Recently there has been an appearance of several vegetable and seed oil companies that have been asserting that seed oils have less saturated fat than olive oil, suggesting that these oils are healthier choices compared with olive oil.
One of the main points they make is that olive oil has double the amount of saturated fat than other seed or vegetable oils. They continue by claiming that by switching to the seed or vegetable oil you can cut your intake of saturated fat drastically. This is problematic for two reasons:
1. The main sources of saturated fat obviously do not come from olive oil, which is 75 percent monounsaturated fat (known as the good fat). According to NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) data, olive oil is not even in the 25 top sources of saturated fat for Americans contributing less than one percent of saturated fat, (it was not even on the list).
The top ten sources of saturated fat in the American diet are: cheese, pizza, grain based desserts, dairy desserts, chicken and chicken mixed dishes, sausage, franks, bacon, and ribs, burgers, Mexican mixed dishes, beef and beef mixed dishes, and reduced fat milk. Therefore, the argument of switching from olive oil to seed oil in order to reduce saturated fat intake is a weak one and deceiving, considering the main sources of saturated fat are basically junk food.
If one wishes to reduce saturated fat intake, it would be much more effective to cut down on cheese, pizza, desserts and other foods.
2. Saying that olive oil has more saturated fat than a seed oil, and is therefore healthier, is simplistic and simply not true. Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats and low in the polyunsaturated fats associated with inflammation that Americans and other westernized nations are already getting too much of in processed foods.
What they do not say when they make this claim is that extra virgin olive oil has several other substances, mainly polyphenols, that are responsible for the multitude of benefits. These polyphenols are not present in other vegetable and seed oils, and that means that they do not have any of the health benefits associated with olive oil.