Olive oil is widely recognized for its health benefits.
It boasts anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and may help protect against certain chronic diseases.
While it’s commonly used as a cooking and dipping oil, some people believe that drinking it will allow you to reap its maximum benefits.
This article explains whether you should drink olive oil.
Why people drink olive oil
It’s said that some people in the Mediterranean region drink 1/4 cup (60 ml) of olive oil every morning.
Indeed, this may be one way to reap its many potential anti-inflammatory and disease-preventing benefits.
Anecdotal stories claim that drinking the oil can detoxify your body, soothe your stomach, and even aid weight loss.
Some people believe that drinking olive oil provides even more benefits than using it in a meal. Nevertheless, there is no research to support this claim.
Summary: Some people suggest drinking olive oil has health benefits. However, these claims have not been substantiated by research.
Potential benefits of drinking olive oil
Studies suggest that drinking olive oil may offer several health benefits.
Drinking olive oil may help meet the recommended intake of healthy fats
Most people eat enough total fat, but many fall short of getting enough polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), which are found in certain oils, nuts, seeds, and other plant sources.
Dietary guidelines recommend that you get 20–35% of your calories from fat, primarily from PUFAs and MUFAs.
Olive oil is one of the richest plant sources of MUFAs, and consuming it can help you meet your needs for this type of fat. MUFAs are especially beneficial for heart health and may help reduce your risk of heart disease.
MUFAs are found in some animal products, but studies suggest their most significant health benefits are achieved by eating plant-based sources of this fat.
Drinking a couple of tablespoons of olive oil daily could help you meet the recommended amount of this fat if you get insufficient amounts from your diet.
Drinking olive oil may relieve constipation
Drinking olive oil may relieve constipation, affecting approximately 34% of adults over 60.
In a 4-week study, giving about one teaspoon (4 ml) of olive oil daily to 50 constipated hemodialysis patients resulted in significantly softened stools.
Furthermore, olive oil was found to be as effective as mineral oil — a commonly used stool softener — at relieving constipation.
Another study of 414 people over 50 found that 97.7% of those with more than three bowel movements per week had high intakes of olive oil.
Although these findings are promising, more studies are needed to understand better how drinking olive oil may help relieve constipation.
Drinking olive oil may benefit heart health
Olive oil has long been acknowledged as a heart-healthy fat.
Oleic acid, monounsaturated fat found in high quantities in olive oil, is one compound that is thought to play a role in supporting heart health. It may reduce the risk of heart disease when used in place of other fat sources.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claims that replacing fats and oils higher in saturated fat with 1.5 tablespoons (22 ml) of oils high in oleic acid daily may reduce your risk of heart disease.
However, to achieve this benefit, calories from oleic acid should not increase the total number of calories you eat daily.
Also, a study of 7,447 people found that those who consumed at least four tablespoons (60 ml) of olive oil daily were 30% less likely to develop heart disease than those following a low-fat diet for five years.
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Moreover, many other studies have shown that those with a high olive oil intake are at a lower risk of heart disease.
While there’s no shortage of studies on olive oil and heart disease, more research is needed to support the notion of drinking olive oil to improve heart health.
Other benefits of drinking olive oil
In addition to the benefits above, drinking olive oil may have the following effects:
- Help stabilize blood sugar. A study in 25 healthy individuals showed a 22% reduction in blood sugar 2 hours after eating a meal containing olive oil, compared with the control group.
- Support bone health. A study of 523 women found that consuming over 18 grams (20 ml) of olive oil per day resulted in significantly higher bone density than consuming less than that amount per day.
- Reduce inflammation. Several compounds in olive oil may have anti-inflammatory effects, including oleocanthal. It may offer pain relief effects similar to those of over-the-counter pain medications.
Summary: Olive oil is a healthy fat that contains anti-inflammatory compounds. Drinking it regularly may benefit your heart, bone, and digestive health and help stabilize your blood sugar levels.
Downsides of drinking olive oil
While drinking olive may offer several potential health benefits, there are downsides.
Olive oil is high in calories and may cause weight gain
Olive oil is high in calories, containing 120 calories per tablespoon (15 ml).
Although the relationship between calorie intake and weight gain is complicated and depends on many factors, it’s well established that consuming more calories than you burn leads to weight gain.
Furthermore, a recent study found that increased MUFA intake also increased body weight, suggesting that olive oil could contribute to weight gain if consumed in excess.
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For this reason, it’s essential to control your calorie intake, regardless of the source of calories.
It’s essential to consider the following when considering drinking olive oil:
- Provides more benefits when consumed with food. For example, consuming olive oil with tomato products significantly increases the absorption of disease-fighting antioxidants in tomatoes.
- Can displace healthy foods. Although olive oil is a healthy fat source, it’s not as nutritious as whole foods. Drinking too much may displace healthier foods, such as other healthy fats, vegetables, and proteins.
- Potential allergen. Although rare, olive pollen is a potential allergen, and olive oil can cause contact dermatitis in affected individuals.
- Many benefits not supported by research. Many of the purported benefits of drinking olive oil are not supported by research but endorsed by companies selling olive oil or personal anecdotes.
Summary: Drinking olive oil may cause weight gain if consumed in excess and drinking the oil on its own is likely not as beneficial as consuming it with food. Also, many claims about drinking olive oil are not supported by research.
Should you drink olive oil?
Olive oil can be part of a healthy diet, affording many health benefits.
However, it’s unclear whether drinking large amounts of olive oil would provide benefits beyond those associated with the recommended intake.
Many studies have documented the benefits of following a diet rich in olive oil, but research supporting drinking this oil is limited.
Additionally, drinking too much olive oil can displace healthy foods in your diet.
Furthermore, the amount you consume should not cause you to exceed the recommendations for daily fat or calorie intake.
Summary: As long as you stick to the recommended amounts of olive oil, you can reap its benefits regardless of whether you choose to drink it or cook with it.
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats and has several health benefits, making it a healthy addition to a balanced diet when consumed in moderation.
Regularly consuming olive oil can help you reach the recommended intake of healthy fats and may benefit your overall health in several ways.
However, more research is needed to determine whether drinking olive oil is better than simply using it regularly as part of a nutritious diet.
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