As I’ve come to learn over the past few days, olive oil doesn’t completely live up to its health-promoting superstar reputation. That said, I haven’t given up on getting my healthy fats from plant-based sources — and there’s definitely no shortage of those!
Sesame seeds and tahini
Pumpkin, flax and sunflower seeds
Almonds and almond butter
Pistachio and macadamia nuts
But if we’re really fixated on superstar status? The obvious choice to replace olive oil, based on a host of comparative studies, is walnuts. Not walnut oil, but straight-from-the-shell walnuts!
In several head-to-head competitions with walnuts, olive oil simply didn’t measure up. Dr. Greger compares their effects on our arteries in this NutritionFacts video:
“Immediate positive effect on our arteries… Higher fat olive oil? No reaction. And walnuts? Good reaction.”
Move the playing field to inflammation, and the results remain the same:
“Eat a salami-and-cheese sandwich with some olive oil, and artery function plummets like a third. But, replace that olive oil with the same amount of plant fat in the form of whole walnuts, and you don’t just blunt the effect of the salami-and-cheese, but reverse it — ending up actually better than you started out.”
Battling high LDL cholesterol? Olive oil helps a bit, but nothing like a plant-based diet with walnuts:
“Adding walnuts to a low-fat diet and not only does LDL go down, but the size distribution of the LDL shifts to a little more benign… And … on a plant-based diet with lots of fiber and nuts, you can get a massive 30% drop in LDL… [including] the small, dense, most dangerous LDL. Note: this does not happen with extra-virgin olive oil.”
Even if you’ve never had a seat on the olive-oil bandwagon, just one weekly serving of walnuts can make a huge difference in your heart’s health:
“Not eating walnuts may double our risk of dying from heart disease (compared to at least one serving a week) — perhaps because nuts appear to improve endothelial function, allowing our arteries to better relax normally.”
That’s an up to 50-percent drop in your risk of dying from America’s #1 killer, just from eating an ounce of walnuts each week.
My conclusion? Nuts are the healthiest of fats, and whole, crunchy walnuts are one of the healthiest of nuts!