Whisking together olive oil and lemon juice makes a lovely salad dressing, but could it also be beneficial for your health?
In the world of natural medicine, drinking olive oil and lemon juice before bedtime, or as part of a detox cleanse on an empty stomach, is seen as a potential health-booster for a variety of reasons.
Here’s why you should consider drinking olive oil with lemon juice, as well as our recommendation for the best olive oil for the job.
The Powers of Olive Oil and Lemon Juice
While there is no specific research on the benefits of drinking olive oil with lemon juice, anecdotal evidence from natural medicine practitioners cites a variety of potential health benefits of olive oil. This combination has long been used in home remedies as well.
Benefits of Drinking Olive Oil
First of all, let’s look at a practice with plenty of research: eating olive oil as part of your diet. Some believe that drinking olive oil on its own may have even more benefits than eating olive oil regularly, especially when it comes to the digestive system, though no scientific studies back this up.
According to Healthline, “anecdotal stories claim that drinking the oil can detoxify your body, soothe your stomach, and even aid weight loss.”
Whether or not drinking olive oil is better than eating olive oil, sipping the good stuff will ensure that you have enough olive oil in your diet, which is certainly a good thing.
Which Olive Oil Should You Drink?
Which olive oil is best for sipping? While all olive oil is healthy, one type of olive oil reigns supreme: extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). EVOO is cold-pressed, unheated, and made with minimal processing. Producers simply crush olives and separate the oil from the pulp, so the delicate micronutrients that make olive oil so healthy remain in the oil. That’s why most of the olive oil health research covers EVOO.
Some of the super-healthy compounds in EVOO are polyphenols. Polyphenols have been shown to provide many health benefits, including cancer, heart disease, and neurodegenerative disease prevention. Some of the polyphenol compounds found in EVOO are oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol, and oleocanthal, which have powerful anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.
Additionally, EVOO contains as much as 83% oleic acid, more than any other oil. This monounsaturated fatty acid, AKA one of the “good fats” helps fight cancer and inflammation, and can even help you regulate your cholesterol levels by reducing the bad cholesterol.
The Benefits of Drinking Olive Oil and Lemon Juice
While drinking lemon juice may make your lips pucker, the potential benefits may be worth it. Lemons are known to be high in vitamins, particularly vitamin C, but what else do they bring to the table? Here’s a look at the health-boosting benefits of drinking olive oil and lemon juice.
1. Good Fats
These “good fats” really are good: research shows that monounsaturated fatty acids can provide serious health benefits. According to Healthline, many Americans “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.” But monounsaturated fats are actually very helpful for overall wellness.
As these healthy fats may reduce the risk of heart disease, it’s important to incorporate MUFAs into a healthy diet. Drinking EVOO makes this easy.
2. Heart Health
A number of convincing studies look into the effects of EVOO on cardiovascular and heart health. In a PREDIMED study from 2013, over 7,000 adults in Spain consumed a Mediterranean diet. Participants were tasked with eating either mixed nuts or more than four tablespoons of EVOO each day. The control group in the study ate a low-fat diet instead.
The results were impressive. The combined risk of stroke, heart attack, and death from heart disease was 28% lower in the Mediterranean diet with nuts group. Even more impressive, the combined risk was 31% lower in the Mediterranean diet with olive oil group.
Lemon juice is high in vitamin C. In fact, one lemon provides 51% of your daily intake of vitamin C. According to research, eating vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables could reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. Additionally, plant compounds in lemons, particularly hesperidin and diosmin, may lower cholesterol.
3. Digestive Health
Olive oil may help with a more common affliction: constipation. According to Healthline, this uncomfortable condition may affect approximately 34% of adults over the age of 60.
In a recent study, participants drank one teaspoon of olive oil each day for four weeks. The results were promising: the patients experienced significant relief. Additionally, olive oil was found to have the same effects as mineral oil, which is a common remedy for the condition.
Lemons contain pectin, which is a soluble fiber that is shown to improve gut health. According to Healthline, it may slow the digestion of sugars and starches, which may result in reduced blood sugar levels.
However, this fiber isn’t in the juice – it’s in the pulp. As such, you might want to use a pulpier lemon juice rather than something strained. Freshly squeezed lemon juice might work best.
4. Weight Loss
Olive oil may contain a lot of fat, but that doesn’t mean it’s making you fat. In fact, it might be the opposite. One study found that women with excess body fat who added 1.5 tablespoons of EVOO to their diet found they were able to lose weight easier and also experienced more blood pressure reduction than women eating the same amount of soybean oil.
5. Kidney Stone Prevention
Kidney stones are a common (and very uncomfortable) affliction. Research shows that citric acid may help prevent kidney stones. Why? The citric acid increases the pH of urine, which makes the environment less conducive to kidney stone formation. In fact, four ounces of lemon juice per day could be enough to prevent kidney stone formation.
6. Gallstone Prevention
Olive Oil and Lemon Juice
Similar to kidney stones, gallstones are hard deposits that develop in the gallbladder, causing pain, nausea, and vomiting. The typical remedy is surgical removal.
However, natural medicine practitioners recommend trying a gallbladder cleanse before scheduling a surgery. According to the Alternative Medicine Review, you can try not eating for 12 hours, then drinking four tablespoons of olive oil followed by one tablespoon of lemon juice every 15 minutes for a total of eight cycles. While the treatment might work, there is no hard research to back this up.
How To Choose An Extra Virgin Olive Oil To Drink
As mentioned, EVOO should be your choice for drinking olive oil and lemon juice, thanks to its unbeatable health benefits. So, which olive oil should you choose? As a rule, an olive oil that makes you cough or tickles your throat when you drink it is likely the best choice. That means it’s high in polyphenols, the super-healthy compounds.
If you’re buying olive oil before you taste it, here’s another guideline: Dr. William Li, internal medicine physician and author of Eat to Beat Disease, recommends monovarietal olive oils made from Koroneiki, Picual, and Moraiolo, as these typically contain the highest levels of polyphenols.
Here are two good options, made with Picual and Koroneiki olives.
- Grumpy Goats Farm Picual from Yolo County, California, an award-winning Picual monovarietal olive oil. It is pungent and peppery, with flavors of green fruit, green herbs, cut grass, and tomato leaf.
- The PJ Kabos Family Reserve is an award-winning Koroneiki monovarietal. As the hand-harvested olives are pressed immediately after they’re picked, it’s particularly high in healthy polyphenols.
The Bottom Line
Drinking olive oil and lemon juice is a surefire way to get the benefits of both health-promoting ingredients.
Whether you choose to drink first thing in the morning or before bed, your body will thank you for the nutrient boost. And if drinking olive oil and lemon juice straight up isn’t for you, you can also use the melange to dress your next salad.