People keep coming to the defense of olive oil. Olive oil has no fiber, no protein, no carbohydrate, very few vitamins and minerals, and one tablespoon has more saturated fat (1.9g) than a large egg (1.5g). Olive oil has twice the saturated fat of other vegetable oils like safflower.
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil have 28 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, and 238 calories.*
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil have more saturated fat than 2 large eggs or a cubic inch of cheddar cheese.
- The saturated fat in olive oil consists mostly of palmitic acid, the same saturated fatty acid found in meat, cheese, butter, and other dairy products.
If, for example, I was following the advice of the American Heart Association (AHA) and keeping my saturated fat intake to below 7% of the day’s calories, I would be eating less than 14 grams of saturated fat (for an 1800 calorie intake).
If I ate all of the following, I would be eating more saturated fat than the AHA recommends.
- 1 ounce cheddar cheese (6g sat. fat)
- 1 ounce potato chips (2g)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (4g)
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter (3g)
Olive oil is not a health food.
* Source: NutritionData: Olive Oil
I think this is a good place to bring up the fact that fat, especially saturated fat, increases insulin resistance. So much so that people with diabetes on insulin have to give themselves more to cover a meal with more fat (even when both meals have the same amount of carbohydrate).
Dietary Fat Acutely Increases Glucose Concentrations and Insulin Requirements in Patients With Type 1 Diabetes, Diabetes Care, April 2013
Andrew Weil notes that the monounsaturated fat found in olive oil is the healthiest kind. To quote him, “it is good for the heart and can lower your risk of heart disease and heart attacks.” According to NutritionData, it is anti-inflammatory (a cupful would be “strongly anti-inflammatory” and a tbsp mildly anti-inflammatory, b/c there’s so much less of it). A tbsp has 1.9 grams of saturated fat, but ~10 grams of monounsaturated fat (9.8, according to NutritionData). It also contains phytosterols. The trick is to find the freshest olive oil (generally produced in the US, as that’s where we live) and look for a harvest date on the bottle. And, obviously, don’t overdo the use of oil.
I disagree that olive oil is “heart healthy.” I believe what RB said, that the idea of olive oil being “heart healthy” is a triumph of marketing.
Here is the Editor-in-Chief of the peer-reviewed Journal of Clinical Lipidology, Dr. W. Virgil Brown, speaking in 2009:
Clinical Lipidology Roundtable Discussion: Discussion on Dietary Fat, Journal of Clinical Lipidology, October 2009
I think most of our fat should come from whole food sources. By the way, almonds are an excellent source of linoleic acid, the omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid that “correlated best with reduction in [heart] events.”
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