Olive oil joins foods containing omega-3 fats, like salmon and walnuts, for example, as an elite category of healthy fatty acids. Olive oil has a ton of research backing its health benefits — in fact, it’s so backed by research that the FDA even permits labels on olive oil bottles containing a specific health claim (to date this is only allowed on olive oil, omega-3 fats and walnuts). That claim?
Now, in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, scientists have found that seniors who adhered most closely to the Mediterranean diet were the least likely to be become frail over a four-year study period. Recently, in the Journal of Urology, researchers also found that men who followed a diet rich in fish, produce and olive oil—and low in juice—had a lower risk of aggressive prostate cancer than those who followed low-fat or typical Western diets.
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.”
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).