Coffee fans, brace yourselves. Adding olive oil to your morning cup of joe looks set to be the newest caffeine-fuelled trend, but does it really have any health benefits?
Another week, another coffee headline. From reducing inflammation to improving bone health, coffee has a whole host of research-backed benefits. Now, it’s being claimed that a splash of nutritious olive oil could super-boost its powers.
It’s a trend coffee brands have jumped on, with Starbucks launching a range of olive oil-infused coffee in Italy and plans for the range to come to the UK soon. It seems like only yesterday we were gifted butter coffee, so what’s the deal here? Is this just another trend, or are there science-backed reasons to add a shot of EVOO to your morning cortado?
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What are the benefits of olive oil and coffee?
There’s no doubt that olive oil is a fantastic addition to any diet, and coffee is high on many people’s morning agenda. Together, it’s not a combination that immediately springs to mind, but two great things added together surely just means more goodness, and there’s certainly no evidence that mixing them together dilutes their benefits.
“Olive oil has great health benefits and is a key ingredient in the much-lauded, health-promoting Mediterranean diet,” explains nutritional therapist Natalie Burrows. “It contains high amounts of oleic acid, a mono-unsaturated fat, highly researched for its cardiovascular and metabolic benefits including reducing cholesterol.
“It’s also rich in polyphenols and squalene which help reduce inflammation and support healthy ageing and longevity.”
Likewise, coffee has some pretty great side effects, from preventing chronic diseases to boosting mental and physical performance. But there’s little evidence that mixing the two has any real effect.
Is olive oil coffee just another version of butter coffee?
Butter or ‘bulletproof’ coffee, has become popular recently due to claims that it can support intermittent fasting. The drink involves blending unsalted butter and coconut oil into coffee, and has been adopted by keto diet followers thanks to its high-fat, low-carbohydrate qualities. Fans even claim it can be an energy-boosting breakfast substitute.
However, Burrows is sceptical. “The benefit of adding fat to coffee lies in supporting the body’s production of ketones, a chemical the liver produces when it breaks down fats,” she explains. “[Butter coffee] became popular with its claims to support fasting, weight loss, and cognition or alertness. But there’s no science to support this, and if these are your aims, it’s always best to get advice from a registered professional.
“Olive oil coffee could be considered just another version of bulletproof coffee. However, the source of fats matters, and, in this case, olive oil would be preferable over butter for health benefits.” So it seems that if it’s a straight choice between butter coffee or olive oil coffee, EVOO is the way to go – but don’t get too excited about its health benefits.
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Does drinking olive oil have the same benefits as adding it to food?
Well, not exactly. The experts agree that there’s not enough evidence to support claims that drinking it in your coffee does anything other than alter the taste and texture of the drink.
“While there are hundreds of studies that have shown the benefits of olive oil in food preparation, few have explored the effect of drinking this healthy fat,” says Hannah Macey, lead nutritionist at gut health specialists Feel Complete. “I’d argue that there’s probably no additional nutritional benefit to consuming olive oil in coffee – cooking with it or adding it to dishes is a much more balanced way to benefit from its health-boosting properties.”
Whether you are drinking it or drizzling it, it’s important to note that olive oil alone does not a healthy balanced diet make.
“Adding quality olive oil to your diet supports its health benefits, so adding it to your coffee could potentially do the same,” argues Burrows. “However, my concern is that with such a claim, it becomes easy to rely on something like an olive oil coffee to provide health benefits and forget the bigger picture. If you are not balancing your meals, consuming enough of the right nutrients, and looking after your lifestyle, your morning coffee won’t make much of an impact on the overall, long-term health outcome.”
Go ahead and enjoy olive oil coffee – but don’t expect miracles
Like most food and drink trends, if you like olive oil coffee, the experts agree that you can go ahead and enjoy it. It might improve the taste of the beverage, depending on how you drink it.
“Olive oil has an earthy, nutty taste, so individual preference will determine whether adding it to coffee is a winner or not,” says Macey. “But it could make for a richer drink and, where plant milks like oat are used, it could help to replicate the mouthfeel of whole cow’s milk.”
So if you’re curious, give olive oil coffee a try. But for those who enjoy coffee and olive oil on their own anyway, why mess with a good thing?
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