Small yet mighty, olives are a fruit rich in excellent nutrients. They feature on many Mediterranean menus and have long been lauded for their health benefits. What about using olive oil for weight loss, though?
How does olive oil help promote weight loss?
You might read “oil” and instantly think of unhealthy, fried foods. Nevertheless, some types of oil can actually be healthy for you! Olive oil, which is extracted from the fruit of olive trees, is definitely one of these and it’s been consumed for thousands of years in countries like Italy and Greece.
Olives’ chemical make-up and natural abundance of specific nutrients are all thought to contribute to the fruits’ weight-loss powers. Like the sound of shrinking your waistline with olives? Here’s a little science behind the claim.
Olive oil contains “healthy” fat
Just like omega 3 fatty acids can benefit the body, so too can “healthy” monosaturated fats. Olive oil is rich in this type of fat, specifically oleic acid which has long been studied for its useful properties.1
Unlike saturated fat (e.g. animal fats or palm oil), monosaturated fats could help lower cholesterol, reduce risk of heart disease, and make it easier to maintain a healthy weight.2
Olive oil is a source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs)
MCTs have been thoroughly researched for their weight loss benefits, specifically for their ability to be broken down and transferred quickly into energy. Some studies have shown that MCTs can aid with weight loss by encouraging fat burning in the body and by stimulating the production of certain hormones which can suppress the appetite.
Olive oil is packed with antioxidants
Antioxidants are molecules which can aid the body in fighting off free radicals: compounds that harm your cells.4 Olives are rich in antioxidants, notably polyphenols. These are thought to help with healthy digestion and, consequently, allow the body to more efficiently transfer food into energy which you can then burn off.5
Olive oil has anti-inflammatory properties
Chronic inflammation has been linked to several different health conditions, including obesity. Olive oil may help bring down inflammation thanks to its oleic acid content and antioxidants such as oleocanthal.6
How to make use of olive oil for weight loss
As well as possibly helping you maintain a healthy weight, olive oil has a delicious taste and is excellent at enhancing plainer ingredients! If you’re searching for easy ways to include more of this outstanding oil in your diet, why not:
- Use it to create tasty salad dressings, whether that’s a simple balsamic and olive oil vinaigrette or a French mustard dressing
- Stir some into a bowl of wholemeal pasta with grilled vegetables and dried/fresh herbs
- Drizzle your veggies with it before you roast or grill them in the oven
- Add a little to your homemade houmous to add flavour and improve the overall texture
- Make vegan pesto with olive oil, nuts, lemon juice, and fresh basil
Just like any food, it’s always best to enjoy olive oil in moderation. Having too much of anything, however beneficial it is, could quickly become unhealthy. Olive oil, in particular, is relatively high in both fat and calories, so it should only be eaten in small quantities.7
Last updated: 23 March 2021
Author: Bhupesh Panchal
Joined Holland & Barrett: April 2019
Qualifications: Masters Degree in Toxicology, BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry
Bhupesh started his career as a clinical toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products. After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.
Bhupesh specialises in vitamins & minerals nutrition, health benefits & safety of botanicals and traditional herbal medicines.
In his spare time, Bhupesh likes to cycle and has been learning to speak Korean for several years.
Author: Bhupesh Panchal