Diet and Nutrition
Olive Oil: A Weight Loss Blessing
By Dr. Connie Peraglie Guttersen,
Author of The
In Sonoma County each year, theres
a special festival called the Blessing of the Olives. Thats how central
olive trees and the foods they yield are to the economy and the eating
habits of the region.
Olive oil, the most treasured gift of
these blessed trees, is just as central to The Sonoma Diet. Theres
probably no food choice youll make that does more for your health and
weight loss efforts than olive oil.
Which is good news for your taste buds,
because no other vegetable oil comes close to olive oils rich and
pleasing flavor. Its at the heart of Mediterranean cuisines appeal.
A dish prepared with olive oil almost seems to announce to anyone who smells or
tastes it, Im special.
research is clear as can be that a major reason for southern Europeans
low rate of heart disease is their liberal use of olive oil as their main
source of dietary fat. By adopting olive oil in the same way, youll get
the same benefits. And because youll learn to enjoy olive oil in healthy
amounts in place of the harmful fats you may be used to, you will lose
To appreciate olive oil as a power food,
banish from your mind the notion that its the least bad fat.
It is a heart-healthy food that is good for you. You need dietary fat to lose
weight, but you need the right kind. Olive oil is one of the best. Choose
extra-virgin olive oil and youll also enhance the flavors of your
Put simply, the kind of fat that olive
oil is mostly made of (monounsaturated fat) actually lowers your levels of the
bad LDL cholesterol as well as blood fats called triglycerides. The fats
youll be avoiding (saturated fat) raise those levels. That right there
qualifies olive oil as a power food par excellence.
A Wealth of
But theres more. Unique among vegetable oils, olive
oil -- particularly extra-virgin olive oil -- is rich in the same family of
antioxidant phytonutrients that make all the other power foods on the Top Ten
list so effective in preventing heart disease. The same phenols that make olive
oil taste so good also make up its main category of antioxidants. Olive oil
also contains carotenoids (like beta-carotene) and vitamin E.
In addition, olive oil reduces two other
heart disease risks -- high blood pressure and inflammation.
Theres Fat and
Then Theres Fat
As the title tells us, not all fats were
created alike. There are three naturally occurring types of fat: saturated,
monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated, as well as one manufactured fat, known as
hydrogenated oil (commonly referred to as trans fat).
The majority of the types of fat you
should eat come mostly from plant oils. The healthiest are led by
monounsaturated fats, such as extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, canola oil, and
avocados. Other healthy oils are found in the polyunsaturated category, such as
grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, and the omega-3 oils found in some cold-water
fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts.
The kind of fat you must limit eating is
the saturated fat found mostly in animal foods such as meats and dairy
products, as well as those found in palm and coconut oils. This does not mean
you cant eat meat or dairy. You can. But it does mean that you must seek
the lean or nonfat versions of meat or dairy foods.
You can recognize saturated fat because
its solid at room temperature or lower -- the white rimming a steak, the
marble in prime rib, the chicken fat that skims a soup in the fridge, a stick
of butter. Its primary sin is raising the levels of bad LDL cholesterol in your
arteries, inviting heart disease. In fact, saturated fat ups your blood
cholesterol more than dietary cholesterol itself. Hydrogenated oils should be
avoided because they have far worse effects on your health and heart than
Copyright © 2006 Dr. Connie
Guttersen, R.D., Ph.D. from the book
Sonoma Diet by Dr. Connie Guttersen, R.D., Ph.D. Published by Meredith
Books; December 2005
Dr. Connie Peraglie
Guttersen, R.D., Ph.D., a leading nutrition expert, has devoted her career
to developing flavorful approaches to healthy eating and weight
registered dietitian, culinary professional, and nutrition consultant to the
world-famous Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, Dr. Guttersen delivers
key nutrition messages to the food industry, media, and health professionals by
bringing together the art and science of food. She has focused extensively on
the health benefits of diets inspired by Mediterranean and other regional
Guttersen's many accomplishments include developing the standards of care for a
medical obesity treatment center in Bellevue, Washington, as well as serving as
a nutrition consultant for a broad range of companies including Kraft, Nestle,
Sodexho Marriott, Radisson Hotels, Hyatt Classic Residences, and Panera
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