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  1. For several years I've been spending money on Amphorra Nueavs freshly harvested high-poly olive oil and thinking this is a health food. What's up? Is it, or not? https://www.verywell.com/look-beyond-olive-oil-4011093?utm_content=6960215&utm_medium=email&utm_source=cn_nl&utm_campaign=livinghealthy&utm_term= One of the more common myths about food that I often hear has to do with olive oil. Many people are stunned when I tell them: Olive oil is not a health food. Many people have a misconception about olive oil, wrongly assuming that since it is a major source of calories in a Mediterranean diet, it must be healthy. A Mediterranean diet is rich in unrefined plant foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, and grains and includes only limited amounts of animal foods like meats and dairy. However, it is the unrefined plant foods of this dietary pattern – the green vegetables, tomatoes, beans and nuts – which supply the bulk of the healthful antioxidants, phytochemicals, and minerals, not the olive oil. But, somehow olive oil has been pinpointed as responsible for the health benefits of eating a Mediterranean diet. Olive oil is a step up from butter or other animal fats, but it is inferior to whole food sources of fat. The results have been mixed on the link between olive oil and cardiovascular health. In 2014, a meta-analysis (study of many studies) evaluating observational studies of olive oil consumption reported that olive oil consumption was associated with a decreased risk of stroke but not coronary heart disease. Nut consumption, in contrast, is consistently linked to at least a 35 percent reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease. A Mediterranean diet may be a bit better than the Standard American Diet, but it does not offer the dramatic protection against heart attacks, strokes, and cancers as does a Nutritarian diet. A Nutritarian diet is the most effective, gold-standard of all longevity-promoting diet. Olive Oil is a Fattening Processed Food When most people think of processed foods, they think of chicken nuggets, hot dogs, and sugary breakfast cereals. Olive oil is never on that list. But, olive oil – like all other cooking oils – is not a whole food. It, too, is a processed food, with the fiber and many beneficial phytochemicals from the original olive removed. Eat real food, not processed food. Olive oil may be better than animal fats and other oils, but it is still highly caloric and fattening; one tablespoon has 120 calories and one-quarter cup has 500 calories. Think of this the next time someone on a cooking show pours olive oil into a pan without using a measuring cup. It is very easy to add a lot of unintended extra calories to your food. The best choice is to get your fats from healthy whole food sources, such as nuts, seeds, and avocados. Nuts are Superior to Olive Oil, Promote Longevity An examination of the benefits of olive oil compared to nuts was tested in a side by side study called the PREDIMED study. The study compared a low-fat diet, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil, and a Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts. Both Mediterranean diets reduced blood pressure, fasting glucose levels, and total cholesterol after one year. After about 5 years of follow-up, both Mediterranean diets provided substantial protection against cardiovascular events compared to the low-fat diet. However, when participants were further grouped based on their baseline nut consumption, an important difference emerged. The participants with the lowest risk of death were those that ate three or more servings of nuts a week regularly, and then were assigned to the Mediterranean diet plus nuts group. This study suggests that nuts have a stronger longevity-promoting effect than olive oil. When you ingest fats from healthy whole foods you consume significantly fewer calories and get a much higher fiber and micronutrient value compared to ingesting fats from processed oils. Nuts and seeds contain 40 to 50 calories per tablespoon compared to olive oil’s 120 calories. Nuts and Seeds for a Healthy Weight However, when fats are ingested in the form of extracted oils, they are rapidly absorbed by the body with no fiber to slow them down, and are quickly and completely converted into body fat. If these fats were instead ingested from whole foods, such as seeds, nuts, and avocado, their absorption would be much slower, over hours, not minutes and these fats would be mostly burned for our energy needs and not stored. Also, the fibers, sterols and stanols in the seeds and nuts would bind some of the fat in the digestive tract, like a sponge, limiting the amount of fat absorbed by the body; adding nuts and seeds to the diet, despite their calorie density, promotes weight loss and healthy weight maintenance, not weight gain. Top Your Salad with Nuts and Seeds, Not Olive Oil Nuts and seeds, are associated with reduced cholesterol levels and dramatic protection against coronary heart disease and sudden cardiac death. Since fats help you absorb the carotenoids in vegetables, replacing the olive oil on your salad with nuts and seeds reduces cardiovascular risk and calories absorbed while