What Are the Benefits of Olive Oil for Digestion?

You have likely heard that olive oil is one of the healthiest oil choices for cooking and eating. Olive oil is high in fat, but the majority of it is heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, according to the American Heart Association. Choosing olive oil over less healthy fats, such as butter, may benefit your heart and lower your cholesterol level. As if these benefits were not enough, olive oil may also contribute to healthy digestion.

bottle of organic olive oil (Image: Inácio Pires/Hemera/Getty Images)

Encourages Peptide Production

olive oil beside a salad (Image: zeleno/iStock/Getty Images)

Once you swallow your food, your body takes over by secreting acids and other compounds that help break down the food and transports the nutrients it contains throughout your body. According to M. Carmen Ramirez-Tortosa and Parveen Yaqoob, authors of "Olive Oil and Health," olive oil encourages the production of peptides, which support healthy digestion and aid in nutrient absorption. Regular consumption of olive oil will keep your gut working efficiently by taking what it needs for good health and eliminating the rest in your waste.

Reduces Reflux

two bottles of organic olive oil (Image: juan ignacio laboa/iStock/Getty Images)

Eating quickly, as well as eating high-fat foods, can cause gastric reflux, or heartburn. Heartburn is characterized by a burning sensation in your stomach, throat or esophagus due to a high concentration of acid from your body attempting to digest these unhealthy types of food. A study published in the 2004 issue of "Gracas y Aceites," a journal that focuses on the roles of fat and oils in the human diet, notes in that olive oil may reduce the secretion of gastric acid. Olive oil may can then calm and prevent gastric reflux, which means less acid comes back up. Olive oil is also digested more slowly so you may eat less and more slowly, which helps prevent reflux as well.

Supports the Pancreas

spoonful of olive oil (Image: Inácio Pires/Hemera/Getty Images)

Your pancreas is often an overlooked part of the digestive system, but it is essential for hormone production and for producing enzymes the small intestine needs to digest your food. Olive oil is particularly beneficial to your pancreas because it only requires your pancreas to produce a small amount of digestive enzymes, which means that it is working less, reports the before mentioned study in "Gracas y Aceites." This benefits your pancreas by keeping it strong and healthy. The June 2000 issue of the "Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health" adds that olive oil may also offer protection from pancreatic cancer.

Supports Healthy Intestines

fresh olive oil (Image: Liv Friis-Larsen/iStock/Getty Images)

Your large and small intestines are essential for digesting your food and getting the nutrients throughout your body. Eating olive oil in place of less healthy oils can improve the efficiency of your intestines. Olive oil also encourages your intestines to absorb more of the vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat, which makes it beneficial for individuals suffering from digestive disorders, reports the 2004 study in "Gracas y Aceites."

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