It is time to distinguish the good fat, such as in olive oil, from the bad and incorporate it back into our diets.
A randomized controlled study in Spain (PREDIMED) has found that consuming a Mediterranean diet rich in extra virgin olive oil does not lead to weight gain. Instead, the study found that olive oil is linked to weight loss. The findings were published in the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal.
The study looked at more than 7000 participants who were divided into three groups and were tracked over five years. The first group was asked to follow an unrestricted-calorie Mediterranean diet supplemented with additional extra virgin olive oil; the second group was asked to follow an unrestricted-calorie Mediterranean diet supplemented with additional nuts; and the third group was asked to follow a low-fat diet. More than 90% of the participants were overweight or obese at the time of the study and were between the ages of 55 and 80 years of age.
The results showed that all three groups lost weight, but the greatest weight loss came from the group that followed the Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil – 0.88kg compared with 0.60 kg on the low-fat diet.
Of course, this does not mean people have the license to eat anything that contains fat. Participants in the Mediterranean groups ate foods that were high in fat but did not include red meat or butter, processed foods, sweets and desserts, or sugar-sweetened beverages. Instead, they ate fish, nuts, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
Good fats in olive oil, nuts, and fish are beneficial for our health, and science is continually proving this to be the case. Recent studies have shown that consuming a Mediterranean diet with extra virgin olive oil leads to lower rates of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. And now there is evidence that the healthy fats in olive oil is linked to weight loss.
The North American Olive Oil Association is committed to supplying North American consumers with quality products in a fair and competitive environment; to fostering a clear understanding of the different grades of olive oil; and to expounding the benefits of olive oil in nutrition, health, and the culinary arts.