still providing the maximum nutrient value from the salad. In addition to increasing the absorption of nutrients in vegetables, nuts and seeds supply their own spectrum of micronutrients including cholesterol-lowering plant sterols, minerals, and antioxidants. Plus several seeds and nuts (flax, hemp, chia, walnuts) are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, beneficial especially for brain health. Some seeds – flax, chia, and sesame in particular – are rich in lignans, plant estrogens that protect against breast cancer. Nuts and seeds also promote a healthy weight and protect against diabetes. Replacing olive oil-based dressings with vinegar, fruit and nut-based dressings are definitely the way to go. Nuts and seeds, not oil, have shown dramatic protection against heart disease in scientific studies. We need to get more of our fats from these wholesome foods and less from processed oils and animal fats. Sources: Domenech M, Roman P, Lapetra J, et al. Mediterranean diet reduces 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure, blood glucose, and lipids: one-year randomized, clinical trial. Hypertension 2014, 64:69-76. Estruch R, Ros E, Salas-Salvado J, et al. Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with a Mediterranean diet. N Engl J Med 2013, 368:1279-1290. Guasch-Ferre M, Bullo M, Martinez-Gonzalez MA, et al. Frequency of nut consumption and mortality risk in the PREDIMED nutrition intervention trial. BMC Med 2013, 11:164. Kris-Etherton PM, Hu FB, Ros E, Sabate J. The role of tree nuts and peanuts in the prevention of coronary heart disease: multiple potential mechanisms. J Nutr 2008, 138:1746S-1751S. Martinez-Gonzalez MA, Dominguez LJ, Delgado-Rodriguez M. Olive oil consumption and risk of CHD and/or stroke: a meta-analysis of case-control, cohort and intervention studies. Br J Nutr 2014, 112:248-259
  2. I read that wine prolongs the life of men by 3.8 years all ages and olive oil by 9.5 years in people aged 65 and over which is an incredible benefit if we take olive oil from childhood we would have about 40 years of benefit
  3. All, Like Michael, I've got a huge backlog of posts I want to get to, and unlike Michael, I'm actually planning to get to them all. So I'm going to try to keep this one short. We'll see how that works out... OK - I admit brewing olive oil is a strange idea, and really a misnomer. The title is an allusion to a similar thread about chocolate/cacao - So Why Don't We Brew Our Chocolate? Brewing chocolate, instead of eating it, is a practice I've engaged in since that thread began in November, in order to get the health-promoting phytonutrients in cacao without the calories, refined sugar, saturated fat or heavy metals (e.g. cadmium) that chocolate products generally contain. Now, in researching this recent post for the cold exposure thread about the ability of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and olive leaf extract (OLE) to promote beneficial thermogenesis and the browning of white fat, I realized the same argument about brewing vs. eating can and perhaps should be made for olive polyphenols that I made for cacao polyphenols in the brewing chocolate thread. As we all know by now, EVOO may be one of the keys to the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet, although it's merits relative to nuts & seeds is a perennial topic of debate on these forums. I personally come down on the side of nuts & seeds. But one thing I believe everyone can agree on, is that, while the MUFA in EVOO is relatively harmless compared to other forms of fat, the real reason EVOO is considered healthy are all the polyphenols it contains. In fact, I'd go so far as to say Michael (and other extremely health conscious individuals) wouldn't touch refined olive oil (without the polyphenols but with the MUFA) with a 10-foot pole - the polyphenols are that critical to EVOO's benefits. So if it's all about the polyphenols, why can't we get them without all the fat and calories of EVOO? It seems to me that we can, and in a form not much different in degree of refinement than EVOO. How you ask? Sure, we could eat olives. In fact store-bought olives have about 400mg/kg total polyphenols [1], higher than the minimum level Michael insists on for his high-quality, high-polyphenol EVOO (350 mg/kg). So if you aren't worried about the salt, store-bought olives might be a better option for getting your olive polyphenols, since kg-for-kg, calorie-for-calorie, and certainly dollar-for-dollar, they are a much better source of polyphenols. But before you go out and raid the antipasto bar at your local supermarket, one other potential shortcoming of olives is the fact that olives appears to maintain the same (or better) total polyphenol content as EVOO, the curing process used to debitter olives shifts which polyphenols are present. In particular, curing reduces the (bitter tasting) polyphenol oleuropein which is high in fresh olives (and high-quality EVOO), and replace it with two other derivative polyphenols, hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol. I'm not totally sure if this polyphenol shift is a step down or a step up, but it certain is a change, and most of the evidence for benefits of EVOO seem to point to the oleuropein (see