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
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.
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.”
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…
Handy 5-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com
- The movie that’s changing the lives of millions: Forks Over Knives DVD
- Healthy Eating, Healthy World, The “big picture” about food (our book)
- An essential scientific resource: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell
- Dr. McDougall’s new book, The Starch Solution, with lots of great recipes.
- Dr. Campbell’s new book: WHOLE, Rethinking the Science of Nutrition
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation