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    Thor Falk's Avatar
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    Why is olive oil healthy?

    I am sure that this question has been asked from time to time, but I cant seem to find it - apologies if this is repetitive for some.

    THe question is really easy: given that olive oil has between 3-20% linoleic acid (ie the nasty omega 6) and no omega 3, how come that it is considered healthy? Granted, sunflower oil has something like 50% or more, but other "evil" oils like palm-oil have also about 10%? What am I missing?

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    Olive oil is healthy because of all of the studies that show it is very healthy...there are far more studies showing the health benefits of olive oil than detrimental effects of linoleic acid, that is a FACT.

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    ^ Olive oil is only about 6% n-6. It's also been shown to lower levels of n6 PUFAs in the body.

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    Olive oil is very high in omega 9, relatively low in omega 6 and holds up well to heat, but the real health benefits of olive oil is found in the polyphenol content. It's loaded with healthy anti-oxidants. Any downside in linoleic acid content (which is minimal in good quality extra virgin olive oil) is vastly overshadowed by the positives.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChocoTaco369 View Post
    Any downside in linoleic acid content (which is minimal in good quality extra virgin olive oil) is vastly overshadowed by the positives.
    Quote Originally Posted by theMarvelousMoment View Post
    ^ Olive oil is only about 6% n-6.
    Wikipedia says 3-21%, as does this site Chemical Characteristics | The Olive Oil Source - do you guys have any other sources? Also - ChocoTaco - you seem to be saying that good quality oil has less LA - why would this be? Because of the cold pressing? Or because only certain olives are used?

    Quote Originally Posted by theMarvelousMoment View Post
    It's also been shown to lower levels of n6 PUFAs in the body.
    How does it lower the n6 PUFA's? Might well be the case if the olive oil replaces sunflower oil, but not necessarily if it replaces say coconut oil, no?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thor Falk View Post
    How does it lower the n6 PUFA's? Might well be the case if the olive oil replaces sunflower oil, but not necessarily if it replaces say coconut oil, no?
    Dunno, but - Dietary supplementation with olive oil leads t... [Med Sci Monit. 2004] - PubMed - NCBI

    My olive oil is 6g / 100g total PUFA. It's extra virgin, 'only mechanical extraction'.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thor Falk View Post
    Wikipedia says 3-21%, as does this site Chemical Characteristics | The Olive Oil Source - do you guys have any other sources? Also - ChocoTaco - you seem to be saying that good quality oil has less LA - why would this be? Because of the cold pressing? Or because only certain olives are used?
    The link you posted answers your question for you:

    Regarding the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), there is a wide range acceptable for extra virgin olive oil, however the linolenic acid has to be less than 0.9% per the International Olive Oil Council (IOOC) guidelines. Higher levels, e.g. 1.5%, do not present a nutritional problem, but the IOOC uses the linolenic acid level to establish the authenticity of the olive oil. Seed oils like canola oil have higher levels of linolenic acid.
    The wild swing is likely due to the grades of olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil would have the least, followed by virgin, pure, light and extra light, at least I would assume so. If you're buying cheaper Shop Rite brand or something, you may not get something as good as you'd get from Trader Joe's in a dark green bottle that burns like a shot of vodka on the way down. Note that is says "linolenic", so that means overall PUFA content. Extra virgin olive oil should have less PUFA's in general, meaning less omega 6 and less omega 3. "Linoleic", by comparison, is just an omega 6.
    Last edited by ChocoTaco369; 11-21-2011 at 11:17 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChocoTaco369 View Post
    The link you posted answers your question for you:



    The wild swing is likely due to the grades of olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil would have the least, followed by virgin, pure, light and extra light, at least I would assume so. If you're buying cheaper Shop Rite brand or something, you may not get something as good as you'd get from Trader Joe's in a dark green bottle that burns like a shot of vodka on the way down. Note that is says "linolenic", so that means overall PUFA content. Extra virgin olive oil should have less PUFA's in general, meaning less omega 6 and less omega 3. "Linoleic", by comparison, is just an omega 6.
    Arent linoleic acid and linolenic acid two completely different things, linoleic acid being omega-6 and linolenic acid being omega-3? The way I read the article is that the omega-3 is restricted, but there is a wide variation in omega-6 (the said 3-20%), and it is the omega-6 that I am personally worried about.

    As a matter of interest - how do you know the linoleic acid content of your olive oil? I have checked on quite a few bottles (including expensive one's) and I havent found it indicated anywhere

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    They don't indicated total PUFA content?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thor Falk View Post
    Arent linoleic acid and linolenic acid two completely different things, linoleic acid being omega-6 and linolenic acid being omega-3?
    Linolenic acid is a blanket term for EFA's - essential fatty acids. Remember, omega 6's are essential fatty acid's as well. Your body can't synthesize them, so both omega 3 and omega 6 must be ingested. Then, the EFA's are further broken down into alpha- and gamma-linolenic acid.

    Omega 3 is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA, which is further broken down into EPA and DHA).

    Omega 6 is gamma-linolenic acid (or linoleic acid, which is then further broken down into gamma linolenic acid, dihomo gamma linolenic acid, arachidonic acid (the primary n-6 in animal fat) and docosatetraenoic acid).

    Simple, right? Who comes up with these names?

    Quote Originally Posted by Thor Falk View Post
    The way I read the article is that the omega-3 is restricted, but there is a wide variation in omega-6 (the said 3-20%), and it is the omega-6 that I am personally worried about.
    It's all EFA's in general that are restricted according to the article. It doesn't specify alpha or gamma. FWIW, it's worse to heat omega 3's than omega 6's because omega 3's are even longer chain and therefore more unstable. I'd rather heat safflower oil than flax oil or fish oil.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thor Falk View Post
    As a matter of interest - how do you know the linoleic acid content of your olive oil? I have checked on quite a few bottles (including expensive one's) and I havent found it indicated anywhere
    I don't know, but if it's extra virgin it has to be on the lower end. I wouldn't worry about extra virgin olive oil as it's probably the most researched and time-tested oil in out there. I usually choose it over coconut oil and I seem to be pretty damn healthy.
    Last edited by ChocoTaco369; 11-21-2011 at 08:21 PM.
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