Olive oil and lemon juice are common ingredients in many cuisines, especially in the Mediterranean and Levant regions.
Some people claim that the combination of olive oil and lemon juice can treat a range of conditions, such as gallstones, joint pain, and premature aging.
Additionally, studies have investigated the potential health benefits of nutrients found in olive oil and lemon juice separately.
In this article, we’ll discuss whether there’s research to back up the supposed benefits of the combination of olive oil and lemon juice. We’ll also review the benefits and potential downsides of each of these ingredients individually.
Olive oil is extracted by squeezing out the oil from the ripe olive fruits using various methods, including pressure and centrifuge. Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) is considered the highest quality type (
EVOO is made up of approximately 73% oleic acid, a heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA). It is also a great source of vitamins E and K (
Another attractive quality of olive oil is the abundant presence of natural compounds called polyphenols. These are powerful antioxidants that clean up harmful compounds called free radicals in your body, protecting you from oxidative stress (
Olive oil is made by extracting oil from the ripe olive fruit. The oil contains many nutrients, including MUFAs, polyphenols, and vitamins E and K.
The sour juice squeezed out of lemons is called lemon juice. It is rich in flavonoids and antioxidants such as vitamin C.
Some people claim that consuming olive oil and lemon juice together leads to positive health outcomes. People claim to use them for cleanses and detoxes, to treat and prevent gallstones, and to promote weight loss.
Let’s examine each of these claims individually.
Cleanse and detox claims
With a quick online search, you’ll find various concoctions said to cleanse and detox using lemon juice, olive oil, or a combination of the two.
Cleanses and detoxes supposedly flush out waste and toxins that have built up in your body over time (
However, there do not appear to be many studies on whether lemon juice and olive oil can help cleanse or detoxify.
A 2018 review of 27 high quality studies looked at the health effects of consuming olive oil compared with other plant oils.
The researchers found that when people consumed olive oil over the study period, they had lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and higher levels of HDL (good) cholesterol in their blood compared with people who consumed other plant oils (8).
No studies in our search of high quality research demonstrated that consuming olive oil relieves digestion issues.
However, the antioxidants and polyphenols in olive oil and lemon juice could be called “cleansing” in that they neutralize or “clean up” harmful free radicals, which otherwise cause cell damage and may contribute to illness and disease (
The human body has various biological methods to remove toxins and maintain optimal functioning (
Weight loss claims
Research has shown that specific components in lemon juice and olive oil — vitamin C in lemon juice and MUFAs in olive oil — play a role in weight management.
Lemon juice is high in vitamin C. A 3-ounce (100-gram) serving contains 38.7 mg, which is 43% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for men and 52% of the RDA for women (
In the human body, vitamin C is an important component needed to make carnitine.
Carnitine is a compound that transports fat molecules into the cells, where they are broken down and used as an energy source. Therefore, inadequate vitamin C intake may lead to a reduced breakdown of fat (
In an older study from 2006, healthy adults with marginally low vitamin C burned 25% less fat when walking on a treadmill for 60 minutes compared with people who had adequate vitamin C levels (
In another study, obesity-prone mice were given ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and fed a high fat diet for 15 weeks. The mice gained less body fat and had other markers of better health compared with mice that were fed a high fat diet but weren’t given vitamin C (
There appear to be no studies that observe the effects on weight of consuming a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice. However, the individual components may continue to be effective when combined.
It’s also important to note that newer studies in humans are needed.
Kidney stones and gallstones claims
Your dietary habits can play a crucial role in the formation of kidney stones and gallstones. A low intake of vitamin C and a high intake of saturated fats are known to contribute to these conditions (
Gallstones are solidified deposits of digestive fluids and cholesterol that develop in the gallbladder. Depending on the size and location of the gallstones, you may or may not experience any symptoms.
Some sources have suggested that some people use a combination of lemon juice and olive oil to promote the movement of gallstones as a folk remedy. However, there’s no research to back up this claim.
There are many healthy eating guidelines to help prevent gallstones, including the recommendation to consume healthy fats such as olive oil.
Vitamin C deficiency has also been linked with an increased risk of developing gallstones. Vitamin C may inhibit the crystallization of cholesterol by converting it into bile acids, thus preventing gallstones from forming (
One large but older study from 2000 found that, for every 27 micromol/L increase in ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in the blood, there was a 13% decrease in the formation of gallstones in women ages 20 to 74 (
Overall, the research is limited and older, so more research is needed.
The vitamin C in lemon juice and the MUFAs in olive oil may protect against gallstones. However, research observing their effectiveness for weight loss, cleanses, and detoxes is limited. No studies examine the combined effects of these foods.
Many nutrients found in olive oil and lemon juice may have positive effects on your health. Each ingredient has its own powerful health benefits.
But when combined, could olive oil and lemon juice be regarded as a super duo with greater effects than each one has when consumed individually? In short, no.
People have claimed that this mixture can improve digestion, purify the body, reduce joint pain, prevent premature ageing, and treat gallstones. However, no studies show that their effects are enhanced when they’re combined.
Some sources have touted the mixture of lemon juice and olive oil to improve digestion, purify the body, reduce joint pain, and prevent premature aging. However, there is no research to support these claims.
No studies or case reports have found that combining olive oil and lemon juice has harmful effects. Still, it’s not a good idea to expect the mixture to cure disease, as some anecdotal sources claim it does (
There are no specific known downsides to the combination of olive oil and lemon juice, but each of these components comes with a few minor downsides to be aware of.
Acidic foods such as lemon juice may also harm your tooth enamel if you consume them frequently (30).
Also, remember that olive oil is very calorie-dense. One tablespoon (13.5 grams) of olive oil provides 119 calories. So if you’re trying to limit your calorie intake for weight loss or other reasons, consume olive oil in moderation (
If you have a health condition and you’re wondering what treatments might work for you, speak with a healthcare professional.
There are no known major risks associated with use of olive oil and lemon juice and few minor downsides to each individually. It is a good idea to speak with a healthcare professional before self-treating any health condition.
If you’re curious about combining lemon juice and olive oil in your diet, go for it!
No research shows that lemon juice and olive oil are harmful when combined. Moreover, they’re a popular flavor pairing, and people often use them together in recipes, particularly in Mediterranean cuisine.
In addition to providing some of the potential health benefits listed above, lemon juice and olive oil make a great salad dressing or base for a Mediterranean chicken and potato bake (my personal favorite), among many other tasty recipes.
If you experience an allergic reaction or other concerning health effects after consuming them, make sure to stop consuming them and consult a healthcare professional.
In addition to their individual health benefits, olive oil and lemon juice taste great when mixed to make a salad dressing or used together in other dishes.
Anecdotal sources have suggested that olive oil and lemon juice are a powerful duo when combined. Some people claim this combination can improve digestion, purify the body, reduce joint pain, prevent premature ageing, and treat gallstones.
However, there is no research to support these claims. The health qualities of olive oil and lemon juice don’t appear to be enhanced when the two ingredients are combined.
On the other hand, some individual components of olive oil and lemon juice may have other research-backed health benefits.
They also make a tasty mixture that you can use in cooking.
Just one thing
Try this today: If you want to combine olive oil and lemon juice in your diet, try making a simple vinaigrette salad dressing. It can go on almost any type of salad — green salad, potato salad, tomato salad, couscous, and more.
Whisk together about 3 parts lemon juice to 4 parts olive oil, then mix in some Dijon mustard, finely chopped garlic, honey or maple syrup, and salt to taste.