Cancer — While we can’t say that being obese or overweight causes cancer, consistent evidence indicates that higher levels of body fat are associated with increased risks for certain types of cancer, including breast cancer, kidney cancer, colorectal cancer, and endometrial cancer. In fact, overweight women are two to four times more likely to develop endometrial cancer (a type of cancer that begins in the uterus).
The kidneys play an important role in metabolizing protein, and it’s possible that eating too much of the nutrient can have a negative impact on kidney function. While ketogenic diets are supposed to be much higher in fat than they are in protein, many keto eaters make the mistake of loading up on lots of meat, Mancinelli says. The result? You could end up eating way more protein than you actually need.
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But much has changed on Crete – and throughout the Mediterranean – since then. Today, the people of Crete still eat a lot of olive oil, but their intake of whole, natural foods has gone way down, as has their physical activity. The island’s new staples are meat, cheese, TV, and the Internet. Today, more than 60% of Crete’s adult population – and an alarming 50% of its children – are overweight.
Olive oil cuts hunger. You won’t burn belly fat (or any fat, for that matter) unless you first take in fewer calories than your body needs to fuel itself. “And you won’t stick with a low-cal approach if you’re constantly hungry,” says Palinksi-Wade. That’s why using olive oil to reduce belly fat and lose weight is a no-brainer. “You often hear that protein or fiber help control hunger, but I find olive oil is equally if not more powerful.” Explanation: Olive oil is made up of 75 percent oleic acid, a substance shown to help us feel content for hours longer between meals. For this reason, Palinski-Wade actually includes more olive oil on the lowest-calorie version of her plan. “Olive oil is extremely filling.”
Welcome to the 21st century, where the low-fat diet is slowly but definitely on its way out to make room for a higher fat, lower carbohydrate diet. For decades we have been following the faulty advice to reduce our fat intake to a bare minimum while increasing the amount of sugar in everything. Even a well-known brand of packaged macaroni and cheese contains added sugar, leaving us wondering why noodles and cheese might possibly need to be sweetened.
"I'll typically have two chocolate peanut butter fat bombs. They save me. Lately, there’s been a keto cheesecake in the fridge and I’ll sneak a bite, but won’t have a whole piece. I try not to go too hard on the snacks anymore. I’m noticing that laying off the almond flours, coconut flours, and baked sweets has helped me feel better overall. If I want a crunch I’m reaching for the pork cracklings."
And monounsaturated fat isn't the only thing olive oil has going for it nutritionally. Some olive oils come with phytonutrients that may offer their own disease protection benefits (still, it's not clear whether most of us can take in enough of these phytonutrients without going overboard on olive oil, says Joyce Nettleton, DSc, RD, researcher and editor of the PUFA Newsletter).