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"Heart-Healthy" Label Approved for Olive Oil

In another wrong-headed move by the FDA, food containing olive oil can now carry labels saying they may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Citing limited research, the FDA claims olive oil, when substituted for saturated fats, reduces one's overall risk of heart disease.

It's certainly good news for the American Olive Oil Association that has been seeking to make that claim for more than a year. Although the association had asked the FDA for permission to make a "heart-healthy" claim for monounsaturated fats contained in just one tablespoon of olive oil per day, government regulators didn't bend quite that far.

However, olive oil and certain food containing olive oil can now indicate that "limited and not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that eating about two tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to the monounsaturated fat in olive oil," according to the FDA.

Much of the interest in legitimizing olive oil as a healthy food has to do with the popularity of the Mediterranean diet. While olive oil can and should be a healthy part of your diet, what most people do not appreciate is that olive oil should not be used to cook with.

Olive oil is primarily a monounsaturated fat, which means it has one double bond in its fatty acid structure. The problem with olive oil is its overabundance of oleic acid, which creates an imbalance on the cellular level that can inhibit prostaglandin production, which can increase the risk of breast cancer and heart disease.

So if you plan on using a cooking oil, your clear choice is coconut oil, rich in lauric acid and a proven antiviral and immune system builder.

ABC News November 1, 2004

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