Over the past two days, I’ve been busy researching the answer to this question “Is olive oil good or bad for you?”
First, I looked at how processing affects olive oil’s nutritional value. In this NutritionFacts video, Dr. Greger offers an easy-to-grasp explanation:
“Whole-food sources of fats…. tend to be preferable… [T]hink of extra virgin olive oil like fruit juice — it’s got nutrients, but the calories…are relatively empty compared to the whole fruit. Olives are, after all, fruits… fresh squeeze them, and you get olive juice. Less nutrition than the whole fruit.”
As the owner of a vegan restaurant, I can totally relate to this description. For years, I felt guilt over the amount of pulp created from cold-pressing our juices. I realized removing the fruit’s pulp meant taking healthy fiber and a host of beneficial polyphenol phytonutrients with it. We no longer make juice.
In the same way, olive oil contains just a small fraction of the nutrients found in whole olives. That doesn’t make it unhealthy; a small amount of nutrition, after all, is better than none.
But, as Dr. Greger observes in a different video, consuming the nutrients in oil form may replace their positive effect with a negative one:
“There are components of extra virgin olive oil — the antioxidant phytonutrients — that may help endothelial function. But when consumed as oil, even extra virgin olive oil, [they] may impair arterial function.”
Talk about a mixed message! The same compounds help endothelial function but hurt arterial function? You can see how my study has led to some head-scratching conclusions!
It’s no mystery why many popular WFPB doctors advise against the use of oil. It’s simply NOT a whole food. Processing has left it in a less-than-ideal form.
But where does that leave us regarding the oft-repeated claim that olive oil is a healthy fat?
More on that later.