It’s about time the FDA finally agreed with me… only 10 years later.
Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a statement about my favorite type of oil… olive oil. Oils with high levels of a certain type of fatty acid called oleic acid can now boast about their health claims. In other words, your favorite bottle of olive oil may now carry a statement about heart health. According to the FDA’s language, the manufacturers may state that:
Supportive but not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that daily consumption of about one-and-a-half tablespoons (20 grams) of oils containing high levels of oleic acid may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
The agency also mentioned that you shouldn’t use these oils to increase your daily caloric intake. Instead, you should use these oils to replace other foods that are high in saturated fats.
We agree completely. We’ve written before about the dangers of saturated and trans fats, which you can find mostly in pre-processed foods, baked goods, and fried foods. But there’s also saturated fat in palm oil, coconut oil, and dairy products. And it’s simple to switch… the next time you want salad dressing, grab olive oil and vinegar instead of a bottled salad dressing high in saturated fats, sugars, and other bad stuff.
I’ve recommended olive oil for years. In fact, one of my very first letters for Stansberry Research talked about olive oil. (Read the 2008 essay here.) And one of the benefits I point out is the composition of olive oil.
You’ll notice the FDA mentions the presence of oleic acid. It’s a type of monounsaturated fatty acid, or “MUFA.” These keep our insulin levels in check. They also help with cholesterol levels and even lower blood pressure. Best of all, MUFAs reduce inflammation. And inflammation, as I’ve said for years, is the root of heart disease.
The oils that fall under this ruling from the FDA must contain at least 70% oleic acid per serving. That includes many oils labeled as “high oleic” – high oleic sunflower oil, high oleic algal oil, etc. But on this list is a natural oil too – olive oil.
Olive oil consists mainly of MUFAs. By volume, olive oil is on average 75% oleic acid, 13% saturated fat, 10% omega-6 fatty acid, and 2% omega-3. What this means for us is that the oil is well-balanced with a mix of many oil types.
The reason this announcement is a big deal is because the FDA has tried to crack down on labeling guidelines over the years. Many products can’t claim any type of health benefit because of these rules. And to be fair, we agree with the rulings – the last thing we want is some untested dietary pill to carry claims it can cure cancer.
So getting the approving nod from Big Government in this case is a good thing (something we don’t say often). It shows folks that we need to increase our intake of these oils for a healthier heart.
If you’re ready to add more olive oil into your diet to boost heart health, you need to know a few basics. A quick stroll through your grocery store will reveal a few different types of olive oil.
Extra virgin is the highest-quality olive oil and uses no chemicals in the pressing process. It should also be cold-pressed. That’s because higher temperatures affect the quality of the oil. Extra-virgin olive oil contains MUFAs and the most antioxidants. It’s the type we recommend adding to your diet.
Other types include virgin (which has a higher acidity due to riper olives), pure (a mix of virgin and refined olive oils), and light (which refers to the lighter taste).
One concern people have when cooking with olive oil is its high “smoke point.” That’s the temperature at which your oil starts sending up bluish smoke. The smoke is a breakdown of the fats in the oil into glycerol. Glycerol then breaks down further into poisonous acrolein. Acrolein not only irritates the lungs, it can also trigger asthma and cause other respiratory problems.
Regular olive oil (not extra virgin) doesn’t reach that smoke point until 406 degrees Fahrenheit (although some research puts this temperature a bit higher or lower). Cooks tend to fry at about 356 degrees, so remember to avoid going higher than 400 degrees. This will help you avoid the fumes.
Do what I do to enjoy olive oil safely. Use extra-virgin oil for dipping and in salad dressings. You can easily replace butter or margarine (stop margarine use immediately) with olive oil, and I like to use it as a potato topper. Use refined olive oil (the light stuff) or a blend of the two for general cooking. Most of all, be sure to heat your pans up slowly and to have proper ventilation for the fumes – run your oven exhaust and crack a window.
What We’re Reading…
- The FDA’s full press release.
- In case you missed it: Another key report from the FDA regarding supplement safety.
- Something different: Would you buy luxury toothpaste?
Here’s to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
November 27, 2018