Mineral oil and olive oil may sound like the same thing — after all, they are both oils. However, not all oils are the same and this is the case with mineral and olive oil. Whereas one is a hearth-healthy cooking oil, the other is an over-the-counter medication for gastrointestinal problems.
Mineral oil is laxative that is used to relieve constipation and bowel irregularity, according to the Drugs.com. Mineral oil works by slowing the absorption of water from your intestine, which then softens the stool and relieves constipation. Olive oil is a vegetable oil used in cooking, salad dressings and baking. Olive oil is considered to be a healthier dietary fat than butter. When cooking, replace butter with olive oil as often as you can.
Olive oil is a high-calorie food that is absorbed into your body. Mineral oil is retained in your intestines and does not provide any calories. One tablespoon of olive oil has around 120 calories and 13.5 grams of dietary fat. Although the fat content of olive oil is high, most of the fats are unsaturated fatty acid; 1 tablespoon has 10 grams of monounsaturated, 1.4 grams of polyunsaturated and only 1.9 grams of saturated fatty acids. In addition, olive oil does not contain any dietary cholesterol.
Mineral oil does not have any nutritional value. In fact, it may actually deplete nutrients you have gotten from foods. Dr. William Sears, who is an associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of California, Irvine, and a founder of AskDrSears.com, warns that prolonged use of mineral oil may deplete your intestines of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, and decrease absorption of calcium and phosphorus. Olive oil does not contain any minerals, but it is a good source of vitamin E. One tablespoon of olive oil contains nearly 2 grams of vitamin E. The recommended dietary allowance of vitamin E for women is 15 milligrams per day, according to the Linus Pauling Institute.
Not all dietary fats are the same. Saturated fats and trans fats are considered harmful fats that can increase your blood cholesterol. Unsaturated fatty acids, on the other hand, are considered helpful fats that may actually help lower your blood cholesterol levels and prevent your risk of cardiovascular disease. The Harvard School of Public Health recommends choosing foods that contain unsaturated fatty acids, such as olive oil and fish, and avoid foods that are high in saturated fatty acids, such as butter and cheese.
- Drugs.com: Mineral Oil
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Nutrient Data Laboratory
- Harvard School of Public Health: Fats and Cholesterol: Out With the Bad, In With the Good
- AskDrSears.com: Mineral Oil
- Linus Pauling Institute Oregon State University: Vitamin E
- Fitbit: Nutritional Information, Diet Info and Calories in Mineral Oil, Kaydol
- Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images