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Olive oil is good for your heart’s health

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FDA says olive oil is good for your health

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First published: Nov 19, 2018


On November 19, 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognized that oleic acid (found in olive oil and other natural sources) taken in daily doses of 1 and a half tablespoons as a replacement for saturated fats may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

This means it is time to replace butter, lard, palm oil, or coconut oil -all of which are saturated fats- with oils rich in oleic acid.

bottle with olive oils and some fresh olives
Olive oil, a natural ingredient in cosmetics. Source

Oleic Acid is good for your heart

Cautious as ever, the (1) after reviewing the scientific data regarding the health benefits of oleic acid, has decided to back a qualified health claim that states that consuming oleic acid in edible oils, such as sunflower oil, canola oil, olive oil, or high oleic algal oil may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

Don't let the word "acid" in oleic acid worry you; all fats are "acids."

The FDA guidelines are the following:

  • The oils must contain at least 70% oleic acid per serving.
  • The daily dose is 1 ½ tablespoon (or 20 grams) of this type of oil.
  • The high oleic oil should replace "fats or oils higher in saturated fat."
  • The "extra" oil you intake shouldn't increase the number of calories you eat daily (so use it to replace something else that you eat).

This "qualified health claim" is of the type that is supported by credible scientific evidence but does not meet the stricter standard required for it to be proclaimed as an "Authorized FDA health claim."

Saturated fat

These are easy to identify: they are fats that are solid at room temperature.

Below is a list of foods with a high content of saturated fats:

  • Fatty cuts of meat.
  • Cream, ice cream.
  • Lard, butter, and ghee.
  • Palm oil and coconut oil.
  • Chocolate and chocolate spreads.
  • Full fat cheese.

The FDA suggests replacing saturated fat with oleic acid.

Mediterranean Diet

Olive oil is a main ingredient in the Mediterranean diet (along with whole grains, fish, vegetables, fruit), and its health benefits have been recognized by the people living in Southern Europe for centuries.

In 2011 the FDA's counterpart in Europe (European Food Safety Authority or EFSA) approved health claims stating that olive oil's polyphenols (antioxidants) protect against oxidation of blood lipids and contribute to maintaining normal levels of LDL cholesterol.

What is oleic acid?

Oleic acid is a fatty acid which is found in many animal and vegetable fats. It has a chain of eighteen carbon atoms linked with single bonds to each other, except for carbon atoms 9 and 10 that are bound by a double bond.

Oleic content of some oils:

  • 55-83% olive oil.
  • 60-75% pecan oil.
  • 61% canola oil.
  • 36-66% peanut oil.
  • 20-80% sunflower oil.
  • 15-20% grape seed oil.
  • 37-56% of chicken or turkey fat.

Read More: Olive Oil Health Benefits

> > Olive Oil and its health benefits.

Oleic acid can also be found naturally in many foods such as eggs, beef, chicken, pork, cheese, nuts, sunflower seeds, milk, olives, and avocados.

A diet including these natural sources can provide health benefits!

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References and Further Reading

(1) Food and Drug Administration, (2018). FDA Completes Review of Qualified Health Claim Petition for Oleic Acid and the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease. November 19, 2018. Accessed: 08.Sept.2023

About this Article

Olive oil is good for your heart’s health, A. Whittall

©2018, 19 Nov. 2018. Update scheduled for 08 Sept. 2026.

Tags: olive oil, heart disease, diet, Mediterranean Diet, health news

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