Regardless of the type or grade, olive oil contains 120 calories per tablespoon. In fact, all edible food oils contain about 120 calories per tablespoon. When used for cooking, the healthy aspects of olive oil do not change as the oil is heated.
Olive oil is good source of the antioxidant, vitamin E. It contains 1.6 mg. of vitamin E per tablespoon, which is 8% of the recommended daily allowance.
Olive oil has been linked to the following health benefits:
Lowering the risk of heart disease
Reduction in the level of LDL (bad) cholesterol
Lowering of blood pressure
Decrease in blood sugar levels
Increase in the absorption of several vitamins including A, D, E, and K
Stimulation of the gall bladder to secrete bile, which helps to prevent gallstones
Promotes cellular growth, speeds healing, and helps the metabolism
Olive oil is also beneficial for the skin and hair. Overly dry skin or sun damaged skin can be soothed with the application of olive oil. Some people apply olive oil to the skin to prevent wrinkles, although there is no scientific evidence to support this. Olive oil promotes shiny and full-bodied hair and a healthy scalp.
Some scientific studies have indicated that olive oil may reduce some of the effects of aging. It helps with digestion and the absorption of nutrients, which tends to slow as people age. It helps to maintain healthy bones and prevents calcium loss. The natural antioxidants in olive oil may even help to maintain mental faculties for a longer period.
In spite of the health benefits of olive oil, it should not be overused, because like all other edible oils, it is a high source of calories. One tablespoon of olive oil contains about 120 calories, but because it is so flavorful, a little can go a long way when used as a cooking oil, a salad dressing, or condiment.