Is Drinking Olive Oil Healthy?

In Cities and the Wealth of Nations, Jane Jacobs wrote about an isolated North Carolina hamlet that her aunt visited in 1923:

One of my aunt’s tasks there was to see to construction of a church. . . One of the farmers donated, as a site, a beautiful knoll beside the river and my aunt suggested the building be made of fine large stones which were already quarried, as it were, needing little dressing, there for the taking in the creek and river beds. No, said the community elders, it was a pretty idea but not possible. . . . Entire walls and buildings of stone would not be safe.

These people came of a parent culture that had not only reared stone parish churches from time immemorial, but great cathedrals.

Likewise, nutritional wisdom is forgotten. Drinking olive oil now seems absurd to some people. But it was practiced in at least one place in the not-so-distant past:

In a mountain village in Crete, [Ancel] Keys saw old farmers working in the field who drank only a glass of olive oil for breakfast; he later verified that one of them was 106 years old.

From Todd Tucker, The Great Starvation Experiment, p. 204. There is a whole organization (Oldways) devoted to preserving ancient foodways and using them for nutritional guidance. The best practitioner of this approach has been Dr. Weston Price, a dentist, whose work is nicely summarized here. Dr. Price traveled the world looking for economically-primitive societies (“native peoples”) with ancient eating habits and excellent health. Their diets, especially the common elements, would suggest what a healthy diet must have.

Two of Dr. Price’s conclusions are relevant to the Shangri-La Diet:

1. “All native peoples studied made great efforts to obtain seafood.” This supports my comments about the importance of omega-3 fats, found much more in seafood than in other foods.

2. “The last major feature of native diets that Price found was that they were rich in fat, especially animal fat.” The animal fat in native diets would be high in omega-3 because the animals were eating grasses and other plants, not corn.

When I wrote my long paper on self-experimentation I divided it into two parts: one titled “Stone-Age Life Suits Us” (the common thread of the five examples), the other about weight control (the research behind SLD). The two parts struck me as quite different. Drinking sugar water to lose weight was definitely not a return to a Stone-Age lifestyle. But the big improvements in SLD since I wrote that paper — from sugar water to ELOO, and from ELOO to oils high in omega-3 — brought SLD much closer to the Stone-Age-Life-Suits-Us theme, I now see.

46 Replies to “Is Drinking Olive Oil Healthy?”

  1. Im currently taking 100ml each day, hopefully to get my HDL cholesterol up from 80% to over 100% it fell from 90%, I am sure that was because I was eating less fish.

    First thing I noticed I do not feel so hungry.
    Second, it took about 20 days before I began to like it.
    Third, ever since I have been taking Olive Oil my bogey drops are a lot cleaner, honest before that sometime I would think I would need a whole roll of toilet paper before I was happy, now I just need two lots of toilet paper, one to clean up and to make sure it is clean.

    Have you ever heard of the joke
    “How do you cook toilet paper?”
    Brown it on one side then throw it in the pan.

    well now I hardly ever get any “Browning”

    I only hope my next blood test shows up good results.

  2. i am severely anemic and need to take iron supplements. also i am 40 years old and began to notice the beginning of arthritis in my hands.
    my aunt ruby who is 87 years old suggested drinking olive oil for the bowel movement issue (iron causes constipation). so i read up on it and learned the benefits to joints and minimizing inflammation.
    i have been drink about 10 to 12 oz every day now for about two weeeks and feel great. i agree with the toilet paper entry, great side effect.
    so, i highly recommend it.
    the trick is to have a glass of water handy and drink the water immediately after you swallow the oil, sometimes even same mouth full. this is how i do it and i have not any problem.
    also, do not drink after too much food is in your tummy, you will get sick.
    it is best on an empty stomach., and you will not be hungry for hours.

  3. so Google tells me 1 US fluid ounce = 29.5735296 ml.
    so that would be a big cup full, at 250ml per cup.

    One other thing, before I started to drank Olive Oil I used to rip my skin all the time, & was always catching my finger or hand at work on something, in fact I used /(still do) keep a couple of plasters in my wallet, I frequently had a plaster on my hand or finger, but now I dont in the three months or so I have been drinking Oliver Oil.

    In fact a google search on “drinking olive oil” tells you on one of the web site (somewhere).

  4. ….whoops……sorry to be back so soon.

