` The FDA’s Take on the Benefits of Olive Oil - Olive Oil Times

The FDA’s Take on the Benefits of Olive Oil

Feb. 26, 2014
Sukhsatej Batra

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Nearly a decade ago, the Food and Drug Administration allowed a qual­i­fied health claim on food labels of olive oil in response to a peti­tion filed by the North American Olive Oil Association. The stamp of approval in the form of the qual­i­fied health claim, and increased aware­ness of the ben­e­fits may explain the higher intake of olive oil by Americans in recent years.

The claim states that daily con­sump­tion of about 2 table­spoons, or 23 grams of olive oil, may reduce the risk of coro­nary heart dis­ease. The deci­sion to allow the claim was made after the FDA found suf­fi­cient evi­dence to con­clude that monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acids, nat­u­rally present in olive oil, may pre­vent heart dis­ease.
See more: Health Benefits of Olive Oil
The sci­en­tific lit­er­a­ture reviewed by the FDA showed that replac­ing sat­u­rated fatty acids with monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acids reduced lev­els of serum total cho­les­terol and serum LDL cho­les­terol, both of which are known to increase the risk of coro­nary heart dis­ease. However, only some of the reviewed stud­ies reported an increase in HDL-cho­les­terol which, as the good” cho­les­terol, may reduce the risk of coro­nary heart dis­ease at high lev­els.

From their find­ings, the FDA deter­mined that a min­i­mum daily intake of 17.5 grams of monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acids from olive oil is needed to exert a pos­i­tive effect on the reduc­tion of coro­nary heart dis­ease.

With monoun­sat­u­rated con­tent of olive oil as high as 74 per­cent, only 23 grams of olive oil are needed to sup­ply the required 17.5 grams of monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acids. This amounts to 1.7 table­spoons of olive oil, which is con­veyed as about 2 table­spoons every day in the qual­i­fied health claim.

For olive oil to help reduce the risk of heart dis­ease, the claim fur­ther states that olive oil should replace an equiv­a­lent amount of sat­u­rated fat in the diet. Similarly, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2010) states that Consuming less than 10 per­cent of calo­ries from sat­u­rated fatty acids and replac­ing them with monoun­sat­u­rated and/or polyun­sat­u­rated fatty acids is asso­ci­ated with low blood cho­les­terol lev­els, and there­fore a lower risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease.”

In addi­tion to monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acids, the pres­ence of antiox­i­dants and vit­a­min E in olive oil are often asso­ci­ated as fac­tors that may pre­vent heart dis­ease, reports the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center.

In the last cau­tion­ary state­ment that fol­lows the ini­tial health claim, it is clear that the FDA does not want you to go over­board and increase your intake of total fat. After all, olive oil is still a fat and pro­vides the same amount of calo­ries per gram as other dietary fats. Based on the USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (Release 26), the rec­om­mended 23 grams of olive oil would con­tribute about 203 calo­ries. To pre­vent an increase in calo­ries from fat, olive oil should be used to replace, and not add to the other fats present in your diet.

More Americans rec­og­nize the health ben­e­fits of olive oil and have made it part of their diet. This is evi­dent as olive oil con­sump­tion in the U.S. has seen a dra­matic increase of 5 per­cent every year between 2008 and 2012, accord­ing to the U.S. International Trade Commission.


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