The Natural the Better; Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Breastfeeding

The most widely spoken of and recognized oil globally is olive oil, specifically extra virgin olive oil. The inclusion of it in the Mediterranean diet has been the main factor that makes the Mediterranean diet to be known as one of the healthiest diets. People from countries like Greece, Italy, Tunisia, and Cyprus have a low rate of chronic diseases like hypertension and heart disease.

Many kinds of research and articles have been written proving its goodness. Even though olive oil is known to have a lot of health benefits, not many people around the world use it in their diet. According to a North American Olive Oil Association study, only 4 out of 10 American consumers use the oil in their diet. Only 25% of olive oil users in America have some knowledge about it [2].

Mentioned In the Quran and As-Sunnah

The benefit and importance of blessed oil usage have been mentioned in al Quran and As-Sunnah since 1400 years ago. Its fruit has been mentioned in the Quran in several ayahs. In Soorat al-Mu’minoon. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And a tree (olive) that springs forth from Mount Sinai, that grows oil, and (it is a) relish for the eaters.” [3] According to Qatadah, the tafsir of the word ‘relish’ in this ayah means that olive contains a beneficial oil and condiment. [4]

Since 1400 years ago, Prophet Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) has advised us to have it in our diet and to oil ourselves with it. One of the sahabah, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Eat olive oil and oil yourselves with it, for it comes from a blessed tree.” [1]

In this short guide, we will not discuss the whole list of its health benefits. We will only mention a few specifically related to breastfeeding mums and babies.

Why should breastfeeding mums consume extra virgin olive oil?
  • It contains healthy fat (monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids)
  • It is rich in vitamin E and all other nutrients.
  • Studies have proven that mothers who consume extra virgin olive oil during pregnancy and breastfeeding have babies with a lower risk of wheezing in the 1st year of life.
  • It is also proven that it reduces the risk of postpartum depressive symptoms.
  • It has an analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect.
How much extra virgin olive oil should we consume in a day?

Based on research on the topic ‘Olive Oil: Maternal and Pediatric Health’ published in February 2017 in the Journal of Pediatric and Neonatal Individualized Medicine, the daily recommended intake is 20mg/day to affect body metabolism.

photo of olives on cup of olive oil

These are some of the nutrients that are available in the oil that have health benefits for breastfeeding mums and babies:

1. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an anti-oxidant. Newborn babies need vitamin E to overcome oxidative stress when entering the oxygen-rich atmosphere. It also encourages the intake of minerals and regulates calcium and phosphorus for the ossification of bones. Vitamin E is concentrated in the breast gland during breastfeeding. Through breast milk, newborns and breastfeeding babies can obtain Vitamin E from mothers. Therefore, breastfeeding mothers must get enough vitamins that can be obtained naturally from extra virgin olive oil consumption.

2. Monounsaturated fatty acids

55 to 83% of extra virgin olive oil content is a monounsaturated fatty acid. Omega 9 fatty acids are one of these types of fatty acids that is available in it.

-Omega 9 fatty acid (oleic acid)

Breastfeeding mothers are required to consume more fat than ordinary people. This can be achieved by consuming monounsaturated fat. The monounsaturated fatty acids are available in the extra virgin olive oil help to regulate the mother’s body weight, reducing the risk of overweight and obesity among breastfeeding mothers. It also helps develop neurons in the brain and increases brain function among breastfeeding babies.

3. Polyunsaturated fatty acids

These fatty acids in breast milk help increase the immune system in breastfeeding babies before the allergic reaction starts.

-Omega 3 (linolenic acid)

The content of this fatty acid in extra virgin olive oil is similar to breastmilk, up to 1.5%. It is essential for nerve and brain development and visual function.

-Omega 6 (linoleic acids)

The content of this fatty acid in extra virgin olive oil is 3.5 to 21%. Its content in extra virgin olive oil is similar to breastmilk too. It is also essential for nerve and brain development.

4. Oleochantal is also an anti-oxidant.

It is a natural anti-inflammatory substance important in wound healing and fighting inflammation.

I hope this simple guide will help us understand the relationship between extra virgin olive oil and breastfeeding and motivate us to learn more about this particular oil from a unique fruit Allah has sworn in Surah At-Tin. Let’s start putting the oil from a blessed fruit, olive, in our diet today. Happy breastfeeding! Get more info on breastfeeding by downloading ‘Feeding with Baraka’ for FREE.

Written by Dr. Fadzidah Ariffin (M.D)



[2] al-Mu’minoon 23:20

[3] Tafsir Ibn Kathir Surah Al Mu’minoon 23:20

[4] Narrated by At-Tirmidhi (1851), classed as Saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh at-Tirmidhi.


  7. Tafsir Ibn Kathir

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