    There seems to be a terrible misconception that once you start drinking olive oil you will spend a lot of time in the “Bog House” getting rid of “bogeys”, I found there is no truth in this claim at all or maybe I was not constipated to start with, so I am very sure I dont take any extra trips to the bog house since I started drinking Olive Oil, so dont drink it thinking it is a horrible tasting laxative (or you might be disappoint?)

    This just about completes my range of entries on the subject of “drinking Olive Oil” apart from go for “extra virgin” and buy it in tins or very dark bottles (it goes off with exposer to light)

  5. OK so a tell a little fib now and again (I am back again to say more)

    ………. and the joke is on me, helped by google. And Doc Martin (UK TV series) is right, dont practice to be a rogue doctor from what you read on internet.

    I plugged into google “increase HDL cholesterol” and up popped a few articles, like Olive Oil & a lady who drink 250 mL (a glass) of Olive oil everyday, and some other study . So a gave 100mL a go for the past six months.

    So a couple of weeks ago I went to see the doctor on another problem and asked him nicely if I could have a early blood test, I got the results today and I dont think Olive Oil has offered anything like a miracle cure to increase the good HDL cholesterol.

    However there is a interesting tread on my Triglyceride less than half (not too sure if that is due to Olive Oil or not) as in the past month or so I got the huff with lunch bars and I dont got there any more for my work lunch.

    Blood test results
    13 December test result, name of variable, 26 April test result, (ideal).
    0.9*, HDL cholesterol (good), 0.8**, (>1.0)
    3.0*, LDL cholesterol (bad), 1.9, (<3.0)
    1.4, Triglyceride, 3.8**, (<2.0).

    I wonder how my next test comes out like in a year or so from now.
    ………… I hope this works

  6. How are you doing, Eric? I am going to start olive oil diet and I am a bit scared 🙂 I would like to read more about others’ experience.

  7. Hi Eva, I gave it up (drinking Olive Oil) and lost the 2Kg I put on when I first started drinking it. My doctor told me to have “evening primrose oil” 1000mg *4 tablets (even thou the instructions says 3*tablets.

  8. I’ve tried it a couple of times and I find it hard to swallow. I can only take a small amount like 25ml any more and I puke.

  9. I have been taking extra light olive oil (ELOO) for the Shangri-La Diet lately – 4 T per day, all at once. (At other times I have taken it 2 T, 2x/day) When I take it by itself, I feel queasy for a while.

    I found this tip on the SLD forum and have tried it for the past couple of days. I take it with some milk. The details:

    Pinch nose shut. Drink 4 T ELOO. Drink small cup (about 4 oz) of milk. Drink some water to rinse everything out of mouth. Unpinch nose.

    The ELOO is in my tummy, my taste buds never knew about it, and I don’t feel queasy.

    Too early to report how this affects the appetite suppression.

  10. I found the best way. Pour oil into shot glass and tip a few drips of lemon juice (preferably cold). The lemon juice stays to the bottom and doesn’t mix. When you drink it all you taste is the lemon juice.

  11. i am thinking of trying the olive oil thing, i have a huge appetite ad i would like to control it any suggestions

  12. An update: I went back to taking my ELOO 2T, 2x/day. I pinch my nose and drink some water to rinse my mouth. No milk now. I am not feeling an queasiness. So I conclude that 4T of ELOO is too much for my tummy all at once.

  13. Would like to know if taking Extra virgin olive oil helps stomach ulcers. How much should I take and how often. Have tried everything! Thanks so much!

  14. Joanne, I doubt EVOO helps stomach ulcers. I suggest you try some fermented foods, such as yogurt or kombucha. See my blog for many posts about fermented foods.

  15. I have been drinking Olive Oil for a couple of years now and I have definitely felt and seen the health nefeits. My throat and nose are clean and free now, my skin is more supple, my hair is more curly, my whole digestive tract is much smoother.

    I used to smoke tobacco and Marihuana, which gave me a constant clogged up nose and thick unyielding mucus membranes.

    All the negative side effects of smoking have disappeared. I drink a few sips of Olive Oil in the morning on an empty stomach. And during the day I sometimes drink a few swigs. Olive oil dissolves non-water-soluble substances that are ‘stuck’ in your mucus.

    I havent needed to go to the doctor for twenty-some years now and a physician friend of mine has checked me up and said I have no signs of deterioration due to smoking. Even the normal physical deterioration due to my age of 41 years are less than expected, he said.

    I have to add that I am a vegetarian now for twenty odd years and the beneficial effects of this diet are aplenty.
    Stay away from sugar, tobacco, unnatural drugs and medicine, eat meat only sparsely; like we used to do in times before.Dose up on vegetables, fruits and raw foods, eat anti-oxidant rich foods.
    You’ll live the longer for it and much healthier. And therefor happier.

  16. Hi,

    My relative suffered from constant asthma. She drank about a teaspoon of olive oil everyday and has been drinking for about 12 years now and her asthma is completely better…not a single asthma attack!

  17. Hi!
    I just tried to swallow 150ml olive oil and it went down alright – lovely flavour, hasn’t it?! 🙂 but a few moments later I was so sick! I think my stomach has to get used to digesting over 1000cals all at once…

  18. I heard of a diet that consisted of taking a tablespoon of safflower oil after eating. This women who did it lost much weight. I wonder if it would be better to substitute olive oil?

  19. I add a few tbsp’s of extra virgin olive oil to my protein smoothie and this actually calms my large appetite for several hours and I feel full & satisfied. My protein smoothie consists of: 1 Scoopy of Vanilla Whey protein powder, 1/2 cup fat-free milk, and any kind of fruit you desire (bananna, peaches, blueberries). Add a few ice cubes and mix in a blender. The olive oil really enhances the flavor.

  20. Hi,
    i have been thinking of drinking Olive Oil for sometime as a friend is a regular at it now. I was waiting for a free day as I was worried that I would feel sick and did not want to throw up in front of my students in the iddle of the class(I am a tutor at University). But I had to dare it one day and I wake this morning and had my first taste of it, one tea spoon (slightly bigger actually). What feeling, yuck, the moment it went inside my system I felt, awww!!!. I ran to the bathroom thinking that I will vomit, but i didn’t. I picked up the toothbrush and started brushing and the good smell of toothpaste helped. I just finished my class and I am feeling better. Not even the thought of throwing up came when I was in the class. Sure I am determined to take it regularly from now on. For those who are just thinking of starting, my suggestion is don’t straight away for a 100ml or something. Start with a tea spoon, let your body get used to it and then slowly increase your dose. Fingers crossed, it will be beneficial.

    Also, I need a suggestion from someone. My 3 year old son has just been potentially diagnosed with Asthma (tests awaited). I read above that someone had a positive affect on Asthma after drinking Olive Oil. I was wondering how can I give it to such a little boy. I know he will throw up in dislike and will never take it again. Please share any ideas or experiences.

  21. I am glad I found this page! I am a thin guy, and for the past few weeks I found I had no appetite, and I was losing weight and it was scary! I am too skinny to lose more weight. Someone suggested I am not getting enough fat in my system. I replied that I simply can’t eat enough to gain any weight. Then they suggested drinking olive oil!! I have only been drinking it (1-2 shot glasses per day) for about a week, and I’m already noticing positive results!
    Is it bad for your heart though? I think I may have heart problems, and I don’t want to be having a heart attack!

  22. Hiya,
    I was wondering if any amount of olive oil a day matters. Most people are saying they intake 100ml-150ml… So would a tablespoon be enough? I just drank it about 20 minutes ago and it was HORRIBLE! I drank it and then quickly washed it down with water. I still felt rather sick! My head kind of hurts because I keep thinking about how strange it felt! After reading all of this and understanding how everyone else drank it, I can hopefully drink it with ease tomorrow!
    Shariq, try mixing it with milk or juice? He wouldn’t even notice!
    Riley, I’m no doctor so I am not 100% sure, but probably not. All these other people are taking it and they seem fine! (other than disgusted from the taste!)

