Lemon juice and olive oil are ingredients that appear in many of our favorite dishes: spaghetti al limone, lemon chicken and potatoes and more. The flavorful duo is undeniably delicious, and the flavors enhance each other when combined. Now, the pairing is part of a viral TikTok trend in which people combine olive oil and lemon juice into a morning mocktail to enjoy the health-boosting benefits. Here, find out more about olive oil and lemon juice benefits, plus how to whip up your own elixir.
The health benefits of olive oil
Olive oil has a rich history. Cleopatra’s famous golden glow is believed to be a result of bathing in olive oil. The Ancient Greeks viewed the olive as a “sacred fruit,” and the Romans associated olive oil with elite society and consumed the liquid to extend longevity. Dubbed the “golden nectar of the gods,” this rich source of healthy fats and antioxidants has been a coveted commodity for centuries. Today, it remains a staple of the Mediterranean diet. Here’s what makes olive oil so special.
1. Olive oil strengthens bones
Just 1 tsp. of olive oil — specifically, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), which is processed without heat or chemicals — provides an abundance of polyphenols. These natural bioactive compounds have antioxidant properties that promote stronger bones. That’s good news for the 50% of women over 50 at risk of breaking a bone due to osteoporosis, or weak and brittle bones.
A study in Food Research International suggests polyphenols in olive oil help support bone health by keeping bone-weakening oxidative stress in check. What’s more, research published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry suggests that increasing your polyphenol intake has a protective effect on bone mass, resulting in greater strength. This also helps shield against low bone mass (aka osteopenia), the precursor to osteoporosis (Click through for the best foods and exercises to prevent osteoporosis.)
2. Olive oil safeguards your heart
While it’s true that cardiovascular disease is the top cause of death worldwide, folks living in Mediterranean regions have lower rates of mortality from heart disease. One key reason: They regularly consume EVOO as part of their daily diet. In fact, research in Nutrients found the Mediterranean diet rich in healthy fats like olive oil has been linked to the prevention and management of age-associated disease, including cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
“I definitely recommend the Mediterranean diet to my patients,” says Joanna S Troulakis, MD, a cardiologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Medical Group Queens. “It helps maintain a healthy weight and lowers blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol. In doing so, it lowers the risk of metabolic syndrome, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease,” she says.
Additionally, a separate study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests higher intake of olive oil is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. Many studies have shown that regularly enjoying about 1/2 to 1 Tbs. of olive oil a day lowers heart disease risk up to 20%, says Regina S. Druz, MD, MBA, an integrative cardiologist and the CEO of Holistic Heart Centers.
3. Olive oil reduces inflammation
Chronic inflammation is one of the leading culprits behind everything from arthritis to type 2 diabetes — even cancer. The good news: Olive oil helps keep harmful inflammation in check. That’s thanks in large part to its high antioxidant activity, especially the compounds known as oleocanthal and oleic acid, which research in Nutrients shows reduces inflammation. (Click through to learn how an anti-inflammatory diet blocks menopausal weight gain.)
4. Olive oil aids digestion
Prone to painful bouts of constipation? Olive oil can get things moving again. It acts as a mild laxative, notes Roxana Ehsani, MS, RD, LDN, who says it also may help soften stool. Both are key for regularity and comfort. It works so well, Dr. Druz recommends it to her patients. “I have my patients who are on a daily protein shake, which tends to be constipating, add a tablespoon of olive oil to make the shake less impactful on the digestive system,” she says. (Click through to learn how constipation can cause back pain, plus the natural tips that ease the blockage.)
The health benefits of lemon juice
The humble lemon may make your mouth pucker, but both it’s tart juice and fragrant peel have all-body health benefits. In ancient Rome, lemons were used to calm colds and fevers. And ancient Egyptians reportedly used the citrus fruit to protect themselves against poison. Today, lemons are especially popular for their immunity-boosting benefits. Here’s what the juice of the citrus fruit can do:
1. Lemon juice wards off inflammation
Like olive oil, lemon juice has big benefits when it comes to thwarting harmful inflammation. Lemons are an excellent source of plant compounds called flavonoids, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. These compounds neutralize free radicals that can lead to oxidative stress that spurs inflammation. And research in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity shows that potent citrus flavonoids suppress inflammation, improving cardiovascular and metabolic health.
2. Lemon juice bolsters immunity
In addition to its anti-inflammatory effects, research shows that lemon juice has antibacterial and antifungal properties that help halt the growth of sickness-causing bacteria. Lemon juice also brims with vitamin C, which research in Nutrients suggests works to bolster immunity in several ways. It wards off oxidative stress, helps destroy invading microbes, and supports specialized immune cells that fend off colds and viruses. (Click through for more ways to boost your immunity, including combining nutrients like quercetin and zinc.)
3. Lemon juice smoothes skin
Happy news: Lemon juice can help keep you skin looking younger and smoother. The citrus fruit’s high vitamin C and vitamin E content is especially beneficial for the skin. Vitamin C significantly increases production of collagen, suggests research in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine. That’s what gives skin its firm, smooth and youthful appearance. (Click through for more anti-aging benefits of collagen supplements.)
Olive oil and lemon juice benefits
“People want natural solutions for their health,” says Dr. Druz, explaining that many patients would rather take something natural as opposed to expensive medication. That’s where pairing the benefits of olive oil with lemon juice comes in.
“There have been numerous studies demonstrating the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice independently, including optimizing cholesterol levels, promoting digestive health, and reducing inflammation and pain,” says Dr. Troulakis. “While there are no specific studies looking at the combination of the two, their potential synergistic effect intuitively makes sense,” she adds.
How to get the benefits of olive oil and lemon juice
1. Mix the two and drink it down
Olive oil and lemon juice is a natural pairing that appears in many cuisines. But just 1 Tbs. of olive oil has 120 calories. “Be mindful that olive oil is calorically dense — do not overdo it,” notes Ehsani. To get the health benefits of both olive oil and lemon juice combined, try this: Every morning on an empty stomach, drink 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil with 1 tsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice.
2. Create a mocktail
Alternatively, you can whip up an EVOO and lemon oil mocktail that like those trending on TikTok and drink it when you wake.
3. Cook with an infusion
Not a fan of drinking olive oil with lemon juice to get the benefits? No problem! There are lots of easy ways to combine these two good-for-you ingredients. Whitney Linsenmeyer, PhD, RD, LD Assistant Professor at Saint Louis University, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, likes to drizzle on a bit of lemon-infused EVOO onto foods such as soup, hummus, scrambled eggs, grain bowls, steamed greens, and roasted vegetables just before eating.
Lemon-infused olive oil
To make your own infusion, try this simple recipe:
- Peel the clean, rinsed rind from one fresh lemon
- Warm 1 cup of olive oil in saucepan over low heat (do not allow to simmer)
- Remove from heat; add lemon rind. Let sit for 10 minutes
- When cooled, discard the rind and transfer the infused olive oil to a glass jar. Refrigerate for up to 2 to 3 weeks.
Tip: When possible, look for extra virgin olive oil that has COOC or California Olive Oil Council on the label. Eshani says COOC oils undergo minimal processing, which preserves its nutritional benefits and intricate flavors.
For more benefits of olive oil:
For more benefits of lemon juice:
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.