Olive oil, this staple of the Mediterranean diet, is on the rise. Olive oil is a popular topping for salads, but today some are opting for a more generous and direct drizzle in a glass. In fact, they use it for its purported health benefits by drinking it neat. But despite the craze, the origins of olive oil consumption are difficult to trace. Some evidence suggests that it is an ancient practice in the Mediterranean regions. It is said that a glass of olive oil served as breakfast for the long-lived Greeks of the island of Crete. Are the benefits worth it (literally) or is this a passing fad?
What Are the Potential Health Benefits of Consuming Olive Oil?
Olive oil is a powerful ingredient: it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, according to an article published in Cells in 2020. However, scientific data does not suggest that you should drink olive oil like a Sagittarius. There isn’t any solid research to suggest that any of the potential benefits could be achieved by including olive oil in recipes rather than drinking it directly.
Hundreds of studies have looked at the potential benefits of olive oil in food preparation. Yet few of them have studied the effects of consuming this “liquid gold,” the nickname the Greek poet Homer would have given to this pantry staple. The only allusion to this practice is a brief reference in an article published in Scientific Reports in 2021, noting that drinking extra virgin olive oil “is uncommon among consumers,” possibly due to its pungent and bitter aftertaste.
If you already have a balanced diet, you probably don’t need to add more oil to get health benefits. If you already use high quality olive oil in your cooking and use it in the right preparations, you will reap its benefits.
Blessings with far-reaching consequences, to be precise. Including olive oil in the diet has been linked to improving heart health and reducing the risk of certain types of cancer, as well as promoting satiety and health. In a 2018 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, participants had fewer cardiovascular events when they ate a Mediterranean diet high in vegetables, fruits, lean meats, whole grains, and, yes, lots of oil.
Consuming olive oil in moderation as part of a Mediterranean diet may also help reduce breast cancer risk, according to a review published in Molecules in January 2022.
Finally, this oil benefits the gut, where it helps the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins (like vitamins A, D, E, and K) found in other foods. For example, adding olive oil to your salad will help your body absorb these fat-soluble vitamins better. It can also contribute to a healthy gut microbiome. According to an article published in Nutrition Reviews in 2021, consuming 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil daily can promote beneficial microorganisms in the gut microbiome.
A caveat: While olive oil has gut health benefits, claims that it may help reduce bloating are anecdotal. It may work for some people, but not all. That’s because we don’t all have the same eating habits or the same factors that also affect digestion, such as stress, hormonal imbalances, medications, food intolerances, and exercise habits.
What are the possible side effects of consuming olive oil?
Drinking small amounts of olive oil should not cause harm or negative side effects for most people. Some may experience gastrointestinal distress as eating too much unfamiliar food can cause an upset stomach. If you have a medical condition or are taking a drug that alters how you absorb dietary fat (such as a lipase inhibitor), talk to your doctor before changing your diet.
Caloric density is another potential problem. Fat sources like olive oil contain about 40 calories in one teaspoon. So if you’re concerned about total calorie intake, high-fat foods can be a higher source of calories.
Although nutritionists do not generally recommend drinking virgin olive oil, there are some instances where it might be appropriate. Olive oil shots can be helpful for those struggling to get enough calories each day. In this case, a shot could serve as a concentrated source of calories and healthy fats even if you have little appetite.
How to add olive oil to your diet
The recommended daily dose of olive oil is one and a half tablespoons.
To increase your olive oil intake, try replacing saturated fats (like butter) with olive oil. According to a 2020 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, this exchange is a heart-healthy choice. The study suggests that replacing 5 grams of saturated fat (such as margarine, butter, mayonnaise, or milk fat) daily with the same amount of olive oil (about a teaspoon) was associated with a lower risk of coronary artery disease and cardiovascular disease.
From there, the cooking possibilities are endless. Salads, stir-fries, roasted vegetables, chicken skewers, and fish dishes are some of the easy ways to enjoy olive oil. It is ideal for raw preparations and for roasting and pan frying, but would not be ideal for frying or cooking at very high temperatures. »
Yes, olive oil is excellent for health. No, you don’t have to drink it pure. Although there is anecdotal evidence of the benefits of olive oil shots, no formal studies have shown whether drinking olive oil is more beneficial than eating it with meals or using it in cooking. In general, health experts recommend using olive oil over saturated fat sources, but remember that it’s high in calories. Consult a doctor or nutritionist to find out how much olive oil is right for you so you don’t inadvertently ruin your weight loss or weight maintenance efforts. The consumption recommended for each person varies depending on the destination.
Protein suppresses both the bitterness and oleocanthal-induced pungency of extra virgin olive oil
Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil or nuts
Extra virgin olive oil and the gut-brain axis: impact on gut microbiota, mucosal immunity, and cardiometabolic and cognitive health
Olive oil consumption and cardiovascular risk among US adults
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