Olive oil has become a staple ingredient in kitchens around the globe. Its health benefits include being rich in monounsaturated fats, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
But did you know that olive oil also has side effects? Some studies suggest that consuming too much olive oil can cause heartburn, indigestion, constipation, headaches, migraines, nausea, diarrhea, and even depression.
In this article, we will cover the side effects of olive oil in detail.
Side effects of olive oil
Some major side effects of olive oil are as follows
1. May Causes Acne
Olive oil is very good for you; however, too much of it can cause acne. If you want to use olive oil for beauty purposes, make sure you are using the right amount. Too much of it can clog pores and cause breakouts. You don’t want that.
2. May Cause Allergies
Olive oil contains many different compounds, including oleic acid, linoleic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, myristic acid, arachidonic acid, lignoceric acid, and others. These components are what make up the fat molecules found in olive oil. Some of these components can cause a person to develop an allergy.
In fact, some people react to certain types of fats while others do not. For example, some people are sensitive to omega-6 fatty acids, whereas others are not. Omega-3 fatty acids are another type of fat molecule that can cause reactions in some individuals.
If you suffer from food allergies, it is important to avoid foods that contain ingredients that could potentially trigger an allergic response. This includes olive oil because it contains multiple types of fatty acids.
If you are concerned about developing an allergy to olive oil, there are ways to reduce your risk. One way is to eat less olive oil. Another option is to use olive oil sparingly and consume it in small amounts over time. You can also try using olive oil as a cooking ingredient rather than consuming it straight out of the bottle.
3. Not Safe On A Baby’s Skin
Olive oil should never be applied to babies’ skin. It contains high levels of oleic acid, which can cause irritation and even burns. Coconut oil is much safer because it doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals. In fact, coconut oil is one of the best oils you can use for baby care.
4. Is Not Suitable For Dry Skin
Olive oil is one of the most popular oils used throughout history. Its popularity continues today, especially among those seeking natural beauty remedies. However, there are some health risks associated with it, including causing dry skin.
According to Dr. Michael Greger, MD, director of public health and nutrition at the Nutrition Institute at the University of California, Davis, olive oil contains oleic acid, which dries out the skin. This makes sense because oleic acid is found in many types of fats, including butter, lard, tallow, and coconut oil.
In fact, studies show that oleic acid causes the skin to become drier over time. In one study, researchers applied different concentrations of oleic acid to human volunteers’ forearms. They found that the concentration of oleic acid increased the amount of water loss from the skin surface. Another study showed that oleic acid caused the skin barrier function to decrease.
Some experts recommend avoiding olive oil altogether for people with dry skin. Others say that using olive oil won’t harm anyone, but it might make the skin feel less moisturized. If you’re concerned about how olive oil affects your skin, talk to your doctor or dermatologist.
5. Can Cause Blackheads
Olive oil is one of those things we just can’t live without. Whether it’s used for cooking, salad dressings, marinades, dips, spreads, etc., olive oil is everywhere.
But did you know that olive oil can cause blackheads? Yes, it really does. If you use a lot of olive oil, you might notice some dark spots on your face. These are called blackheads.
They’re caused by clogged pores, bacteria, dead skin cells, dirt, and sweat. Bacteria feed on the oils produced by our sebaceous glands. When there isn’t enough oil to keep out the bacteria, it starts growing inside the pore. This causes inflammation and eventually leads to blackheads.
If you want to eliminate blackheads, try avoiding the consumption of too much oil. You don’t want to overdo it because excess oil can make your skin look greasy. Also, avoid touching your face while applying oil. Oil dries out the skin and makes it even more prone to breakouts. Instead, apply a small amount of oil to dampen your skin. Then massage gently into your skin. Letting the oil soak in for about five minutes is usually sufficient. Afterward, wash off with warm water.
6. May Cause Saturated Fat-Related Diseases
Olive oil is very rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which are good sources of Omega 3 and Omega 9 essential fatty acids. They protect against heart disease and cancer. However, there’s a drawback too. Polyunsaturated fats are susceptible to oxidation which leads to rancidity.
This happens especially during cooking, storage, transport and processing. Oxidized oils are associated with many diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, dementia, rheumatoid arthritis, and even some types of cancers.
The best way to avoid oxidized oils is to buy extra virgin olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is produced without heat treatment. Heat treatments cause changes in the chemical composition of the oil and it loses most of its nutritional value.
7. Trans-Fat Related Diseases
Olive oil is often refined or partially hydrogenated under heat and pressure.
Trans fats are known to increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as coronary artery disease and stroke. They are found in baked goods, fried foods, fast food restaurants, snack bars, and many packaged foods. Trans fats are solid at room temperature and are used to help make margarine and shortening spreadable.
These fats are usually hydrogenated vegetable oils. Hydrogenation changes unsaturated fatty acids into saturated ones. This process makes it possible to add longer chains of carbon atoms to the molecules. In addition, trans fats raise LDL cholesterol levels while lowering HDL cholesterol levels.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting intake of partially hydrogenated oils because they contain high amounts of trans fat. For people who want to reduce their consumption of trans fat, there are several ways to do it. One way is to switch to liquid vegetable shortenings or stick margarines.
Another option is to use low-fat spreads, like butter or cream cheese. If you must eat some deep-fried foods, try to limit yourself to one serving per week. You could also choose to avoid eating foods containing trans fats altogether.
8. Lowers Blood Sugar
Olive Oil contains monounsaturated fatty acids, which are known to lower blood sugar. Monounsaturated fats are found in avocados, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, peanuts, pistachios, sesame seeds, walnuts and many types of fish. They are considered heart healthy because they reduce LDL (bad cholesterol), increase HDL (good cholesterol) and decrease triglycerides. Olive oil is rich in antioxidants, such as polyphenols, which protect against damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that cause cell damage and lead to diseases like cancer.
