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July 04, 2008



Bless you or curse you, my dilemma at the moment, Deb! Thank you I will, however, for pulling all this great information together in an easy to digest format. I, too, will miss all that great olive oil. And now, I will have more reason to actually consume that flaxseed oil in the fridge, in small amounts, of course. Have a great week!


Gerhardt J. Steinke

EXCELLENT! Kudos to Modest Medical Librarian.

In a world of information overload, SUCCINCT SUMMARIES of this quality are in short supply. VERY NICELY DONE. I met with Dr. Esselstyn last spring and have several copies of his book. Other books cited on Happy Healthy Long Live web site are also on my short list.



Juanita Driggs

As you said, everything in moderation so I'll keep enjoying extra virgin olive oil, thank you very much. If I slavishly followed every little prevention nugget floated out there I'd eventually starve to death albeit in a very healthful state I'm sure.

The Healthy Librarian

Hi Juanita,
Well it's been over 5 months since I wrote this--& I do still have olive oil on my counter--I just use it in much smaller amounts--and on occasion. I only rarely do the "bread dipped in olive oil thing" & I use it sparingly (I measure) when I cook with it.

I don't think anything is absolutely awful for you "once in a while" if you're eating mostly whole foods like greens, multi-colored veggies, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds & whole grains. Face it--olive oil is all fat, but a little does makes food taste good & keeps me satisfied. But it's not the miracle food that some people think it is.

Chris G.

Wow. Who knew? I'd imagine canola is cheaper anyway.

Paige Westerfield

Ho hum- yet another thing to stop fooling myself about. This is a good thing- even over my inner protests I know this


When I read these findings (very well summed up in this blog post!) I see a wonderful reminder about living with moderation. It's incredibly easy to get tricked into thinking that one thing is the perfect food through marketing when, in reality, nothing is healthy in excess. In my opinion, this includes completely forgoing olive oil.


Glad to read these reports about Olive Oil. I am going to use less...too bad. I do have a couple of questions about both Canola Oil, and also Flax seed oil. I have heard that Canola oil was a 'gear' oil, and has to be detoxified for consumption, and that it is now safe to use because there is only a tiny bit of the toxin left, but I haver also heard that even that little bit of toxin, is accumulative in the body. Also I understand that Flax seed is great for us, but oxidizes within a very short time when broken out of its shells, - I heard within 15 minutes. To keep it from being oxidized, the manufacturers put the oil in dark bottles, but it seems to me this will not really work very well, and we will be consuming rancid oil, if we do not grind it out ourselves, and eat a few short minutes afterwards.

Toni Kulma

Thanks for this information. I keep my flax seeds in the Freezer and only grind enough for about a week. I keep that in the freezer also.


Wowza. I

It's soy, not olive oil, but I think we might find similar things with soy. I've decided to stop drinking soy milk, or using it in my smoothies. I've found oat "milk" to be lovely tasting. (I didn't like Hemp, and rice milk doesn't feel as nutritious.)


I think only half my comment appeared in the "preview box"... The version I saw (and now I can't see it) was missing how sad I was and how I too felt like there was no Santa Claus. Olive oil is in my DNA and I don't know how I'll make my spaghetti sauce!

(forgive me if you get this twice!)


After reading your stuff here, i wondered about using Walnut oil? I consume flaxseed meal regularly in smoothies.

The Healthy Librarian

If you apply the logic that flax is good & its oil is good, you would think that since walnuts are good for us (in moderation) then walnut oil would be good.

I am definitely not an expert by any means, but I do know that too many omega-6s (linoleic acid) is not so good, and looking at Evelyn Tribole's (she's a registered dietitian & author & a healthy oil expert) Omega 6 tracker--walnut oil is very high in omega 6's--which are inflammatory. Maybe keep down to a little for taste--it's not supposed to be heated at high temps. Check out Evelyn's website/blog at: and see if she has an answer about walnut oil.

Omega-6 Fat Tracker:OilsPer 1 Tbsp Linoleic Acid/mg

Avocado oil 1750
Blueberry oil 6308
Boysenberry oil 7801
Canola oil 2550
Caraway oil 8470
Carrot oil 1913
Corn oil 7280
Cottonseed oil 7020
Cranberry oil 6567
Flaxseed oil 1730
Grapeseed oil 9470
Hemp oil 8694
HempNut oil 8265
Marionberry oil 9106
Mustard oil 2150
Oat oil 5310
Olive oil 1320
Palm oil 1240
Peanut oil 4320
Red raspberry oil 7685
Rice bran oil 4540
Sesame oil 5620
Sheanut oil 670
Soybean oil 6940
Soybean oil, hydrogenated 4750
Sunflower oil, high-oleic (>70%) 500
Sunflower oil, less than 60% linoleic 5410
Tea seed oil 3020
Tomato seed oil 6910
Walnut oil 7190
Wheat germ oil 7450

I know there's more to the story than just the numbers--but maybe Evelyn can help.

