New Olive Oil Study Sparks Questions for Whole-Food, Plant-Based Eaters

A large new study from Harvard University suggests that a small daily dose of olive oil may significantly reduce the risk of early death. This raises questions among whole-food, plant-based eaters, as avoiding added oil is a cornerstone of the WFP diet.

the new study, published in January in Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Examined olive oil consumption and mortality using data collected from more than 90,000 health care workers over a 28-year period: 60,582 women in the Nurses’ Health Study and 31,801 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.


Participants completed health assessment questionnaires every two years. Every four years, they would answer detailed food frequency questionnaires asking how often, on average, they had eaten certain foods in the previous year, including the types and types of cooking fats and oils that were added at the table. During the 28-year follow-up period, 36,856 participants died.

After adjusting for known risk factors and other dietary factors, the researchers found that participants who consumed more than half a tablespoon per day of olive oil were 19% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and all other causes. They were 29 percent less likely to die from neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, 17 percent less likely to die from cancer, and 18 percent less likely to die from respiratory disease compared with those who did not or rarely consume olive oil.

“Our findings confirm current dietary recommendations to replace animal fats with vegetable oils for the prevention of chronic disease and premature death,” said study lead author Marta. gouache ferret, a senior research scientist in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health.

Is the oil healthy now?

An important takeaway for WFP eaters is that the Harvard study analyzed mortality rates based on different types of fat added to the diet. They did not examine the benefits of dieting with little or no oil. Neil Barnard, MD, addressed the question on the January 20 episode of exam room by the Doctors Committee audio notation.

“olive oil is being Better than chicken fat, cow fat, cheese fat, dairy fat. “It’s better than all of those,” said Barnard, chair of the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine. exam room Host Chuck Carroll. Chicken fat is 30 percent saturated fat. Beef has 50 percent saturated fat. But for olive oil, it’s down to 14 [percent]. this is good.”

Then Barnard offered a big caveat: “But what if I instead got a non-stick pan and used no fat at all? That’s the best because every gram of fat, no matter where it comes from, contains 9 calories, and our research has shown that when People stay away from these fats in general, they do it better. So olive oil is absolutely better than animal fats. Slam dunk. But learning how to reduce oils, even olive oil, is probably the best route.”

Researchers have tried to prove that there is something magical in olive oil. And there are many plant-based ingredients, just as in broccoli and sweet potatoes. However, the biggest problem seems to be that you don’t eat animal fats anymore.

In fact, while the new study found that replacing butter, mayonnaise, or dairy fat with olive oil was associated with lower overall and cause-specific mortality risks, they did not find a significant reduction in risk when replacing olive oil with other vegetable oils.

The study authors also noted that participants who consumed more olive oil tended to be more active than other participants and less likely to smoke. They also consumed more fruits and vegetables than those who ate little or no olive oil.

The World Food Program case against oil

“There’s no doubt that when you get rid of all that other fat, olive oil—which is monounsaturated—is less harmful. However, the point is this: Not the 18, 19 percent risk reduction when that’s what you’re after. really with cardiovascular disease is eliminating it,” said lifestyle medicine pioneer Caldwell Esselstein, MD, author of Preventing and reversing heart disease.

“When did Harvard conduct an oil study where you take patients seriously ill with heart disease, stop them, and reverse them? That’s what we were able to achieve in tandem. [Dr. Dean] “Ornish and others who take this kind of approach,” Esselstein said.

in a 2014 study published in Family Practice JournalAnd Esselstyn and colleagues tested a whole plant-based diet on 198 volunteer patients with cardiovascular disease. Of the 177 patients (89 percent) who responded to the intensive counseling and adhered to the diet for an average of 3.7 years, only one patient had a major cardiovascular event: a stroke. Meanwhile, 13 of the 21 patients who did not adhere to the diet experienced adverse cardiac events.

In 2019, Esselstyn wrote a file editorial International Journal of Disease Reversal and Prevention Identifies a range of studies showing that oil consumption promotes vascular injury, including research Published in 2000 She examined the effect of olive oil after a meal on the endothelium, the membrane that lines the heart and blood vessels and helps control the relaxation and constriction of blood vessels. The study found that meals prepared with olive oil reduced flow dilation, arterial blood flow measurement, by 31 percent.

Another concern with adding the oil is its calorie density and ability to promote overeating and weight gain.

At 4,000 calories per pound, “the oil essentially follows the same model as processed sugar, which is also pressed from plants,” explain Alona Boldy, MD, and Matthew Lederman, MD, in Forks over knives plan. “Think of what an oil is: fat – and nothing but fat. …Oil of any kind has more calories per gram than any other food we know of. Without any fiber or water in it, oil lacks volume to impart to your senses a number calories you ingested; this virtually ensures that you will be consuming more calories than you need in the meal.”

To learn more about a whole plant-based diet, visit our website plant based. For meal planning support, check out forex meal chartFOK’s easy weekly meal planning tool to keep you on a healthy vegan track.

A cork olive oil bottle lying on its side surrounded by a circle of green olives

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