You’ve probably heard that olive oil is a healthy oil for cooking, dressing salads, and more.
But did you know that olive oil is also good enough to drink? Some health professionals swear by drinking olive oil at night. But not just any olive oil – for this you’ll need the good stuff.
Should you consider drinking olive oil daily? In this article, we dive into the details.
Why You Should Drink Olive Oil at Night
Drinking olive oil is a popular remedy for digestive system problems in some Mediterranean cultures and natural medicine circles. According to Healthline, “anecdotal stories claim that drinking the oil can detoxify your body, soothe your stomach, and even aid weight loss.” Some believe that drinking olive oil neat has more benefits than eating olive oil as part of a meal.
That said, there is no specific research on whether drinking olive oil before bed is any more beneficial than eating olive oil as part of your diet in healthy food. However, there are plenty of science-backed benefits that showcase the nutritional value of olive oil. If anything, drinking olive oil at night is a surefire way to make sure you’re getting enough to experience the health benefits of olive oil. Here’s what makes olive oil good enough to drink.
Reach For The EVOO
Before we dive into the benefits of olive oil, it’s worth clarifying that most of the research surrounds high-quality extra virgin olive oil (EVOO).
EVOO is made with minimal processing. It’s simple: producers crush olives and separate the oil from the pulp. As it is cold-pressed and unheated, the delicate micronutrients, including polyphenols, remain.
What are polyphenols? Found in olives, these compounds offer a range of impressive health benefits, including slowing the development of heart diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer. Some of the polyphenol compounds found in EVOO are oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol, and oleocanthal. These have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial properties.
Regular olive oil is still healthier than most other cooking oils, but it isn’t as potent as EVOO. As these contain a combination of refined olive oil and a smaller percentage of virgin olive oil, a 2018 study shows that regular olive oil contains reduced levels of beneficial compounds like polyphenols.
Both EVOO and regular olive oil contain as much as 83% oleic acid, which is more than any other oil. This monounsaturated fatty acid, also known as a “healthy fat,” helps fight cancer and inflammation.
1. Olive oil gets your healthy fats up.
Most Americans get a lot of fat in their diet, but the type of fat matters. According to Healthline, “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.” We tend to consume much more saturated fat than is good for us while skimping on the healthy fats.
Olive oil is one of the richest plant-based sources of monounsaturated fats. As MUFAs may reduce the risk of heart disease and can help manage your cholesterol, it’s important to make sure you hit your numbers. Drinking a spoonful of olive oil before bed might help you reach the recommended daily amount.
2. Olive oil promotes cardiovascular health.
Many studies have looked into the effects of olive oil on cardiovascular and heart health. In the 2013 PREDIMED study, over 7,000 adults in Spain consumed a Mediterranean diet. Participants ate either mixed nuts or more than four tablespoons of EVOO each day. The control group ate a low-fat diet.
The study found that the combined risk of stroke, heart attack, and death from heart disease was 28% lower in the Mediterranean diet with nuts group. The risk was reported as 31% lower in the Mediterranean diet with olive oil group. More recent studies have shown positive impacts for Americans, as well.
3. Olive oil may keep cancer at bay.
Scientists have shown that people living in Mediterranean regions have lower rates of cancer when compared to people living elsewhere. The research suggests that olive oil may be partially to thank.
A 2011 research review found that women who had more olive oil in their diet had lower risks of cancer, particularly breast cancer and colon cancer. Additional studies find that a Mediterranean diet, including olive oil, might reduce skin cancer risks.
Why might olive oil prevent cancer? It all comes down to the polyphenol compounds. Hydroxytyrosol, oleuropein, oleocanthal, and more have been shown to reduce inflammation, induce apoptosis (programmed cancer cell death), and make it harder for cancer cells to metastasize. Read more about the bioactive compounds in olive oil here.
4. Olive oil may prevent constipation.
Another benefit of drinking olive oil at night: it may relieve constipation. As cited in Healthline, this condition may affect approximately 34% of adults over the age of 60.
In a four-week study, participants drank one teaspoon of olive oil each day. The study found that the patients experienced significant relief. What’s more, olive oil was found to be as effective as mineral oil, which is commonly used to relieve the condition.
In another study of 414 people over the age of 50, “97.7% of those with more than 3 bowel movements per week had high intakes of olive oil.” More research is needed, but these results are promising.
5. Olive oil might promote weight loss.
If you’ve ever feared that eating fats make you fat, it’s time to let that myth fall to the wayside. A recent study found that women with excess body fat who added 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil experienced significantly more weight loss and blood pressure reduction than women having the same amount of soybean oil. Following the study, research recommended using EVOO in obesity treatments.
And so much for the freshman 15! In another study of more than 7,000 college students, higher olive oil consumption was not associated with weight gain over the course of 28 months.
This said, it's important to remember is that olive oil is an energy rich, high calorie food. You need to substitute EVOO for other sources of calories in your diet or you will probably gain weight.
6. It may help you sleep better.
Anecdotally, some people in Mediterranean cultures believe that it may help you sleep better. Why? Well, drinking olive oil gives you the sensation of being full. Instead of eating a large meal late at night to make you feel full, which disrupts digestion and can keep you awake, olive oil might provide a similar feeling of satiety.
Which Extra Virgin Olive Oil To Drink?
As we mentioned above, EVOO should be your go-to for late-night sipping. Why? It’s cold-pressed and unrefined, which means it has the most health benefits.
It also has the most exciting flavor profile. EVOO can be intense, medium, or delicate. Diving even deeper, they can taste of apples, figs, herbs, freshly-cut grass, radish, arugula, or more. (Not sure what you like? Get your friends together for an olive oil tasting.)
So yes, choose what you like. However, when you’re looking for the most impressive health benefits, there is a rule of thumb: the spicier the better. If an olive oil makes you cough when you drink it and has a bitter finish, that means it’s high in polyphenols, those compounds that pack a healthy punch.
Not sure where to start? Dr. William Li, M.D., internal medicine physician and author of Eat to Beat Disease, claims that monovarietal olive oils made from Koroneiki, Picual, and Moraiolo olives typically contain the highest levels of polyphenols but there are plenty of other high-polyphenol options out there.
To Sum Up
It’s true: olive oil is an excellent source of healthy compounds and good fats. While there aren’t specific, science-backed reasons to drink olive oil before bed, there are many, well-researched reasons to add EVOO to your diet.
To experience the most benefits, we advise following a Mediterranean-style healthy diet. Nothing makes vegetables, legumes and other healthy foods taste better than good EVOO!