Bottom line: just ditch the added oils (of any kind) as much as you can.



how should vit D be taken. Is there a vegan form?

The Healthy Librarian

If you want the vegan form of vitamin D, get it from the sun, or take D2, not D3 which is derived from lanolin.

Here's some info from the Vegan Society

Doctors have recently been saying D3 was superior to D2 (the common form of D found in supplemented food), but recent research by Dr. Michael Holick has shown that both forms, D2 & D3, will raise vitamin D levels in the blood equivalently.

To read most latest post on Vitamin D, click here:

"Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Vitamin D from the Expert, Dr. Michael Holick. How Much Do We Need? Why Is It So Hard to Get Enough? What About Breast-Fed Babies? Why Is It So Important for Good Health?"

Vegans and Vitamin D

Vegans usually obtain vitamin D from the action of sunlight on the skin or by taking fortified foods such as soya milk, margarine (all of which are fortified by law in the UK) and vitamin supplements which are made from yeast or other fungi. Fortified vegan products contain D2 (ergocalciferol). Foods with naturally occurring vitamin D are, however, usually animal derived containing the vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol).

The most significant supply of vitamin D (for omnivores as well as vegans) comes from the action of ultra-violet B light on sterols in the skin. Most people, including infants require little or no extra from food when regularly exposed to sunlight when the sun is high in the sky. Bright sunlight is not necessary; even the sky shine on a cloudy summer day will stimulate formation of some D in the skin, while a short summer holiday in the open air will increase blood levels of the vitamin by two or three times the amount.

Hope this answers your question!


I have been doing a lot of research over the past two weeks about the benefits of Olive Oil, Omega 3's, etc. I found information that states that oil is oil and Omega 3's raise your total cholesterol and LDLs. This can be because in the last couple of years huge amounts taken daily was recommended for lowering bad cholesterol. I found this info on different sites. Now as far as Extra Virgin Olive Oil is concerned, it is a part of the Mediterranean Diet which is touted as the most healthy way any one can eat. I decided to take less Omega 3s than I have been and use less Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I believe it is the excess that is harmful, but if these oils are used in moderation, I am sure they do more good than harm.

Hank Roberts


My wife pointed me to your site -- but it's already become overwhelming.
Too much information.

Can you come up with a sidebar or page that has just basic eating information for getting through the day, day after day?

I don't care about the sauces and seasonings, I'm old enough to have lost enough sense of smell I guess. Delicious is for youngsters, or else for people who have cooks or time to cook complicated stuff.

OR, it's possible -- but I need your help to sort out what's useful.
Scratch olive oil and nuts. Okay, what's left?

I'd eat broccoli and brussels sprouts and apples at every meal -- if I could get them. I will, as soon as I retire. It'll be a while yet. That's stuff a commuting officeworker can't find for lunch, or can't always have time to cook for breakfast and dinner

Meanwhile -- simplify, simplify. Please give some very basic "If you have to do the simplest food you can get, get this ...."


Can you please cite references for your statement that olive oil was not used in the Lyon diet study? The researchers (from France) said that both olive oil and canola oil were recommended to participants. Presumably, since the study authors are French, the participants would also be French. It makes no sense to say that olive oil was excluded because the participants didn't like the taste. It is well documented that the French use plenty of olive oil.

"In the Lyon Diet Heart Study, investigators tested a Mediterranean type of diet (total fat represented 30% of energy) focusing on the quality of the fat (olive and canola oils exclusively), an increased consumption of cereals, bread, vegetables, legumes, fruit and a moderately increased consumption of fish'61. The three trials had in common an increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids."


The Healthy Librarian

Hi Judy,

That's what everyone thought--since olive oil is THE oil used in the Mediterranean.

Here's the cite that mentions the switch of olive oil to canola--I can look at some of the original articles to verify this:

Authors: Vogel RA. Corretti MC. Plotnick GD.
Authors Full NameVogel, R A. Corretti, M C. Plotnick, G D.

Institution: Department of Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA. [email protected]

Title: The postprandial effect of components of the Mediterranean diet on endothelial function.

Source: Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 36(5):1455-60, 2000 Nov 1.

Abstract OBJECTIVES: This study investigated the postprandial effect of components of the Mediterranean diet on endothelial function, which may be an atherogenic factor.

BACKGROUND: The Mediterranean diet, containing olive oil, pasta, fruits, vegetables, fish, and wine, is associated with an unexpectedly low rate of cardiovascular events.

