Change your oil.
Whether you drink it by the spoonful, drizzle it over your ice cream, or pour it into your coffee, health experts tend to agree—there’s no wrong way to get olive oil into your diet.
Sometimes referred to as liquid gold, olive oil is the queen of fats – monounsaturated and packed with antioxidants and other healthy compounds you won’t find in animal or processed fats.
Research shows that those who make the switch will also enjoy a long list of health benefits.
What are the health benefits of olive oil?
You might want to sit down for this one.
One of the most commonly cited benefits of olive oil is its use as a natural laxative.
Constipation—infrequent or uncomfortable bowel movements—is the most common gastrointestinal complaint and prompts millions of Americans to book expensive doctor visits each year.
“Constipation occurs because the colon (large intestine) absorbs too much water from your stool. This dries out your poop, making it hard in consistency and difficult to push out of your body,” according to a paper published by the Cleveland Clinic.
Olive oil can help alleviate this problem – the fats help soften the inside of a person’s gut and soften the stool, helping it absorb more water.
Studies have also shown that adding more olive oil to your diet can reduce your risk of dying from dementia – the seventh leading cause of death, according to the World Health Organization.
“Certain antioxidant compounds in olive oil can cross the blood-brain barrier, potentially having a direct effect on the brain,” said Dr. Anne-Julie Tessier of Harvard. “It is also possible that olive oil has an indirect effect on brain health by benefiting cardiovascular health.”
Olive oil is also an important component of the Mediterranean diet, which has been repeatedly shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease – especially coronary heart disease – and the risk of death from any cause.
Other studies have shown that more than half a tablespoon of oil can reduce the risk of death from cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and respiratory diseases.
When should I drink olive oil?
Drinking one or two tablespoons of olive oil early in the morning on an empty stomach is especially beneficial.
This allows the oil to coat the stomach to aid digestion, remove waste and regulate gut microflora throughout the day.
What kind of olive oil should I buy?
Some varieties of olive oil use heat to extract as much juice as possible from the fruit.
However, extra virgin olive oil is created using a cold-pressed process and is left unrefined, allowing it to retain some of the antioxidants and bioactive compounds.
Experts suggest tossing in a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to absorb as many nutrients as possible.