Olive oil is known for many of its health benefits, but new research shows that it may even help in weight loss. A study from the Technical University of Munich showed that fats in general, but olive oil in particular, increases feelings of fullness which may result in consuming less calories overall.
Fat is necessary in the diet not only for its essential fatty acids and for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins, but also to produce feelings of satiety. This is one of the reasons many individuals have a difficult time adhering to low fat diets as they may not feel full, so they eat more carbohydrates or other foods in order to compensate.
Work groups at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the University of Vienna studied four different fats and oils: Lard, butterfat, rapeseed oil (canola) and olive oil. Participants received 500 grams (18 ounces) of low-fat yoghurt enriched with one of the four fats or oils every day as a supplement to their normal diet for a period of 3 months.
According to Prof. Peter Schieberle, Head of the TUM Chair of Food Chemistry and Director of the German Research Center for Food Chemistry, olive oil had the biggest satiety effect. “The olive oil group showed a higher concentration of the satiety hormone serotonin in their blood and these participants also reported that they found the olive oil yogurt very filling,” Schieberle said. During the study period, no member of the olive oil group gained weight or saw an increase in their body fat percentage.
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The researchers believe that the aroma compounds of the olive oil may play a role and focused on that in the second part of the study. Participants were either given one yogurt with olive oil aroma extracts or plain yogurt. The olive oil group’s calorie intake remained the same, but the control group had been consuming 176 extra calories a day even though both yogurts had the same calories. It was noted in the study that the olive oil aroma group adapted their eating habits – but the control group participants were not able to do the same and they also found that in comparison to the aroma group, the control group had less of the satiety hormone serotonin in their blood.
This is not the first time satiety and olive oil have been studied. A University of California study had shown that oleic acid (a fatty acid abundant in olive oil), may prolong feelings of fullness between meals. Any type of fat provides satiety, however it appears that olive oil due to a number of factors may be more effective, and with its additional health benefits it can be the ideal fat to be used in the diet. It is important to note though that while olive oil may make you feel full longer, it needs to be used judiciously in order to achieve a balanced calorie intake.