In one study conducted at the University of California, Davis, researchers gave participants either extra virgin olive oil or corn oil daily for eight weeks. After four weeks, those who consumed olive oil had significantly decreased fasting insulin levels, compared to those who took corn oil. In addition, the group taking olive oil showed significant decreases in total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
The researchers concluded that “a diet high in olive oil could potentially prevent type 2 diabetes.”
Another study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food looked at how olive oil affected people with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic Syndrome occurs when there are three out of five risk factors including obesity, high blood pressure, abnormal glucose metabolism and high cholesterol.
People with metabolic syndrome are at increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, stroke and Type II Diabetes. Researchers divided subjects into two groups; one received olive oil while the other group ate margarine. After six months, the olive oil group showed improvements in body mass index, waist circumference, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, plasma lipid profiles, serum adiponectin and leptin concentrations.
A third study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined whether olive oil improved insulin sensitivity in overweight adults. Participants were randomly assigned to take either olive oil or sunflower oil twice a day for 12 weeks. At the end of the trial period, both groups experienced similar reductions in body fat percentage, BMI and waist circumference. However, the olive oil group saw significant increases in insulin sensitivity.
Researchers conclude that “regular consumption of olive oil may improve insulin sensitivity in obese individuals.”
Although olive oil is good for people with diabetes and lowers blood sugar level, it is important to consume olive oil moderately as otherwise it may drop blood sugar below the normal range and cause symptoms like fast heartbeat, shaking, dizziness, and irritability etc. If you take diabetic medication, then talk to your doctor before using olive oil and esure theres no food-drug intolerance.
9. Lowers Blood Pressure
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats — those are the healthy fats that help lower cholesterol levels. A study published in the journal Nutrition found people who consumed extra virgin olive oil had lower systolic blood pressure than those who didn’t eat it. Systolic blood pressure measures how hard your heart pumps against your arteries. Lowering it helps prevent cardiovascular disease.
The researchers followed over 400 adults for three months. They measured participants’ blood pressure, body mass index (a measure of weight), waist circumference, and dietary habits. Then, they compared participants’ blood pressure again after they ate either one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil daily or no extra virgin olive oil. After 3 months, the group consuming olive oil had lower sytolic blood pressures than the control group.
A 2017 review of scientific literature concluded that regular consumption of olive oil could reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as coronary artery disease, hypertension, and stroke. This is because olive oil contains antioxidants called polyphenols, which help protect cells from free radicals. Free radicals cause inflammation and cell damage. Inflammation is linked to atherosclerosis, a buildup of plaque inside our arteries.
Although olive oil is good for keeping blood pressure under control, it is advised to use olive oil wisely as overconsumption may drop the blood pressure below the healthy range and cause symptoms like dizziness, nausea, fainting, dehydration, blurred vision, and poor concentration, etc.
If you take blood pressure medication, then talk to your doctor before taking olive oil to ensure there’s no food-drug intolerance.
10. Risk of Gallbladder Stones/Blockage
Olive oil contains an acid called Oleic acid, which increases Cholesterol Levels.
When you eat foods containing high amount of fat, it gets converted into triglycerides. These are stored in the liver and form VLDL particles. When there is no food intake, these triglycerides are broken down into fatty acids and glycerol. This process is known as lipolysis.
In case of excess dietary fats, some of the fatty acids remain unbroken and enter the bloodstream. They are carried by chylomicrons and reach the small intestine where they are absorbed by intestinal cells. Thereafter, they pass through lymphatic system and finally reach the liver. Here, they are metabolized and converted into ketones. If the conversion does not happen properly, the fatty acids accumulate in the hepatocytes forming lipid droplets. Lipid droplet accumulation leads to the development of hepatic steatosis.
A buildup of lipid droplets inside the cell causes inflammation and necrosis. As a result, the cell undergoes apoptosis and necrosis leading to the formation of microlithiasis. Microliths present in the bile ducts block the flow of bile and cause pain.
The gall bladder stores bile produced by liver. Bile helps in digestion of fats and emulsification of fats. Bile salts help in absorption of water soluble vitamins like vitamin K2, vitamin D3, calcium, magnesium etc. Gall stones develop due to the presence of large amounts of cholesterol in the gall bladder.
High level of cholesterol in the body leads to increased synthesis of cholesterol in the liver. Excess cholesterol is deposited in the walls of blood vessels causing atherosclerosis. Atherosclerotic plaque builds up gradually over a period of time and eventually ruptures leading to thrombosis. Thrombus blocks the blood vessel and reduces supply of oxygen and nutrients to vital organs.
11. Can Cause Diarrhea
Olive oil is one of those foods you either love or hate. If you are a fan, you know how delicious it tastes. But if you’re like me, you probably avoid it because of what it does to your body. In fact, there are many reasons why people shouldn’t consume olive oil. For example, it contains a high amount of calories and fats, making it difficult to digest and causing bloating. Also, consuming too much olive oil may lead to diarrhea.
In addition, it is recommended that you limit yourself to three tablespoons per day. This is just enough to cover your daily caloric needs.
In conclusion, olive oil is full of nutrients and provide many benefits. But you need to be careful and ensure that you use it in moderation. Otherwise, it could cause some of the side effects explained in this article.
Bharat Sharma is a Delhi-based writer who loves reading and writing research-based topics revolving around health, fitness, and nutrition. His love for writing started during his teenage and continues till date. After his graduation, he worked for GE Money, and IBM, but later found his true love i.e. blogging.