What happens if you take 2 tablespoons of olive oil a day?

Olive oil has been a staple of the Mediterranean diet for centuries. Rich in healthy monounsaturated fats, antioxidants, and vitamin E, incorporating olive oil into your daily routine can provide some powerful health benefits. But what exactly will happen if you start taking 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of olive oil every day?

You may lower your risk of heart disease and stroke

Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) like oleic acid. MUFAs have been shown to improve blood cholesterol levels and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke (1, 2).

In a major 4.8 year study in over 7,000 adults, those who followed a Mediterranean diet enriched with olive oil or nuts had a 30% lower risk of major cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke compared to a low fat diet (3).

The beneficial effects of olive oil on heart health may be due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Olive oil contains plant compounds like oleocanthal that have been found to have anti-inflammatory effects similar to ibuprofen (4).

Olive oil intake has also been associated with improved endothelial function, which refers to proper blood vessel dilation and blood flow. Impaired endothelial function is an early indicator of cardiovascular disease (5).

Replacing less healthy fats in your diet with olive oil may therefore keep your heart healthy and reduce your risk of cardiovascular events.

You may lower your risk of high blood pressure

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a risk factor for heart disease. Studies suggest that replacing less healthy fats like margarine with olive oil may help reduce high blood pressure.

One study had 41 older adults use 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of olive oil in cooking and in dressings each day. After 6 weeks, systolic blood pressure dropped significantly compared to the control group (6).

Another study had 23 men use either olive oil or sunflower oil as their only dietary fat source. After consuming olive oil for 4 weeks, they had significantly lower daytime and 24-hour blood pressure compared to sunflower oil (7).

The beneficial effects of olive oil on blood pressure are likely due to its high concentration of polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties that may help relax blood vessels (8).

You may lower your risk of type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a major health problem, affecting over 400 million adults worldwide (9). Many studies have found that olive oil may help reduce your risk.

A large analysis of 42 studies with over 29,000 participants found that a higher intake of olive oil was associated with an 18% lower risk of type 2 diabetes. For each 10 grams of olive oil consumed per day, the risk of diabetes dropped by 7% (10).

Another study had over 418 healthy adults supplement with either olive oil or corn oil. The olive oil group had significantly lower fasting insulin levels, which may lead to a reduced risk of diabetes (11).

It’s believed that the anti-inflammatory effects of olive oil’s antioxidants, as well as its ability to stabilize blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity, may benefit diabetes prevention (12).

You may experience anti-inflammatory effects

Chronic inflammation is believed to be the underlying cause of many common diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer (13).

Several studies have found that olive oil may fight inflammation due to its high concentration of beneficial plant compounds.

Oleocanthal, the main anti-inflammatory compound in olive oil, has been shown to have a potency similar to the anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen (4).

One study gave 11 men 50 ml (about 3.4 tablespoons) of olive oil with a high or low oleocanthal content. The high oleocanthal olive oil decreased harmful LDL cholesterol oxidation, which may play a key role in heart disease (14).

Another study found markers of inflammation in the blood were reduced after older adults consumed 25 ml (about 1.7 tablespoons) of olive oil daily for 6 weeks (15).

The wide array of antioxidants in olive oil, including oleocanthal and oleuropein, are thought to be responsible for its anti-inflammatory effects.

You may experience anticancer effects

Olive oil intake has been linked to a lower risk of certain cancers like breast and digestive system cancers (16, 17).

One study followed over 60,000 women for 5 years and found that consuming olive oil was associated with a 68% lower risk of developing breast cancer (18).

It’s believed that the anticancer effects of olive oil are caused by its beneficial compounds like oleic acid and squalene, in addition to its antioxidants. These compounds may fight oxidative damage from free radicals while also suppressing cancer cell growth (19).

While more research is needed on the exact effects of olive oil on different cancer types, adding some to your diet may help reduce your risk of developing certain cancers.

You may improve blood cholesterol levels

High LDL (bad) cholesterol levels are a major risk factor for heart disease. Olive oil may help improve blood cholesterol levels.

In one study, 182 healthy adults consumed 25 ml (1.7 tablespoons) of olive oil daily for 3 weeks. Total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol decreased, while HDL (good) cholesterol increased, compared to the control group (20).

