Olive Oil; not a health food…the first in a series of six

I received a note from a reader recently about someone who had just been told that olive oil was not good for you:

Hi, I am so confused about the oil issue. The movie “Forks over Knives” says that ALL oils are fat and are bad for you. I can’t seem to find any info online supporting this. Do you know anything regarding this? I always thought olive oil was so good for you? Thanks, Susannah

Lovely and tasty, olive oil is 100% fat and, while plant-based, it is not a whole plant.

Her question has inspired me to write a series of six blogs about a number of foods that virtually everyone seems to think are healthy — vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. In Chapter 10 of our book, while providing tips on how to eat a truly health-promoting 4-Leaf diet, we include a list of six foods entitled, Not-So-Healthy Foods — A Reminder.

We included that list because most of us have grown up believing that all six items were very healthy choices. The other five are milk, cheese, granola, yogurt and fish. Here’s what we had to say about olive oil in Chapter 10:

Olive Oil. People are always shocked to learn that olive oil is not a healthy food; but the truth is, all oil derives 100% of its calories from fat.  Your body does need fat, just as it needs carbohydrates and protein—and it gets just the right amount of all three from fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.  As Dr. and Mrs. Esselstyn say, “You don’t need oil for cooking. You can use almost any liquid—even beer or wine.”  An optimal diet delivers 15% or less of its calories from fat, so choosing to use oil makes coming anywhere close to that number very difficult.

J. Morris Hicks introduces Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn at the Stonington Harbor Yacht Club in August of 2010.

Dr. Esselstyn likes to see his heart patients keep their fat consumption below 10% of their daily calories. The average American gets close to 40% from fat and will have a real tough time getting down to even below 20% if they make any oil (including olive oil) a part of their daily routine. Dr. Esselstyn has also reported that even though olive oil contains no cholesterol, that its consumption will make it difficult to hit his total cholesterol target of less than 150.

He has also found that processed oils cause damage to the endothelial cells within our arteries. As he says in the new Forks Over Knives book, page 19, “The typical Western diet of processed oils, dairy and meat destroys our endothelial cells and leaves plaque buildup that inhibits blood flow.”

J. Morris Hicks, with no planned olive oil consumption, my percent of calories from fat is around 12%.

What to do? In my case, I probably consume a fair amount of olive oil on salads and other dishes that I order in restaurants. But I never plan to have any, I don’t buy any and I don’t keep any in my house. The best solution is to find cause for CELEBRATION with your new diet-style, not deprivation from things that you may have enjoyed in the past. Next post in the series…

Cow’s milk; not a health food…2nd in a series of 6

Handy 5-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com

Why should we be eating mostly plants? The “big picture” in 4 minutes.

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to jmorrishicks@me.com

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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

To order more of my favorite books—visit our online BookStore now

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, visit our 4Leaf page and also enjoy some great recipes from Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

Got a question? Let me hear from you at jmorrishicks@me.com. Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

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—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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1 Response to Olive Oil; not a health food…the first in a series of six

  1. Craig Holman says:

    Concerning olive oil there are two good sources that I like:
    1. Go on you tube and find Jeff Novick discussion about olive oil. It is about 9 minutes. It is great.
    2. Pritikin web site, http://www.pritikin.com I believe has in its archives a very informational 2-3 pages about olive oil.

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