There’s a trend going around with the internet and some celebrities touting the benefits of drinking shots of olive oil.
We’re here to explore if it’s true, what the health benefits of olive oil really are for the human body, and the best way to consume it.
Spoiler alert: olive oil is great!
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What is Extra Virgin Olive Oil AKA EVOO?
First things first: what do we mean when we talk about Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) and how are these healthy fats? Olive oil is made from pressing olives to extract the oil. There is more to regular olive oil than meets the eye!
There are three types of processed oil: refined oil, virgin olive oil, and extra virgin olive oil. EVOO is the least-processed of the types, which means it has a higher amount of the beneficial antioxidants like oleic acid, polyunsaturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamin e, and vitamin k.
Oleic acid is a fatty acid that can replace saturated fats, and is deemed heart-healthy because it can help reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids help lower cholesterol and contain omega-3 and omega-6 fats. These are essential fatty acids that the body needs for brain function and cell growth.
Monounsaturated fatty acids help reduce the risk of heart disease and heart attack because they help reduce bad cholesterol in your body.
Vitamin E is an essential nutrient that doubles as an antioxidant, while vitamin K helps with bone health, blood clotting, and heart health.
Extra virgin olive oil is filled with the good monounsaturated fats, and it’s clear why it’s the main focus of the Mediterranean diet.
When purchasing olive oil, you want to make sure to high quality olive oil that is cold-pressed. Avoid anything low quality or diluted with other oils (especially seed oils) for maximum benefits.
One brand we really love is Brightland. They make high quality olive oils as well as flavored olive oils that are a joy to cook with and a delight to the senses.
What’s the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet stems from the cuisine from the countries from the Mediterranean region like Italy and Greece. It’s typically a low-fat diet used to aid with weight loss, and is widely recommended by doctors. It is a whole-foods plant-focused healthy diet with whole grains, vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, as the foundation of the diet.
Olive oil is the main source of added fat. Fish, seafood, dairy and poultry are consumed in moderation while red meat and sweets are eaten only occasionally.
10 Benefits of Drinking Olive Oil in the Morning
Olive oil has great benefits, especially in partnership with a nutrient-dense whole-foods diet like the Mediterranean diet. It helps improve bodily functions, reduce inflammation, and works as a preventive measure thanks to the antioxidants, fatty acids, and vitamins it contains. It is also one of the most stable oils that you can cook with and can be used on high heat up to 400 degrees.
Improves gut microbiome
One trend that we hope is here to stay is caring about your gut health. It’s not just about good digestion—gut health and your gut microbiome can affect your whole body and overall health.
EVOO helps your gut microbiome by reducing the bad bacteria, stimulating the growth of good bacteria, and increasing the production of fatty acids which have anti-inflammatory effects, according to researchers. A healthy gut microbiome is key for a strong immune system.
Improves brain function
Studies show that the polyphenols, which are antioxidants found in olive oil, help improve brain function such as memory. In particular, this study states that “the Mediterranean diet and consumption of its main component, the extra-virgin olive oils (EVOOs) have been linked to better visual memory, verbal fluency, and decreased risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.”
It can reduce inflammation
The anti-inflammatory properties of olive oil are attributed to the type of fatty acids it contains that are associated with a decrease in inflammation. The antioxidants in olive oil have an anti-inflammatory effects and the antioxidant called oleocanthal has a similar effect as the over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine ibuprofen. Some scientists estimate that 3-4 tablespoons (50 ml) of extra virgin olive oil have a similar effect as 10% of the adult dosage of ibuprofen.
It can help with constipation
Consuming a tablespoon of olive oil every day can help your digestive system get movin’. The healthy fats in olive oil can help smooth the bowel and relieve constipation.
To use olive oil as an aid for constipation, it is recommended to take one tablespoon of olive oil in the morning on an empty stomach. However, taking too much on an empty stomach can cause cramping or diarrhea.
If you have any prior conditions, it’s best to talk to your doctor before trying any new remedies.
It may help with bloating
Thanks to its anti-inflammatory benefits, gut health benefits, and helping relieve constipation, olive oil can also help with bloating. There isn’t enough research yet to firmly state that drinking olive oil on an empty stomach will prevent bloating.
However, it is widely agreed that good digestion and regular bowel movements you may have less bloating. Therefore olive oil can be a helpful addition to your diet in aiding in overall digestive health.
It may help lower risk of certain cancers
Research has found that when olive oil with potential antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects. Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) has several bioactive compounds, mainly including monounsaturated fatty acids, triterpenes and polyphenols.
Further, researchers found that he interaction between gut microbiota and olive oil consumption could help with colonic microbial composition or activity, with a possible role in colon cancer prevention.
While more research is still needed, most agree that there is a great benefit to consuming olive oil is such as cancer prevention.
It may help reduce risk of heart disease.
Olive Oil is one of the richest plant sources of monounsaturated fatty acids. These essential fatty acids are necessary for heart health, benefiting your heart and aiding in preventing cardiovascular disease!
And, as mentioned earlier, the fatty acids and vitamins found in olive oil help lower cholesterol, replace “bad fats” in your diet, and reduce inflammation. All of these help keep your heart healthy!
Olive oil is a great addition to any diet: studies found that those who consumed at least 4 tablespoons of olive oil on a daily basis were 30% less likely to develop heart disease, compared with those just following a low-fat diet.
It can help prevent Type 2 Diabetes
In a study about olive oil and Type 2 Diabetes, scientists found a that a higher intake of olive oil correlated with a lower risk of Type 2 Diabetes. They also found consumption of olive oil as a part of a healthy diet improved blood glucose levels in participants withy Type 2 Diabetes.
It should be stated that olive oil can not replace insulin or cure diabetes, but can be beneficial part of your diet if you struggle with your blood sugar levels. Learn more by chatting with your doctor about the best nutrition plan for your body.
It can help support bone health
Studies show that consuming green olives and olive oil supports bone health. Daily consumption of olive oil could prevent the decline in bone mineral density and improve bone turnover markers, especially as we age. Olive oil could be consumed in part of a healthy diet as a preventive measure against osteoporosis. It is recommended to speak with your doctor before making any dietary changes if you already have a degenerative bone disease.
It helps with caloric increases
Sometimes people need to consume more calories than they can manage for weight gain, and olive oil is a healthy way to increase calories while incorporating essential vitamins and antioxidants. There are a variety of reasons someone may need more calories, such as if they are battling cancer, breast feeding, or are at what is considered a low weight. As always, talk to your doctor about your dietary needs before adding or subtracting anything from your diet.
In Summary: Benefits of Drinking Olive Oil in the Morning
Should we be drinking a shot of olive oil first thing in the morning? There are not enough studies to say conclusively that there are more olive oil benefits if you drink it on an empty stomach, or at a specific time of day. Olive oil is great, and you will benefit by increasing your olive oil intake along with eating healthy foods as part of a balanced diet.
You don’t have to use much olive oil —just a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil can make a difference in your day. You can incorporate it into your daily cooking and consumption, such as drizzling over soup, your favorite bread, and making your own salad dressings for big, leafy-and-veggie-filled salads. Personally I love to make olive oil toast, which is just a slice of my favorite rye bread drizzled with a little EVOO and a small sprinkle of salt.
What do you think? Will you start incorporating olive oil into your cooking?