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Juniper Journal

Can olive oil help you lose weight?

And if so, what's the healthiest type to include in your diet?

Can olive oil help you lose weight?
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We've all heard about the Mediterranean diet as one of — if not the healthiest diet out there [1].

And what's the first thing that comes to mind when you think about this way of eating? We'll go out on a limb and say it's olive oil.

Considered by many a superfood, olive oil is the liquid fat extracted from pressing whole olives. It has been proven to have several health benefits — which we'll get to shortly — but one common question is, can it help you lose weight? And if so, what's the healthiest type to include in your diet? Let's dive in.

Calories and nutrition facts

Many know olive oil as a source of healthy fats, and rightly so. According to the USDA, one tablespoon of olive oil contains [2]:

  • 119 calories
  • 13.5 grams of fat
  • 1.9 mg of vitamin E
  • 8.1 mcg of vitamin K

Olive oil, particularly extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), is also packed full of antioxidants.

This makes it a powerful tool for fighting and preventing health conditions like type 2 diabetes, cancer, oxidative stress and cardiovascular disease, as well as protecting LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) from oxidation [3].

What are the health benefits of olive oil?

We've already touched on some of the health benefits of including olive oil in your diet — but there's more:

It can protect against heart disease

Olive oil is rich in healthful compounds, including monounsaturated fatty acids, oleuropein, and polyphenols (a type of antioxidant).

Thanks to these compounds, it protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation [4] and prevents atherosclerosis (the thickening of the arteries due to built-up fats, cholesterol and other substances).

It also helps to lower blood pressure, with one study showing that consuming olive oil reduces the need for blood pressure medications by 48% [5].

Additionally, a study comparing olive oil intake and stroke incidence found that those who consumed the highest amounts had a 41% lower risk of having a stroke [6].

It may lower your risk of type 2 diabetes

Extra virgin olive oil contains phenolic compounds that support glucose metabolism and improve insulin sensitivity, and research suggests that including it as part of your daily diet can decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 13% [7].

Another randomised clinical trial done in 418 healthy people confirmed these benefits and found the Mediterranean diet to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by over 40% [8].

It may improve your brain function

The same phenolic compounds that improve insulin sensitivity can be beneficial to your brain health, particularly by clearing the compounds that lead to brain degeneration.

As a result, olive oil could reduce the risk of Alzheimer's and age-related dementia. Although more studies are needed to confirm this, the initial research is promising.

It reduces inflammation

Antioxidants are key for easing inflammation.

One of the antioxidants present in virgin and extra virgin olive oil in particular — oleocanthal — is such a powerful anti-inflammatory that its benefits have been compared to those of Ibuprofen [9].

Oleic acid can also help lower inflammation and some studies suggest that it may help prevent cancer [10][11] — which might explain why the incidence of cancer is lower in Mediterranean countries [12].

It could help you live longer

Big claim, we know, but with all the health benefits we just listed, it's easy to understand how consuming olive oil could contribute to better longevity.

In fact, a large study that followed over 400,000 Spanish people over 13.5 years found that those who consumed the most olive oil were less likely to die early than those who consumed the least amount [13].

Is olive oil good for weight loss?

Now, for the question that brought you to this article: could olive oil help you lose weight?

And for the good news: EVOO has been proven to support weight loss when consumed as part of a balanced, healthy diet.

This is largely thanks to the monounsaturated fatty acids it contains, which are better for healthy weight maintenance than saturated fat [14].

It's also thanks to its oleic acid, which is a powerful appetite suppressant, meaning it can prevent you from overeating and snacking between meals and consequently gaining weight [15].

You may also hear some people claim that olive oil massages can help with weight loss, but there's no research to confirm this.

Of course, olive oil — and nutrition as a whole — is only one piece of the weight loss puzzle and there are several other components to consider, including exercise, sleep, and stress levels.

But you don't have to navigate through this all by yourself. If you need a bit of extra guidance kickstarting your weight loss journey, Juniper's Weight Reset Program might be just what you're looking for.

Designed by Australian health practitioners and dietitians, this program combines medically proven treatments with personal, one-on-one support from a health coach who will provide you with expert advice and keep you accountable.

