We’ve come a long way from the height of last century’s low-fat diet craze. Except now, plant-based diets are taking center stage.
The mainstream loves to make you think these diets are better for your health… and the planet’s health.
But there’s always a hidden agenda.
Case in point: A recent study found that consuming this Mediterranean-kitchen staple offers tremendous health benefits.
In fact, it reduced death risk from cancer, heart disease, respiratory infection, and MORE.
Instead of recommending that you add it to your daily diet… researchers suggested completely changing to an all-or-nothing, plant-based diet.
But—there’s much more to the story. Let me explain…
A simple, tasty way to support longevity
As part of an observational study of more than 90,000 subjects, researchers analyzed the effect of consuming olive oil—a Mediterranean-kitchen staple—on overall health.
Researchers found that, compared to men and women with the lowest intake of olive oil, those who consumed more than half a tablespoon per day had a 19 percent lower risk of death over the next few decades.1
Subjects who consumed olive oil every day also had a:
- 19 percent lower risk of heart disease death
- 17 percent lower risk of dying from cancer
- 29 percent lower risk of dying from neurodegenerative disease
- 18 percent lower risk of respiratory disease death
Ultimately, the researchers estimate that if you replaced 10 grams of margarine (a poison that no one should be consuming anyway), butter, mayo, or dairy fat with the same amount of olive oil daily, you could cut your risk of death by as much as 34 percent.
What a simple, tasty, and healthy way to boost your health!
But as usual, the researchers took things a bridge too far…
Consider the bigger picture
These researchers made a ridiculously uneducated leap in logic, concluding that—based on these results—we should all be consuming a more plant-based diet.
But let’s not mince words: Just because olive oil is good for you, doesn’t mean other fats and oils are bad for you.
Yes, olive oil is packed with phenols and antioxidants. But:
- Grass-finished butter is high in healthy medium chain triglycerides (MCTs).
- Mayo is simply oil and eggs, meaning you’re gaining benefits from two nutritional powerhouses. (Olive oil-based mayo has even more to offer!)
- Organic, grass-finished dairy fat plays a role in decreasing your risk for type 2 diabetes, among other things.
So what happens if you take the researchers’ advice to replace these options? Well, that’s like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
If you truly want to eat healthier, consider the bigger picture.
That is, a diet rich in whole, unprocessed plant and animal foods, like my A-List Diet.
This approach to eating includes fresh produce, grass-fed and -finished beef, pastured and organic chicken and eggs, wild-caught fish and seafood, and nuts.
And yes, it focuses heavily on healthy oils and fats.
That includes olive oil—as it’s packed with health-boosting monounsaturated fats (MUFAs).
But due to its low smoke point, I recommend saving it for cold applications, like dressing salads and finishing dishes. (For higher temperature cooking, I recommend macadamia nut and avocado oil. These are still loaded with MUFAs, yet have higher smoke points.)
Now, let’s discuss how you can purchase the best olive oil in a sea of imposters…
To truly take advantage of the health-boosting benefits of olive oil, quality matters.
First, you should focus on the oil’s acidity level.
Aside from affecting the flavor, this is a direct measure of the oil’s quality. And in this case, less is more: The lower the acidity level, the more polyphenols and antioxidants the oil contains.
Of course, olive oil labeling regulations are a big part of the problem here.
(The food industry has always been diabolical in its efforts to misinform and mislead the public into eating “healthy” products that are anything but. Olive oil labeling is just a latest example.)
Some manufacturers blend refined and virgin oils to bump up the acidity level so that they can slap an “extra virgin” label on the bottle.
Others send their product to Italy for bottling so that their label can claim, “Product of Italy.” And others “water down” their extra virgin oil with cheap oil.
In fact, previous reports on common supermarket brands have shown that nearly 70 percent of imported olive oils didn’t pass quality standards. Neither did 10 percent of California oils, in particular.
So—how can you find good, quality olive oil? Well, understanding the different varieties is important…
Production methods make a HUGE difference
Here are the different varieties of olive oil, starting from least beneficial to the most:
Refined or processed olive oil. This is what you’ll typically get in any restaurant. It contains fewer phytochemicals that are lost during processing. In fact, any olive oil labeled as “pure” or “light” usually contains more than 80 percent refined oil, with just a touch of virgin oil added back to boost flavor.
Virgin olive oil. This type comes from ripe olives that have been mechanically pressed. It contains multiple health-boosting components with an acidity below 1.5 percent.
Extra-virgin olive oil. This variety has more flavor and lower acidity, below 1 percent. Extra-virgin means the oil was only cold-pressed once, which is key.
Estate-bottled olive oil. These oils are made from olives grown on one property alone, located in a cool climate. In these settings, the olives are picked right before they ripen. They’re also milled within three to four hours after harvest. And they’re minimally processed. They also have an acidity level below 1.
I always recommend extra-virgin or estate-bottled varieties packaged in glass containers. Because you really do get what you pay for. But for all of the impressive health benefits—including significantly slashing all-cause mortality rate, cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurodegenerative disease, and respiratory disease—I’d still call it a bargain.
“Olive Oil Intake Tied to Reduced Mortality.” Medscape Medical News, 01/10/2022. (medscape.com/viewarticle/966366)