Chances are that you have a bottle of olive oil reserved for cooking, but drinking this kitchen staple can provide you with the same healthy benefits of this antioxidant-rich wonder — if not more. From a happier digestive system to banishing belly fat, here's why you should start and end every day with a tablespoon of olive oil.
- It helps fight breast cancer: A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine shows that women who followed a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil had a relatively lower risk of breast cancer than those women who followed a Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts or a diet that was lower in fat. If the Mediterranean diet is new to you, start with this guide of which foods to eat when adopting it into your lifestyle. Besides protecting against breast cancer, the diet has also been shown to slow the aging process and reduce the risk of stroke.
- It reduces the risk of heart disease: While it may seem counterintuitive that drinking olive oil can help protect the heart from disease, multiple studies confirm the claim to be true thanks to the MUFAs, or monounsaturated fats, olive oil contains — so much so that the FDA allows manufacturers to label olive oil with this health claim. The FDA recommends consuming just around two tablespoons per day to protect the heart. Just a note that olive oil should replace saturated fats in your diet rather than add to your current calorie intake.
- It encourages weight loss: The same good fats that protect the heart from disease can also aid you in achieving any weight-loss goals you may have. Not only have MUFAs been shown to help the body feel full, but they also target belly fat. Add olive oil to your list of flat-belly foods you should be eating.
- It helps with digestion: While there isn't a lot in the way of scientific research — just a few smaller studies — olive oil is widely (and successfully) used as a homeopathic remedy to help the digestive system and ease symptoms of constipation. Acting as a lubricant of sorts, drinking olive oil is said to help things move along better in the colon.