Another study found similar results, with olive oil lowering LDL while increasing HDL, compared to safflower oil (21).

It’s believed that the cholesterol-lowering effects of olive oil are caused by its concentration of polyphenols, which may increase HDL cholesterol while lowering oxidized LDL particles (22).

Replacing less healthy fats with olive oil can help improve cholesterol levels, potentially lowering your risk of heart disease.

You may lose excess body fat

A higher intake of olive oil may promote weight loss and boost fat loss.

A study had overweight people follow a Mediterranean diet enriched with olive oil for 2 years. The olive oil group lost more weight than the control group, as well as lost more body fat (23).

In another study, overweight men consumed 20 grams of olive oil at breakfast. After 12 weeks, the olive oil group had a significant increase in blood levels of serotonin, a hormone associated with satiety that may promote fat loss (24).

The high MUFA content of olive oil may increase metabolism, decrease fat cell formation and promote fat burning compared to more saturated fats (25, 26, 27).

Replacing some less healthy fats with olive oil in your diet can promote fat loss, especially around your belly.

You may improve digestive health

Olive oil may benefit your digestive system in several ways.

It has been used to treat constipation, stomach ulcers and gallstones. Studies even suggest it may benefit those with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease (28).

Olive oil may also combat inflammation in the digestive tract. One study showed it reduced gut inflammation in mice by activating a protein called GPR120, which promotes anti-inflammatory processes (29).

The antioxidants in olive oil, especially oleuropein, also seem to have a protective effect against oxidative damage in the digestive system (30).

Replacing other dietary fats with olive oil may improve digestive health and reduce gut inflammation.

You may have improved brain health

A higher intake of olive oil may prevent brain function decline and protect against memory loss.

One study of over 200 older adults found memory decline occurred much slower in those with a higher olive oil intake. After 6.5 years, they scored 85% higher on cognitive tests than those with lower intakes (31).

Another study had Alzheimer’s disease patients consume olive oil along with a Mediterranean diet for 6 months. Their memory, verbal fluency and visual memory improved significantly (32).

Olive oil seems to improve brain function by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. Its antioxidants protect mitochondria in brain cells from damage, which has been linked to dementia (33, 34).

Adding olive oil to your diet may prevent age-related memory loss and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

You may live longer

Research has shown that olive oil may promote longevity and boost overall health in old age.

One study involved 182 European adults over age 65. After 5 years, those who consumed the highest amount of olive oil were 48% less likely to die from any cause, compared to those with the lowest intake (35).

Another study followed over 400 elderly Spanish adults for 6.5 years. Those who ate a Mediterranean diet with added olive oil had a 44% lower risk of death compared to a low fat diet (36).

A Mediterranean diet enriched with olive oil was also linked to lower risks of death in those with heart disease. Over 7000 heart disease patients who followed this diet had a 50-56% lower risk of dying from heart disease or death from any cause (37, 38).

Adding olive oil to your diet, especially as part of a Mediterranean diet, may protect health in old age, potentially extending lifespan.

The most important thing…

The most important health benefit of olive oil is likely its ability to lower your risk of developing chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s.

Replacing less healthy fats with olive oil can improve cholesterol levels and markers of inflammation. It can stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels, potentially reducing your risk of diabetes.

Olive oil intake can also fight oxidative damage associated with aging and cancer. Its antioxidants protect cells in your heart, brain and digestive system from free radicals.

The combination of olive oil’s powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties provides numerous benefits for overall health.

By simply adding 2 tablespoons (30 ml) per day to your current diet, you can take advantage of olive oil’s many proven health benefits.


Adding 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of olive oil to your daily diet may have significant benefits for your heart, brain, digestive system and more.

Olive oil lowers heart disease risk by improving blood cholesterol levels, lowering blood pressure and preventing excessive inflammation and oxidative damage.

It seems to fight cancer by reducing oxidative damage and suppressing cancer cell growth. Olive oil intake is also associated with lower risks of type 2 diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

What’s more, olive oil may promote fat loss, especially around your middle. Its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds provide benefits for overall health.

Including olive oil in your diet is an easy way to prevent major health problems and promote longevity.

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