be better to cook with (though, see also this 2018 study suggesting olive oil produced the fewest toxic chemicals when heated, even with its lower smoke point).
According to a 2020 UC Davis study of 22 different avocado oils:
“Only two brands produced samples that were pure and non-oxidized. Those were Chosen Foods and Marianne’s Avocado Oil, both refined avocado oils made in Mexico. Among the virgin grades, CalPure produced in California was pure and fresher than the other samples in the same grade.”
- CalPure California Extra Virgin Avocado Oil
- Chosen Foods 100% Pure Avocado Oil
- Marianne’s Harvest Brands Non-GMO Avocado Oil
How are you consuming olive oil to live longer?
So after reading this article do you chug olive straight from the bottle now, like me?
Or are you a little more sophisticated about it?
Regardless, be sure to learn about the longevity diets that use olive oil the most in our research deep dives below!
I’m the co-founder of Longevity Advice and have been passionate about radical life extension ever since I was a teenager. Formerly I was a content marketing director in the B2B software space. I’m also a sci-fi novelist, wargame rules writer, and enthusiast for cooking things in bacon fat. My sister once called me “King of the Nerds” and it’s a title I’ve been trying to live up to ever since.