Is there a benefit in taking olive oil on an empty stomach?

If you’ve ever been to the Mediterranean coast, you might have heard some people talking about how an early morning tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to break the fast works miracles. Is this true? Is it beneficial to take this olive oil on an empty stomach or, is it a myth?

Know the reality about the beneficial effects of taking olive oil on an empty stomach:

  1. Scientific evidence that backs up this traditional practice.
  2. Reasons to take extra virgin olive oil on an empty stomach.
  3. Reasons to choose this olive oil as the primary source of fat.

1. Scientific evidence that backs up this traditional practice.

Extra virgin olive oil is one of the most characteristic food products of the Mediterranean diet. That is why, for generations, it has been part of many of the traditional remedies from the coastal countries of this sea. One of them focuses on its consumption on an empty stomach. But, if we take it daily to break the fast, will its effects be noticed?

Currently, there are many scientific studies, such as that of PREDIMED, that have shown the benefits of consuming extra virgin olive oil within the Mediterranean diet. Generally speaking, this source of vegetable fat has long contributed to an increase in the life expectancy of southern Europeans.

Although we cannot deny extra virgin olive oil plays a fundamental role in our health, its specific effects on people who take it on an empty stomach have not yet been studied in-depth. That is, we don’t know much beyond its general -yet crucial- benefits.

However, after having spent so many hours without eating, our body reaches a state of hypoglycemia that allows us to absorb more effectively what we ingest immediately afterwards. Hence some scientists endorse the possibility of better assimilating its nutrients.

So, this is also why people might observe some benefits after breaking their fast with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil or drinking it mixed with lemon juice and warm water. But, why exactly should we choose to take this source of fat on an empty stomach? Which are these benefits?

2. Reasons to take extra virgin olive oil on an empty stomach.

Among the many scientifically proven beneficial properties of extra virgin olive oil, there are some why many consumers of this healthy source of fat may decide to take it on an empty stomach. Therefore, if before preparing your breakfast, you start the day with the intake of extra virgin olive oil, you could be helping your body to:

2.1. Stimulate intestinal transit.

Since this oil is composed of healthy fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, it benefits the transit in our intestines by helping our body to stimulate the digestive processes and fight constipation.

2.2. Promote the absorption of nutrients.

Its intake has also proved to partially inhibit gastric motility. So, on the one hand, it regulates the transit of food between the stomach and the intestine, slowing down the process. On the other, it contributes to the proper functioning of the intestinal microbiota, avoiding the transmission of harmful pathogens and thus favouring digestion and absorption of nutrients.

2.3. Reduce gastric acidity.

Extra virgin olive oil has a series of components that can neutralize the damaging effect of gastric acids that cause heartburn and reflux, acting as a protective film on the stomach walls. Hence, many people who suffer from these problems can benefit from its consumption on an empty stomach.

2.4. Mitigate the effects of a hangover.

For this same reason, extra virgin olive oil can help with a hangover. According to scientific evidence, the protective layer on the stomach walls manages to avoid the discomfort caused by alcohol intake by reducing its absorption.

2.5. Healthily lose weight.

This oil has also proven to have satiating effects that calm the appetite and can promote the acceleration of metabolism. This fact makes us consume more energy, thanks to a compound derived from oleic acid known as oleoyl ethanolamide. Therefore, extra virgin olive oil, included in a healthy lifestyle, can help you lose weight.

As we say, these are some reasons that could motivate you to take extra virgin olive oil in the morning. However, even if you don’t take this olive oil on an empty stomach, there are still reasons why should prioritise its consumption over other sources of fat.

3. Reasons to choose this olive oil as the primary source of fat.

Although the World Health Organization recommends that approximately 30% of the total intake of an adult comes from fat sources, it’s paramount to know that not all these fats are equally healthy. Healthy fats are those sources that come from unprocessed or minimally processed foods and that retain properties that benefit the body, such as extra virgin olive oil, which can also help you because:

3.1. It has great anti-inflammatory properties.

Some studies carried out by scientists from Philadelphia (USA) have shown that extra virgin olive oil has a molecule, oleocanthal, capable of acting as a natural pain reliever, in a very similar way to ibuprofen. This component, responsible for providing bitterness and acidity to olive oil, is a polyphenolic anti-inflammatory agent and, therefore, has properties that fight against inflammation.

These characteristics of oleocanthal can help us prevent neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. But, in addition, they are the properties responsible for the extra virgin olive oil helping us protect ourselves against pathologies such as osteoarthritis or coronary heart disease:

3.2. It has positive effects on cardiovascular health.

Consuming extra virgin olive oil is also beneficial because it helps us reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase what is known as good cholesterol (HDL). Overall, its consumption helps prevent numerous coronary diseases, regulating blood pressure and protecting us from myocardial infarctions.

3.3. It supports the digestive system.

As we have mentioned, this oil reduces gastric acidity, stimulates intestinal transit and promotes better absorption of nutrients, calming problems such as gastritis. But, in extension, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties derived from phenolic compounds such as tyrosol and hydroxytyrosol, it helps to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells in the digestive system.

3.4. It helps liver function.

In the same way, as it does on the digestive system, extra virgin olive oil acts on the hepatobiliary system by stimulating the functioning of the gallbladder, helping to reduce the formation of gallstones, that is, dissolving and expelling them.

3.5. It helps in the prevention of certain types of cancer.

Beyond preventing some cancers in the digestive system, extra virgin olive oil has also proven to inhibit breast and ovarian cancer since its intake reduces the progression of these malignant tumours.

Finally, remember that you need to incorporate extra virgin olive oil into an already healthy diet. If you want to know more about, for instance, the Mediterranean diet, in which this oil is a key ingredient, check this out!

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