  23. From my experience coming from a mediterenian country and cooking with nothing but with extra virgin olive oil and drinking it every morning in an empty stomach its health benefits are apparent from with in and out.
    mentioning a few below:
    one looks younger then the actual age,your joints are always strong,one doesnt feel tired,no backache,no constipation,and the sexual stamina is there always even if you are making love daily:),again this is from my own experience and definitely it will benefit any1 regardless of race and place.
    Be a doctor to yourself with natural ways,come in south east europe and see the men who consume it glowing and full of vitality regardless of age.
    One doesnt need to drink it like watter, mind you that,best is moderation,our tradition is 2 to 3 tablespoons every morning,some take it 1 tbspoon morning and 1 evening,i know one old folk 117 years old doing this all her life and is walking and talking as if she is a healthy 60 years old.what more one can say abt this elixir of longevity.
    i hope every1 will make use of this God bleesed elixir and be healthy.
    Best Regards
    Olive man

  24. I’m trying 2 tablespoons daily as per a Mediteranean diet I read on the
    internet. I mix it with 8 oz of Simply Orange orange juice in my
    Magic Bullet. I do 1 tablespoon in the AM and 1 during the day. No
    weight gain yet. Labs won’t happen for another 6 months or so.
    I can’t really taste it in the o.j. (Use extra virgin. It is the best for you.)


  25. I have been eating foods prepared with olive oil from childhood-I am now 55, getting older, etc. I began taking 1 teaspoon per day and still use olive oil with food as a rule. I was having trouble sleeping and a few aches (I’m sure arthritis with age) but since I have added the extra teaspoon orally on a daily basis I sleep like a baby, my aches are dissipating and my hair & skin are fabulous. Even though they say it is good to put on your hair & skin taken internally is far more nourishing to your entire body.

  26. Anyone ever considered tying the olive oil capsule? its a lot better than the trauma of the oily taste in the mouth.

  27. I have a girlfriend who takes a couple of teaspoons of olive oil each morning for one reason only – her hair. And I must say the “proof is in the pudding”, as she has a beautiful, shiney mane of thick hair. I pour extra virgin olive oil on just about everything, but I never thought of drinking it straight. Will try though, beginning with a teaspoon. I have oodles of bottles of flavored extra virgin olive oils, and I would bet that they are more palatable. Bottoms up!!

  28. I have tried applying olive oil on my skin especially on my face. Wow! my skin is tighter and smoother now. According to studies olive oil helps eliminate wrinkles. You can really see and feel the difference. I also take 1 tbsp. of olive oil first thing in the morning.

  29. I’m gonna mix the olive oil in my smoothies to make it easier to swallow 🙂
    Plus as a late coming burgeoning singer-songwriter, I’m sure it’ll do me extra good more ways than I can imagine 🙂
    I’m happy to find all this good o.O information here 🙂

  30. I think you guys are really overdoing it. For Olive oil just two table-spoons daily is more than enough. And you can add it to anything you eat, so there is nothing to worry about taste. Just purchase the Extra virgin olive oil.

  31. If you will get VIGO (in red) olive oil. It is not extra virgin olive oil. On the label it has VIGO then in smaller print on what looks like a blue ribbon it says IMPORTED. Then under that in red it has 100% Pure. Under that in larger yellow letters it has OLIVE OIL. Under that in smaller white letters it has MILD TASTE. The background of the label is from top to bottom a yellow/gold with a picture of olives (green) at the bottom. On the side it says Product of Italy, Spain and Turkey. VIGO IMPORTING CO. TAMPA, FL. 33614. This olive oil is very mild and very easy to drink. There is no bitter taste at all. I get it in the 17 FL. OZ. size at the Publix grocery store here in Alabama. I hope this will be helpful to some of you that find the olive oil that you are trying to drink hard to deal with. Try this olive oil; I think that you will be pleasantly surprised.

  32. I love EVOO with vinegar, apple and balsamic; always drink the residue from a salad and lemon and olive oil shaken together if I drink it. It’s great tasting
    that way and all are good for your health.

  33. hi guys,
    i started taking olive oil in the morning, empty stomach. I just take 1 tsp and immdtly i eat 2 lives with it . so its going fine. just one week i started taking it, and really am feeling the difference. i had a severe acidity, and i used to take antacids everday before bed. but since i started drinking olive oil , i havn’t taken any atacids, its great!!!!!!:-)

  34. Tried drinking it yesterday – it had peppery taste and not easy to drink. No pleasure!
    Thought I would mix it with Balsamic vinegar and dip bread into it. So that’s what I’m going to try. May come here again and tell you the result (if I ever find this page again!)

  35. its now 2 months since i started using Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I usually drink 1 teaspoon after supper and also apply on my body from face to toe. Its really doing me miracles. I will start taking it on my empty stomac now after reading some of your comments. Thanks

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