below). So eating olives isn't the equivalent of eating EVOO, in terms of polyphenols (or salt or fat, obviously). So is there a better alternative to EVOO and olives that can provide the same (or higher) total polyphenol content, and in the same ratio as demonstrably healthy high-quality EVOO? Unfortunately, raw, uncured olives don't seem to be available, at least not on the biggest store in the world (Amazon). Anyone ever eaten them fresh off the tree? I bet they taste really bad. But there may be a better alternative, in the form of olive leaves and olive leaf tea. Now would be a good time for anyone who hasn't read it to check out my recent post to the cold exposure thread about how olive polyphenols turn white fat cells to brown/beige, increasing thermogenesis, insulin sensitivity, SIRT1 and AMPK as additional nice side effects. In short, olive polyphenols cured what ailed these white fat cells. But what really caught my attention about that study (PMID 27303302), was the method they used to obtain the olive polyphenols. They took fresh picked olive leaves, dried them, soaked them in hot (80 °C) water for 24 hours, strained out the leaf solids, and then concentrated the resulting liquid by removing much of the water. to create Olive Leaf Extract (OLE). In short, they made a tea from olive leaves, which they and others call Olive Leaf Extract (OLE). How do the polyphenols concentration and ratio in OLE compare with high-quality EVOO? The details are in that post, so I won't repeat them here. But to summarize, unlike cured olives, but like EVOO, Oleuropein was the most abundant polyphenol in OLE, along with (apparently) all the other major polyphenols in EVOO. So how much polyphenols are there in OLE? The authors of that study found their olive leaf tea concentrate (OLE) contained 40mg of total phenolics per gram. That equates to 40,000mg/kg (40g/kg) of polyphenols, or about two orders of magnitude higher concentration of polyphenols in the OLE than in Michael's top-notch olive oils or in cured olives themselves. So OLE, at least the way these researchers prepared it, is pretty potent stuff - a little goes a long way! So what about benefits of OLE vs. EVOO? As I discussed in detail in the cold exposure post above, OLE appears to boost BAT activity both in vitro and in vivo, just like EVOO. It looks like the polyphenol oleuropein, rich in EVOO and especially rich in OLE, is where the cardioprotective and neuroprotective effects come from [3]. LEF has a good review article with references to all the benefits of OLE and oleuropein, including improvements in blood pressure, arterial health, brain health, diabetes risk, cancer risk, and arthritis. But you might be saying - I like to eat whole foods, and olive leaf extract doesn't seem to qualify. Obviously EVOO, even of highest quality, isn't a whole food either. In fact, EVOO and OLE are quite similar, except the former has a lot more fat. And clearly green tea, coffee, or cocoa powder aren't whole foods either, but people around here generally consider them quite healthy. You may be saying by now "OK Dean, you've piqued my interest. How can I get my hands on some of this OLE stuff?" Not surprisingly, LEF and other nutraceutical vendors sells it in capsule form. For $0.36, one LEF OLE capsule contains 80mg of oleuropein among other polyphenols, the equivalent amount in about 200ml of the very highest quality EVOO, according to this table. That amount of high-quality EVOO will cost you about $8, and 1800 calories. Seems like a pretty good bargain to me... For those of you (like me) who'd rather not get your nutrition from pills if you can help it, you can buy dried olive leaves inexpensively in whole or powder form, for making tea. One benefit of being so busy posting about other topics, is that this post about OLE was delayed for a few days since I made the post over on the cold exposure thread which brought OLE to my attention. That gave me time to put my money where my mouth is, by ordering, receiving and testing out the Frontier organic whole olive leaf powder linked to above. All I can say is that if oleuropein is what makes EVOO and OLE bitter (and healthy), this stuff has a lot of oleuropein! Eating even a tiny pinch straight is not pleasant - to put it mildly. Fortunately as we saw above, it doesn't take much. I'm now adding just a pinch per day of olive leaf powder to my coffee/tea/cacao concoction, which has enough flavors in it that I don't even notice the OLE's unpleasant taste. Plus by cold brewing it overnight, warm brewing it briefly in the morning, and filtering the heck out of it, I'm eliminating any nastiness left in the solids. The powder I purchased are supposed to be from organic olive leaves, but who knows... Just like with cadmium from the soil in cacao, lead in tea leaves etc. In summary, if you are interested in the benefits of the highest quality olive oil, without the financial or calorie burden, you might seriously consider olive leaf extract or olive leaf tea as alternatives. I'm curious, has anyone else tried olive leaf products, and if so (or even if not), what do you think? --Dean --------- [1] J Agric Food Chem. 2004 Feb 11;52(3):479-84. Effect of cultivar and processing method on the contents of polyphenols in