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Drinking olive oil: Good or bad?

Does drinking olive oil have any benefits?

While olive oil is most often used as a cooking and dipping oil, some believe drinking it affords the most benefits. This article investigates whether drinking olive oil is a good idea.

Evidence-based
This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts, and fact-checked by experts.
We look at both sides of the argument and strive to be objective, unbiased, and honest.
Last updated on November 6, 2022, and last reviewed by an expert on October 8, 2022.

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.

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.

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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:

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.

For this reason, it’s essential to control your calorie intake, regardless of the source of calories.

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Other considerations

It’s essential to consider the following when considering drinking olive oil:

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.

Summary

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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