The short-term effect of replacing refined olive oil with extra virgin olive oil, walnuts, or almonds on cardiovascular risk factors.
Recently researchers in Spain wondered what would happen if they replaced much of the refined olive oil in people’s diets with extra virgin olive oil or walnuts, or almonds. What were the effects on people’s cardio vascular risk factors after a month on each of the different diets. Same people, but three different months diets different only by the main source of fat. And this is what they found
The people in the nut groups did significantly better, dropping their total cholesterol about 7%, knocking about 20 points off their bad cholesterol, however the extra-virgin olive oil did do somewhat better than the refined olive oil, presumably because it retains a few more phytosterols, but nuts—and seeds—remain the best source of fat.
Whole food sources of fats, like everything else, tend to be preferable. One can think of extra virgin olive oil like fruit juice—it’s got nutrients, but the calories you get are relatively empty compared to the whole fruit. Olives are, after all, fruits. You fresh squeeze them and you get olive juice, less nutrition than the whole fruit, but then it gets even worse, they throw away what’s called the olive wastewater, which contains all of the water soluble nutrients in olives so you’re really just getting a small fraction of the nutrition of the whole fruit. So why not just eat the olives? Well the problem is that they’re soaked in brine such that a dozen olives could take up half your sodium intake for the day, so I suggest eating them only in moderation.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Kerry Skinner.
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Adding nuts and seeds to one's salad boosts the bioavailability of the fat-soluble carotenoid phytonutrients in the greens. See my video Forgo Fat-Free Dressings?. Oil would work, but whole food sources of fat (and other nutrients!) are superior. For more on nuts and cholesterol see Nuts and Bolts of Cholesterol Lowering and for more on the adverse effects of too much sodium, see Dietary Guidelines: With a Grain of Big Salt and Salt OK if Blood Pressure is OK?
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For more context, check out my associated blog post, Stool Size and Breast Cancer Risk.