The result? Healthy habits that stick for life and weight loss you can actually maintain in the long run.

Daily shot of olive oil for weight loss: Does it work?

If you've been doing your research on the health benefits of olive oil, you may have come across the trend of having a daily shot of olive oil for weight loss.

But, does it actually work?

According to Dr Mary Flynn, a US nutritionist who's been studying the effects of olive oil for decades, consuming 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil a day can, in fact, be a powerful tool in your weight loss journey [16].

She emphasises, however, that this is only the case if you combine it with a healthy Mediterranean-style diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.

Keep in mind that what works for one person may not work for you, and having a daily olive oil shot doesn't guarantee weight loss success.

If you want to give it a go, it's always a good idea to speak to a dietitian or nutritionist first to understand whether this method is right for you and if so, how to best approach it.

Does olive oil help reduce stomach fat?

First things first, you can't spot reduce fat, so there's no one food (or exercise) that can help you burn belly fat specifically.

Having said that, the monounsaturated fatty acids in olive oil are said to reduce fat storage, particularly around the midsection area [17].

The antioxidants can also help fight inflammation and metabolic stress that could otherwise lead to weight gain and fat accumulation.

So once again, as part of a nutritious diet, olive oil can support your fat-burning efforts.

What is the healthiest type of olive oil?

Olive oil comes in different types, which vary in production method, acidity content, and flavour. If you're wondering which one is the healthiest (and tastiest), the answer is EVOO.

Let's have a look at some of the main types of olive oil in a bit more detail [18]:

  • EVOO: The least processed type of olive oil, EVOO is unrefined, cold-extracted, and mechanically extracted without being exposed to chemicals. EVOO is typically darker in colour and, as the highest quality variety, it has a distinct flavour of olives. It's also considered the best olive oil for those wanting to lose weight and/or watching their cholesterol levels.
  • Virgin olive oil: Slightly lower quality than EVOO, virgin olive oil is also mechanically produced without chemicals or heat. It isn't as readily available so you might not see it on your local grocery store's shelves.
  • Pure olive oil: Also referred to as 'regular olive oil' or simply 'olive oil', this variety undergoes refining processes that use chemicals and/or heat. This means the flavour isn't up to par with the two types mentioned above, and neither are the health benefits.
  • Light olive oil: Don't be fooled by the name — light olive oil isn't a lower-calorie or lower-fat alternative to the varieties above. What makes it 'light' is actually its lighter colour and neutral flavour. Though light olive oil still has some nutritional benefits, it contains refined oil and isn't the healthiest choice.

Can you have olive oil every day?

Absolutely, you can. As long as it fits within your calorie deficit (if you are in one), it's perfectly fine to have olive oil every day.

In fact, a lot of the olive oil benefits we mentioned in this article come from regular consumption of this superfood.

Ways to incorporate olive oil into your diet

We've all used olive oil for sautéing, frying or grilling other foods, but this mighty oil is more versatile than many give it credit for.

If you want to enjoy more olive oil as part of your diet, here are some ideas:

  • Use it as part of a salad dressing. There are countless recipes you can try — honey mustard vinaigrette, Greek salad dressing and basil vinaigrette, to name a few — but something as easy as EVOO mixed with lemon juice, salt, and pepper can take a simple salad to the next level.
  • Serve it on bread. High-quality olive oil can be a great replacement for butter. The fats are healthier and the flavour is unbeatable, so why not give it a try?
  • Mix it in your coffee. Might sound weird at first, but adding a healthy fat to black coffee is actually a common practice in several countries. The olive oil coats the lining of your stomach, which can slow the absorption of the caffeine and prevent that 3PM energy crash we've all experienced before.
  • Make a Greek yoghurt-based dip. Need something to dip your veggies or pita chips in? Mix some EVOO with plain Greek yoghurt, salt, pepper and sriracha for a good dose of protein, fats, and flavour.
  • Drizzle over fruit. Next time you're craving a bowl of fruit, try drizzling a bit of olive oil (and some fresh mint) on top — it's a great way to enhance the sweet, tangy flavours and add some healthy fats to this snack.

Just remember that with olive oil, the calories can easily add up.

We recommend using measuring spoons instead of serving straight from the bottle. It will give you more control and it's also easier to track, in case you use a food diary or app.

