Drinking olive oil may seem like a strange thing to do. Many people still think of oils as unhealthy and fattening, and oil is for cooking not drinking, right? Not necessarily. Olive oil is among the healthiest oils, and drinking it may improve your health and waistline.
How Is Drinking Olive Oil Healthy?
Many health-conscious individuals avoid fried foods and oil-laden dishes. For years, health advocates taught oil is the enemy and causes obesity and chronic health conditions like heart disease. However, this is not the whole picture because not all oils are created equal. You should limit most oils and fats in your diet; however, because olive oil is a healthy fat, drinking it in moderation may improve health.
Healthy Components of Olive Oil
According to the Mayo Clinic (Mayo), olive oil contains monounsaturated fats (MUFAS), which may help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports consuming approximately two tablespoons, or 23 grams, of olive oil daily is the minimum amount needed to reduce your serum total- and LDL-cholesterol.
To get even more health benefits, you can substitute olive oil for saturated fats in your diet. Mayo reports extra-virgin olive oil is the least processed, which makes it the best selection when choosing an olive oil. Extra-virgin olive oil also contains high levels of polyphenols, a potent antioxidant that encourages heart health. According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, olive oil polyphenols reduce LDL plasma concentrations and may decrease cardiovascular risk.
Not everyone agrees on olive oil's health benefits. According to Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa, some studies on olive oil show it impairs artery dilation, promotes inflammation, and may cause weight gain, especially when added to a poor diet.
Olive Oil for Digestive Disorders
Castor oil is a well-known remedy for constipation, used to lubricate the intestinal tract and promote elimination. In the same way, olive oil is useful for relieving occasional constipation. It is often gentler than stool softeners and medications found over-the-counter, which can cause cramping and with continued use, may be habit-forming.
Olive Oil for Weight Loss
Olive oil may promote weight loss because it makes you feel fuller, but scientific research is unclear. Olive oil is part of the MUFA diet, also known as the Flat Belly Diet, which claims to help you lose 15 pounds mainly of belly fat in 30 days. Anecdotal results are positive, but it's unclear if weight loss is due to the fact that the diet eliminates unhealthy foods or from consuming olive oil.
While drinking a small amount of olive oil daily can be part of a healthy diet, it's important to keep track of how much you're consuming. Healthy or not, olive oil is high in calories and fat, coming in at 119 calories and 14 grams of fat per tablespoon. If you drink olive oil and cook with it, the calories add up and you may inadvertently sabotage your weight loss goals.
Olive Oil Dosage
Drugs.com reports olive oil has been used safely in quantities up to 2.7 tablespoons. It's not recommended that pregnant or lactating women use in amounts more than what's typically found in foods.
WebMD recommends the following daily olive oil dosages:
- For constipation: 30 mL (about 2 tablespoons)
- For high blood pressure: 30 to 40 grams (2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons) as part of your diet. In other words, if you drink that much olive oil daily, don't add more to your foods.
- For high cholesterol: 23 grams (a little less than 2 tablespoons) in place of other fats in your diet.
- For preventing heart disease and heart attacks: 54 grams (about 4 tablespoons). To avoid weight gain with this amount, make sure other foods you eat are healthy and lower in calories and fats. The risk of side effects may increase when higher doses are consumed.
If you cannot tolerate the taste of olive oil on its own, you can add it to your morning coffee or juice or to a smoothie.
Olive Oil Side Effects and Interactions
According to WebMD, about two tablespoons a day of olive oil is "likely safe." Up to a liter per week of olive oil as part of a Mediterranean diet has also been used safely. Pregnant and lactating women should avoid consuming olive oil in amounts higher than those found in food.
Side effects may include:
- Low blood sugar in diabetics
- Allergic reaction
Olive oil may interact with anti-diabetes and antihypertensive drugs.
Drink in Moderation
Drinking a tablespoon or two of olive oil daily as part of a healthy diet may reduce your risk of heart disease and help you lose weight. However, to avoid consuming too many calories, it's best to replace other dietary fats with olive oil and not add olive oil to a diet already high in fats. Before beginning a daily olive oil regimen or using it to treat any medical condition, talk to your doctor to see if it's a healthy choice for you.