table olives. Romero C(1), Brenes M, Yousfi K, García P, García A, Garrido A. Author information: (1)Food Biotechnology Department, Instituto de la Grasa (CSIC), Avenida Padre García Tejero 4, Seville, Spain. Full text: http://sci-hub.cc/10.1021/jf030525l Polyphenols were determined by HPLC in the juice and oil of packed table olives. The phenolic compositions of the two phases were very different, hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol being the main polyphenols in olive juice and tyrosol acetate, hydroxtyrosol acetate, hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol, and lignans (1-acetoxypinoresinol and pinoresinol) in oil. The type of processing had a marked influence on the concentration of polyphenols in olive juice and little on the content in oil. The analyses carried out on 48 samples showed that turning color olives in brine had the highest concentration in polyphenols ( approximately 1200 mg/kg), whereas oxidized olives had the lowest ( approximately 200 mg/kg). Among olive cultivars, Manzanilla had a higher concentration than Hojiblanca and Gordal. The type of olive presentation also influenced the concentration of polyphenols in olives, decreasing in the order plain > pitted > stuffed. The results obtained in this work indicate that table olives can be considered a good source of phenolic antioxidants, although their concentration depends on olive cultivar and processing method. PMID: 14759136 ----------- [2] J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Jul 25;60(29):7081-95. doi: 10.1021/jf3017699. Epub 2012 Jul 11. Factors influencing phenolic compounds in table olives (Olea europaea). Charoenprasert S(1), Mitchell A. Author information: (1)Department of Food Science and Technology, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, California 95616, United States. The Mediterranean diet appears to be associated with a reduced risk of several chronic diseases including cancer and cardiovascular and Alzheimer's diseases. Olive products (mainly olive oil and table olives) are important components of the Mediterranean diet. Olives contain a range of phenolic compounds; these natural antioxidants may contribute to the prevention of these chronic conditions. Consequently, the consumption of table olives and olive oil continues to increase worldwide by health-conscious consumers. There are numerous factors that can affect the phenolics in table olives including the cultivar, degree of ripening, and, importantly, the methods used for curing and processing table olives. The predominant phenolic compound found in fresh olive is the bitter secoiridoid oleuropein. Table olive processing decreases levels of oleuropein with concomitant increases in the hydrolysis products hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol. Many of the health benefits reported for olives are thought to be associated with the levels of hydroxytyrosol. Herein the pre- and post-harvest factors influencing the phenolics in olives, debittering methods, and health benefits of phenolics in table olives are reviewed. PMID: 22720792 --------- [3] Saudi Pharm J. 2010 Jul;18(3):111-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jsps.2010.05.005. Epub 2010 May 31. Cardioprotective and neuroprotective roles of oleuropein in olive. Omar SH(1). Author information: (1)College of Pharmacy, Qassim University, P.O. Box 31922, Buraidah-51418, Saudi Arabia. Traditional diets of people living in the Mediterranean basin are, among other components, very rich in extra-virgin olive oil, the most typical source of visible fat. Olive is a priceless source of monounsaturated and di-unsaturated fatty acids, polyphenolic antioxidants and vitamins. Oleuropein is the main glycoside in olives and is responsible for the bitter taste of immature and unprocessed olives. Chemically, oleuropein is the ester of elenolic acid and 3,4-dihydroxyphenyl ethanol, which possesses beneficial effects on human health, such as antioxidant, antiatherogenic, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. The phenolic fraction extracted from the leaves of the olive tree, which contains significant amounts of oleuropein, prevents lipoprotein oxidation. In addition, oleuropein has shown cardioprotective effect against acute adriamycin cardiotoxicity and an anti-ischemic and hypolipidemic activities. Recently, oleuropein has shown neuroprotection by forming a non-covalent complex with the Aβ peptide, which is a key hallmark of several degenerative diseases like Alzheimer and Parkinson. Thus, a large mass of research has been accumulating in the area of olive oil, in the attempt to provide evidence for the health benefits of olive oil consumption and to scientifically support the widespread adoption of traditional Mediterranean diet as a model of healthy eating. These results provide a molecular basis for some of the benefits potentially coming from oleuropein consumption and pave the way to further studies on the possible pharmacological use of oleuropein to prevent or to slow down the cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. PMCID: PMC3730992 PMID: 23964170
  4. I'm going to try to get some the next time I head West. Money is no object.
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