Image credit: Getty Images

We've all heard about the Mediterranean diet as one of — if not the healthiest diet out there [1].

And what's the first thing that comes to mind when you think about this way of eating? We'll go out on a limb and say it's olive oil.

Considered by many a superfood, olive oil is the liquid fat extracted from pressing whole olives. It has been proven to have several health benefits — which we'll get to shortly — but one common question is, can it help you lose weight? And if so, what's the healthiest type to include in your diet? Let's dive in.

Calories and nutrition facts

Many know olive oil as a source of healthy fats, and rightly so. According to the USDA, one tablespoon of olive oil contains [2]:

  • 119 calories
  • 13.5 grams of fat
  • 1.9 mg of vitamin E
  • 8.1 mcg of vitamin K

Olive oil, particularly extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), is also packed full of antioxidants.

This makes it a powerful tool for fighting and preventing health conditions like type 2 diabetes, cancer, oxidative stress and cardiovascular disease, as well as protecting LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) from oxidation [3].

What are the health benefits of olive oil?

We've already touched on some of the health benefits of including olive oil in your diet — but there's more:

It can protect against heart disease

Olive oil is rich in healthful compounds, including monounsaturated fatty acids, oleuropein, and polyphenols (a type of antioxidant).

Thanks to these compounds, it protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation [4] and prevents atherosclerosis (the thickening of the arteries due to built-up fats, cholesterol and other substances).

It also helps to lower blood pressure, with one study showing that consuming olive oil reduces the need for blood pressure medications by 48% [5].

Additionally, a study comparing olive oil intake and stroke incidence found that those who consumed the highest amounts had a 41% lower risk of having a stroke [6].

It may lower your risk of type 2 diabetes

Extra virgin olive oil contains phenolic compounds that support glucose metabolism and improve insulin sensitivity, and research suggests that including it as part of your daily diet can decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 13% [7].

Another randomised clinical trial done in 418 healthy people confirmed these benefits and found the Mediterranean diet to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by over 40% [8].

It may improve your brain function

The same phenolic compounds that improve insulin sensitivity can be beneficial to your brain health, particularly by clearing the compounds that lead to brain degeneration.

As a result, olive oil could reduce the risk of Alzheimer's and age-related dementia. Although more studies are needed to confirm this, the initial research is promising.

It reduces inflammation

Antioxidants are key for easing inflammation.

One of the antioxidants present in virgin and extra virgin olive oil in particular — oleocanthal — is such a powerful anti-inflammatory that its benefits have been compared to those of Ibuprofen [9].

Oleic acid can also help lower inflammation and some studies suggest that it may help prevent cancer [10][11] — which might explain why the incidence of cancer is lower in Mediterranean countries [12].

It could help you live longer

Big claim, we know, but with all the health benefits we just listed, it's easy to understand how consuming olive oil could contribute to better longevity.

In fact, a large study that followed over 400,000 Spanish people over 13.5 years found that those who consumed the most olive oil were less likely to die early than those who consumed the least amount [13].

Is olive oil good for weight loss?

Now, for the question that brought you to this article: could olive oil help you lose weight?

And for the good news: EVOO has been proven to support weight loss when consumed as part of a balanced, healthy diet.

This is largely thanks to the monounsaturated fatty acids it contains, which are better for healthy weight maintenance than saturated fat [14].

It's also thanks to its oleic acid, which is a powerful appetite suppressant, meaning it can prevent you from overeating and snacking between meals and consequently gaining weight [15].

You may also hear some people claim that olive oil massages can help with weight loss, but there's no research to confirm this.

Of course, olive oil — and nutrition as a whole — is only one piece of the weight loss puzzle and there are several other components to consider, including exercise, sleep, and stress levels.

But you don't have to navigate through this all by yourself. If you need a bit of extra guidance kickstarting your weight loss journey, Juniper's Weight Reset Program might be just what you're looking for.

Designed by Australian health practitioners and dietitians, this program combines medically proven treatments with personal, one-on-one support from a health coach who will provide you with expert advice and keep you accountable.

The result? Healthy habits that stick for life and weight loss you can actually maintain in the long run.

