Can Extra Virgin Olive Oil Lift Your Mood?

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Evidence shows that Extra Virgin Olive Oil can decrease risk of depression.

Updated 3rd March 2023

Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Mental Health
Extra Virgin Olive Oil Lift Your Mood

Image Credit: Total Shape


  • Did you know extra virgin olive oil isn’t just good for physical health? A growing body of evidence indicates that extra virgin olive oil may offer mental health benefits, with a decrease in risk of depression.
  • Thanks to its components such as monounsaturated fatty acids, extra-virgin olive oil has been found to reduce the risk of depression, anxiety, and even stress.
  • Extra virgin olive oil has also been known to help promote better sleep habits and protect against cognitive decline. This makes extra virgin olive oil one of the best dietary sources to lift your mood.
  • In its most natural form, extra virgin olive oil is cold-pressed and unprocessed making it rich in polyphenols which are known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
  • It does however need to be the best olive oil, like Morocco Gold extra virgin olive oil in order to obtain the physical health benefits, also your mental health benefits.


Extra Virgin Olive Oil Can Contribute To Reduced Levels Of Anxiety

New research linking weight gain during lockdown with increased levels of anxiety may lead to greater dietary interventions in any future pandemics.

According to a new study from Israel proven associations between diet quality and anxiety may result in a preventative dietary policy, particularly relevant given the increased risk of adverse COVID-19 outcomes associated with obesity.

The study concluded: “These findings suggest the need for routine and continuous surveillance of the nutritional and psychological consequences of outbreaks as part of healthcare preparedness efforts. Primary care physicians should refer people with high anxiety or substantial weight gain during the pandemic to appropriate mental health and dietetic treatment, as needed.”

Mediterranean Diets, consisting of fruit, vegetables, fish and extra virgin olive oil, have long been associated with boosting mental health.  The well documented 2017 SMILES trial showed that following a modified Mediterranean diet for three months had reduced their depressive symptoms.

“It was the first clinical trial to say: ‘If we take people who have moderate to severe clinical depression and we help them to improve their diet, will that improve their depression?’  And we found that it did,”, explained Professor Felice Jacka, director of the Food and Mood Centre at Deakin University and author of the study.

As we emerge cautiously from the dark days of lockdown, now may be the time to look for mood boosting superfoods such as Extra Virgin Olive Oil to lift the spirits.

When incorporated into a varied healthy diet, including plenty of fruit, vegetables and oily fish, extra virgin olive oil has been shown to contribute to decreasing the risk of depression.

Study Of Impact Of Diet Rich In Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Good Mood Food
Good Mood Food

According to a study from the University of Navarra and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, diet rich in extra virgin olive oil can help to protect from mental illness. 

The study included 12,059 volunteers and explored the dietary determinants of stroke, coronary disease and other disorders. The research was conducted over a period of 6 years, during which time the researchers gathered data on lifestyle factors including diet and medical history.

The results revealed that volunteers with a high intake of trans fats had up to 48 percent increased risk of depression compared to those who did not consumer those fats. In addition, the researchers also discovered that a higher intake of olive oil and polyunsaturated fats was associated with a lower risk of depression.

This is one of a wealth of studies showing how extra virgin olive oil and the Mediterranean diet are associated with lower rates of depression.

Dr Drew Ramsey Talks About Benefits To Brain From Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Dr Drew Ramsay & Olive Oil Superfood
Dr Drew Ramsay & Olive Oil Superfood

In April 2018, Dr Drew Ramsey, M.D., clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University revealed how extra virgin olive oil impacts the brain and your overall health. Dr Ramsey listed the following key benefits of olive oil as part of a Mediterranean style diet:

  • Olive oil is full of healthy fats
  • Olive oil is rich in phytonutirents and antioxidants such as phenols, flavonoids, anthocyanidins
  • Olive oil decreases risk for depression
  • Olive oil decreases risk for dementia

In 2009, Spanish researchers once again discovered that individuals who followed a Mediterranean style diet rich in olive oil, vegetables, beans and fruit were 30 percent less likely to suffer from depression.

An Australian study, named the ‘SMILES’ trial compared participants who took part in social support groups versus those who also were counselled about healthy food choices and consumed a Mediterranean diet.  After 12 weeks, nearly a third of those who also had the counselling and diet experienced remission from the depression versus only 8 percent for the support group only subjects.

According to Naturopathic Physician Vickie Modica of Seattle, Washington, “Omega-3 fatty acids, known to have an anti-inflammatory effect and thought to have a healthful impact on the nervous system, improve the symptoms of depression in multiple studies.” (source Olive Oil Times).

These links between consumption of Extra Virgin Olive Oil as part of a Mediterranean diet form another layer of understanding of the proven benefits to overall cognitive function.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil For Depression
Extra Virgin Olive Oil For Depression

Extra Virgin Olive Oil Study : Aristotle University Of Thessalonika

A new study from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the Greek Association of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders has shown that the long-term daily consumption of extra virgin olive oil could benefit elderly people with cognitive impairments even more than previously thought.

The research, which was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, tested the effects of high-phenolic early-harvest extra virgin olive oil against moderate phenolic extra virgin olive oil and the Mediterranean diet. Until now, there is no other study which has examined in such a detailed manner the effects of extra virgin olive oil in elders with amnestic mild cognitive impairment as an effective solution.

The researchers found that high-phenolic early-harvest extra virgin olive oil served as a natural therapeutic pharmaceutical compound for older adults with amnestic mild cognitive impairment, which is considered a prodromal condition to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Previous studies have shown the therapeutic effects of following a Mediterranean diet on improving cognitive functions while decreasing the risk of amnestic mild cognitive impairment progressing to Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers conducted a randomized prospective study so as to examine the high-phenolic early-harvest extra virgin olive oil and moderate phenolic extra virgin olive oil versus the Mediterranean diet in MCI. Genetic predisposition (Polymorphism in the apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene is a major genetic risk determinant of late-onset Alzheimer disease) to Alzheimer’s disease was tested and an extensive neuropsychological examination was administered at baseline and after 12 months.

Each participant was randomized and assigned one of three groups. Group 1 received the high-phenolic early-harvest extra virgin olive oil (50 mL/day); Group 2 received the moderate phenolic extra virgin olive oil (50 mL/day), and 3) Group 3 received only the Mediterranean diet  instructions.

The results of the study demonstrated that participants following an high-phenolic early-harvest extra virgin olive oil  variation of the Mediterranean diet fared better in the 12-month follow-up performance in almost all cognitive domains of the Alzheimer’s disease assessment scale-cognitive subscale, which is a scale used to understand the level of cognitive impairment caused by the disease, than adherents to the other two diets. Those patients also fared better with digit span, which focuses on the working memory activity and letter fluency.

Furthermore, adherents to the moderate phenolic extra virgin olive oil variation of the Mediterranean diet fared better on the same cognitive tests than participants in the control group, who followed a standard Mediterranean diet. Thereby it showed contributed to a lift in mood.

“The results of this study suggest that the long-term consumption of an extra virgin olive oil-containing diet starting at an early age provides a protective effect against Alzheimer’s disease and its related disorder cerebral amyloid angiopathy,” the researchers wrote. 

For more information on Extra Virgin Olive Oil and mental health:

Nutrition and depression at the forefront of progress:

A randomized controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression:

Association of the Mediterranean dietary pattern with the incidence of depression:

Mediterranean dietary pattern and depression: the PREDIMED randomized trial:

Dietary pattern and depressive symptoms in middle age: