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Olive Oil in Coffee? What’s Up with That?

Olive oil in coffee? It seems like an odd combination, and it may have you questioning whether it’s good for your health. Turns out, there’s no harm here.

Theresa Dvorak, a registered dietitian in the Department of Nutrition and Integrated Physiology (NUIP) in the College of Health and director of Culinary Medicine at University of Utah, shares why.

Packed with health benefits

Both olive oil and coffee are packed with compounds that promote good overall health. They are great components to incorporate into a healthy lifestyle.

Olive oil: Olive oil is an oleic acid—it is rich in unsaturated fats and loaded with antioxidants. A good source of vitamins E and K, it also contains omega-3 fatty acids and  polyphenols.

Some of olive oil’s many benefits include:

Olive oil is also a main component of the Mediterranean diet, which dietitians have long touted as one of the healthiest and most sustainable eating patterns in the world. Research has shown many benefits of this type of diet, including helping heart and brain health and preventing chronic disease.

Coffee: Besides helping boost your energy levels (thanks to the caffeine), coffee is also packed with antioxidants, potassium, and B vitamins.

It has many similar health benefits to olive oil, such as reducing inflammation, heart disease, liver disease, and the risk of stroke. Other research has shown coffee may lower the chance of developing type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Be mindful of your intake

With both foods, it’s important to moderate how much you consume. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says about four to five cups (400 milligrams) of coffee a day for an adult is generally OK.

Research has also found that consuming 1 ½ tablespoons (20 grams) of oleic acid a day may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. But it’s important to keep in mind that a spoonful of olive oil is about 119 calories. Increasing your olive oil intake also ups your calories.

“Any time you add oil or fat to your food or beverage, it’s automatically going to increase that calorie consumption,” Dvorak says. “But olive oil is a great source of calories because it's those unsaturated fatty oils.”


It’s not a magic potion

While the two super foods are packed with health benefits, the addition of olive oil in coffee doesn’t make it magical.

“It’s not going to have these magical properties that are going to ramp up your health more than overall healthful eating,” Dvorak says. “Eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and unsaturated fatty acids (like olive oil and other plant oils) and getting plenty of physical activity is the best option to better health.”

The bottom line

Individually, both coffee and olive oil are great components to incorporate into a healthy lifestyle. If you’d like to combine the two ingredients, there’s no high risk here.

“Incorporating unsaturated fats like olive oil is a great way to boost your health, especially if that offsets eating those unhealthy fats found in fast foods or fried foods,” Dvorak says. “But just that one tablespoon alone isn't going to magically cure us of our chronic disease.”

Dvorak says you should talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian if you have questions about diet and overall health goals.