Daily shot of olive oil for weight loss: Does it work?

If you've been doing your research on the health benefits of olive oil, you may have come across the trend of having a daily shot of olive oil for weight loss.

But, does it actually work?

According to Dr Mary Flynn, a US nutritionist who's been studying the effects of olive oil for decades, consuming 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil a day can, in fact, be a powerful tool in your weight loss journey [16].

She emphasises, however, that this is only the case if you combine it with a healthy Mediterranean-style diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.

Keep in mind that what works for one person may not work for you, and having a daily olive oil shot doesn't guarantee weight loss success.

If you want to give it a go, it's always a good idea to speak to a dietitian or nutritionist first to understand whether this method is right for you and if so, how to best approach it.

Does olive oil help reduce stomach fat?

First things first, you can't spot reduce fat, so there's no one food (or exercise) that can help you burn belly fat specifically.

Having said that, the monounsaturated fatty acids in olive oil are said to reduce fat storage, particularly around the midsection area [17].

The antioxidants can also help fight inflammation and metabolic stress that could otherwise lead to weight gain and fat accumulation.

So once again, as part of a nutritious diet, olive oil can support your fat-burning efforts.

What is the healthiest type of olive oil?

Olive oil comes in different types, which vary in production method, acidity content, and flavour. If you're wondering which one is the healthiest (and tastiest), the answer is EVOO.

Let's have a look at some of the main types of olive oil in a bit more detail [18]:

  • EVOO: The least processed type of olive oil, EVOO is unrefined, cold-extracted, and mechanically extracted without being exposed to chemicals. EVOO is typically darker in colour and, as the highest quality variety, it has a distinct flavour of olives. It's also considered the best olive oil for those wanting to lose weight and/or watching their cholesterol levels.
  • Virgin olive oil: Slightly lower quality than EVOO, virgin olive oil is also mechanically produced without chemicals or heat. It isn't as readily available so you might not see it on your local grocery store's shelves.
  • Pure olive oil: Also referred to as 'regular olive oil' or simply 'olive oil', this variety undergoes refining processes that use chemicals and/or heat. This means the flavour isn't up to par with the two types mentioned above, and neither are the health benefits.
  • Light olive oil: Don't be fooled by the name — light olive oil isn't a lower-calorie or lower-fat alternative to the varieties above. What makes it 'light' is actually its lighter colour and neutral flavour. Though light olive oil still has some nutritional benefits, it contains refined oil and isn't the healthiest choice.

Can you have olive oil every day?

Absolutely, you can. As long as it fits within your calorie deficit (if you are in one), it's perfectly fine to have olive oil every day.

In fact, a lot of the olive oil benefits we mentioned in this article come from regular consumption of this superfood.

Ways to incorporate olive oil into your diet

We've all used olive oil for sautéing, frying or grilling other foods, but this mighty oil is more versatile than many give it credit for.

If you want to enjoy more olive oil as part of your diet, here are some ideas:

  • Use it as part of a salad dressing. There are countless recipes you can try — honey mustard vinaigrette, Greek salad dressing and basil vinaigrette, to name a few — but something as easy as EVOO mixed with lemon juice, salt, and pepper can take a simple salad to the next level.
  • Serve it on bread. High-quality olive oil can be a great replacement for butter. The fats are healthier and the flavour is unbeatable, so why not give it a try?
  • Mix it in your coffee. Might sound weird at first, but adding a healthy fat to black coffee is actually a common practice in several countries. The olive oil coats the lining of your stomach, which can slow the absorption of the caffeine and prevent that 3PM energy crash we've all experienced before.
  • Make a Greek yoghurt-based dip. Need something to dip your veggies or pita chips in? Mix some EVOO with plain Greek yoghurt, salt, pepper and sriracha for a good dose of protein, fats, and flavour.
  • Drizzle over fruit. Next time you're craving a bowl of fruit, try drizzling a bit of olive oil (and some fresh mint) on top — it's a great way to enhance the sweet, tangy flavours and add some healthy fats to this snack.

Just remember that with olive oil, the calories can easily add up.

We recommend using measuring spoons instead of serving straight from the bottle. It will give you more control and it's also easier to track, in case you use a food diary or app.

Image credit: Getty Images

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