Olive oil is the basis of the Mediterranean diet, widely known for its contribution to cardiovascular health. Oleic acid, the main component of olive oil, is responsible for this beneficial effect. It is a monounsaturated fat which helps to lower cholesterol and prevent cardiovascular and metabolic problems, playing a fundamental role in maintaining a healthy weight by intervening in the regulation of the metabolism of lipids. The Spanish Food Safety Agency (AESAN) recommends the use of olive oil "for dressing salads, for frying and for stews" and it places the product at the base of the recommended food pyramid, among the group of food products that should be consumed "several times a day".
The content in oleic acid is greater in virgin olive oil, which is why the Spanish Society for Community Nutrition recommends "the consumption of virgin olive oil, both for cooking as well as dressing", setting the recommended daily consumption at between three and six 10-ml rations (a soup spoon). Extra virgin olive oil is also particularly rich in vitamin E, a natural antioxidant that reduces the ageing of tissues and for its low acidity which contributes to preventing and curing gastrointestinal ulcers.