Olive Oil Is Junk Food!

Late­ly, many peo­ple have been tout­ing olive oil as some sort of “health food.” Sad­ly, olive oil is junk food, one of the worst junk foods there is. It’s emp­ty calo­ries that pro­vide prac­ti­cal­ly no essen­tial nutri­ents.

At rough­ly 9 calo­ries per gram, olive oil is packed with calo­ries, all of them from fat. Most of the fat­ty acids in olive oil are a monoun­sat­u­rat­ed fat­ty acid called ole­ic acid. You don’t need to get any monoun­sat­u­rat­ed fat what­so­ev­er from your diet, and monoun­sat­u­rat­ed fats have no known role in pre­vent­ing chron­ic dis­ease. About 14% of the fat­ty acids in olive oil are sat­u­rat­ed. You don’t need to get any sat­u­rat­ed fat what­so­ev­er from your diet, and a high intake of sat­u­rat­ed fat has long been known to con­tribute to coro­nary artery dis­ease.

There are only two kinds of fat­ty acid that are essen­tial in human nutri­tion, which means that you have to get them from the diet. One is an omega-6 fat­ty acid called linole­ic acid, which accounts for some­where between 3.5% and 21% of the fat­ty acids in olive oil. Since linole­ic acid is com­mon­ly found in nuts, seeds, and grains, most peo­ple get far more of it than they need. Olive oil con­tains van­ish­ing­ly small amounts of alpha-linole­ic acid, the essen­tial omega-3 fat­ty acid that is in rel­a­tive­ly short sup­ply in most people’s diets.

Too much fat of any kind will make you fat. Excess fats of all kinds also tend to build up in your arter­ies, thus lead­ing to heart attack and stroke. Fats of all kinds also tend to pro­mote insulin resis­tance, thus lead­ing to type 2 dia­betes in some peo­ple. 

Olive oil has been get­ting good press because it is con­sid­ered to be part of the “Mediter­ranean diet.” Pop­u­la­tion stud­ies had shown that rates of heart dis­ease were much low­er in some of the coun­tries that bor­dered the Mediter­ranean Sea than they were in Scan­di­navia and the Unit­ed States. How­ev­er, most peo­ple ignore the fact that the peo­ple in the Mediter­ranean coun­tries were eat­ing a more heav­i­ly plant-based diet than the peo­ple in the Unit­ed States and Scan­di­navia. Plants have no cho­les­terol, and the fiber they con­tain helps to car­ry cho­les­terol out of your sys­tem. Instead, peo­ple have been focus­ing on the fact that peo­ple in the Mediter­ranean coun­tries eat some olive oil.

Fat peo­ple in Mediter­ranean coun­tries tend to eat a low-carb, high-fat diet, with olive oil being the pre­dom­i­nant fat.  One study found that fat peo­ple in Spain had been get­ting 35% of their calo­ries from car­bo­hy­drate and 43% from fats, 55% of which were from monoun­sat­u­rat­ed fat­ty acids. So much for the the­o­ry that eat­ing fats instead of carbs makes peo­ple lose weight, or that olive oil has some sort of bel­ly flat­ten­ing mag­ic!

6 thoughts on “Olive Oil Is Junk Food!”

  1. Thanks, Steve! Jor­dan, ground flaxseed is an excel­lent source of the essen­tial omega 3 fat­ty acid alpha-linolenic acid. Leafy green veg­eta­bles are also a good source of omega 3 fat­ty acids. Some peo­ple tout fish oil as a source of omega 3 fat­ty acids. How­ev­er, all of the omega 3 fat­ty acids in fish came orig­i­nal­ly from the plants, includ­ing algae, that are at the bot­tom of the food chain. Fish do con­tain some of the longer omega 3 fat­ty acids, such as docosa­hexaenoic acid and eicos­apen­taenoic acid. How­ev­er, the Food and Nutri­tion Board of the Nation­al Acad­e­my of Sci­ences doesn’t con­sid­er either of these fat­ty acids to be essen­tial in human nutri­tion.

  2. But green leafy veg­eta­bles are so low in fat, there can’t be that much Omega 3, right? I’m con­sid­er­ing a low fat, high carb, whole foods diet, it sounds like a great way to go for the most part. I’m sick of all the low carb stuff! haha. But flaxseed being the main veg­e­tar­i­an source for Omega 3 doesn’t sound very promis­ing. Should we just sup­ple­ment with Omega 3, like we have to sup­ple­ment with B12?

  3. Some peo­ple add a spoon­ful of ground flaxseed to their cere­al in the morn­ing. That should pro­vide more than enough for most peo­ple. When peo­ple got an essen­tial fat­ty acid defi­cien­cy from being fed noth­ing but glu­cose intra­venous­ly, their needs for essen­tial fat­ty acids could be met by rub­bing a small amount of veg­etable oil on their skin.

    Dr. McDougall argues that defi­cien­cies of essen­tial fat­ty acids do not occur in peo­ple eat­ing low-fat diets because such diets include a lot of veg­eta­bles, which are rich in essen­tial fat­ty acids. http://www.drmcdougall.com/res_vegetable_fat_med.html

    Of course, peo­ple who have a diges­tive dis­or­der or meta­bol­ic dis­or­der may need more fat than a per­son nor­mal­ly would. Also, there are some con­di­tions for which doc­tors use essen­tial fat­ty acid sup­ple­ments as if they were a drug. If you’re in one of those sit­u­a­tions, you need to get advice from a dietit­ian or oth­er licensed med­ical pro­fes­sion­al.

  4. i have final­ly made up my mind after eat­ing all kinds of fats after a life­time of 86 years
    that i need to look after my arter­ies in order to live out the rest of my life med­ica­tion free.I
    do have some med­ical prob­lems, main­ly brought about by my lifestyle. My own con­sid­er­able inter­est in this sub­ject has brought the con­clu­sion that Lau­rie Endi­cott Thomas informed health mat­ters are for me.

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