Does Olive Oil Lubricate the Joints in the Body?

Fact Checked

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Lubricating your joints by consuming olive oil seems at once far fetched and rational. Oils of any kind seem as though they would naturally lubricate joints. But oils are not passed through the digestive system to the joints directly. Research has shown that olive oil does help joints feel and function better. But it's more complicated than olive oil merely acting as a direct joint "lubricant" after being consumed.


Olive oil has been revered for its taste and properties for more than two thousand years. It wasn't Gourmet magazine that first labeled olive oil "liquid gold." It was Homer. Olive oil was considered so sacred that it was seeped into the crypts of dead saints as a sacrament. According to chef and author Kate Heyhoe, olive oil to the people in the Mediterranean is considered "medicinal, magical, an endless source of fascination and wonder and the fountain of great wealth and power." Its medicinal powers endure to this day.

Healthy Fat

Studies reveal that the rate of heart disease is lower for people who live in the Mediterranean than in other regions. Olive oil is part of the reason for this. According to Dr. Donald Hensrud, a preventive medicine specialist with the Mayo Clinic, olive oil is a monounsaturated fat. Unlike polyunsaturated and trans fats, monunsaturated fats can reduce heart disease risks by actually lowering levels of total cholesterol and unhealthy low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

In addition to having properties that help lower cholesterol, olive oil has an anti-inflammatory property that is responsible for making joints feel better. Olive oil contains a compound called oleocanthal, according to a study co-written by Dr. Gary Beauchamp, head of the Monell Chemical Senses Center. Oleocanthal is as effective as reducing inflammation — and the pain associated with it — as ibuprofen and aspirin. The study reveals that 3½ tbsp. of olive oil packs the same anti-inflammatory power as a 200 mg dose of ibuprofen and also promotes anti-inflammation throughout the body.

Olive Oil Fats

Even though olive oil is a healthy fat, it's still a fat. As such, it should be in moderation. That 3½ tbsp. dose of olive oil contains 400 calories. Dr. Hensrud recommends using olive oil as a substitute for butter or margarine, and not alongside it, in your diet. Extra virgin oil has fewer calories per serving.