The Lyon Diet Heart Study found that a Mediterranean diet, which substituted omega-3-fatty-acid-enriched canola oil for the traditionally consumed omega-9 fatty-acid-rich olive oil, reduced cardiovascular events.

METHODS: We fed 10 healthy, normolipidemic subjects five meals containing 900 kcal and 50 g fat. Three meals contained different fat sources: olive oil, canola oil, and salmon. Two olive oil meals also contained antioxidant vitamins (C and E) or foods (balsamic vinegar and salad). We measured serum lipoproteins and glucose and brachial artery flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD), an index of endothelial function, before and 3 h after each meal. RESULTS: All five meals significantly raised serum triglycerides, but did not change other lipoproteins or glucose 3 h postprandially. The olive oil meal reduced FMD 31% (14.3 +/- 4.2% to 9.9 +/- 4.5%, p = 0.008). An inverse correlation was observed between postprandial changes in serum triglycerides and FMD (r = -0.47, p < 0.05). The remaining four meals did not significantly reduce FMD.

CONCLUSIONS: In terms of their postprandial effect on endothelial function, the beneficial components of the Mediterranean and Lyon Diet Heart Study diets appear to be antioxidant-rich foods, including vegetables, fruits, and their derivatives such as vinegar, and omega-3-rich fish and canola oils.


thank you so much for an extremely informative and comprehensive discussion on Olive Oil. Too often, people stream 140 characters of health advice and opinion. I really appreciate your clinical approach.


I was on a very low fat/oil diet for a few months trying to figure out a diet for MS and it was pretty bad - no, no energy at all and my skin got all flaky. It couldn't have done me any good. I was eating whatever fruit, veggie and grain I wanted and got a great variety. Avocado was limited to 1/8 per day, however. What does this couple say about a fat intake level necessary to synthesize fat soluble vitamins and keep an energy level up?


What about coconut oil? I've been reading a lot about it lately and have been substitutding coconut oil for olive or canola oil when cooking at high heat, espcially when baking as many vegan baking recipes call for oil.



Doesn't flax seed oil lose its omega potency once heated?

Also, doesn't it have phytoestrogenic properties?


The Healthy Librarian


I don't use flax seed oil--just ground flax seeds. Never ever heat flax oil!! Don't know much about the phytoestrogenic properties of flax--but perhaps you're referring to its high lignan content (highest of all plants) which is purported to be beneficial in preventing breast cancer--works as an "excess estrogen remover". Speaking off the top of my head here--haven't looked at that research in awhile.


If I cut olive oil from my salad, how should season that ? Any suggestion ?

Rena Rogers

After all of the hype that olive oil and Mediterranean diet was the best type of diet along with daily vitamins and now we are told that vitamins cut ones life short and olive oil is inflammatory and promotes cardiovascular disease! I'm exhausted trying to find answers to healthy living. Totally demoralized as I have taken vitamins for years as well as used olive oil while completely eliminating margarine/butter!

margot weening

coconut oil seems to be different from all the others and is not processed in the same way. would you please go out and do the same level of research that you applied to above studies-i have researched it quite a bit and feel safe using it although i do have CAD and my doctor has put me on crestor-i relented and take a 5 mg. pill every other day. Nor am i sure that it is a good idea at all. i use coconut oil for my sauteing and in my baking-i warm it to melting point and substitute it for any other kind. even dr. mehmet oz has come out for it-i was surprised and grateful as he is a very good cardiologist, as has dr. stephen sinatra. will look for your response. thank you.

The Healthy Librarian

Hi Margot,

I have looked into coconut oil. The real research--in medical journals--is scanty. Just a few studies, & mostly animal studies. Honestly, in spite of what Dr. Oz says, I'd stay away. It's still a lot of calories--and highly saturated--even if it's a medium chain triglyceride. You don't need oil to saute and have delicious food. You don't need oil to bake--and bottom line: most baked goods are sugar, fat, & flour--not the top nutrient choices. Coconut oil might not be atherogenic--or inflammatory--I just don't know. But it's still highly caloric, and a fat that you can live without.

Pat McNerthney

Jeff Novick's article on coconut oil call Marketing Junk Food: Don't Go Cuckoo Over Coconut Oil:

The Healthy Librarian

Thank you, Pat, for posting this. I emailed Margot personally with what I knew about coconut oil (just in case she didn't revisit this post for the answer)--and what I read in the research (there's very little)--but this is so much better. Jeff did a fantastic job--and now his link is up for anyone else to see who visits this post!

And now I have a handy response the next time this question comes up==which is will. People think (want to think) that coconut oil is a miracle food--maybe it is as a body lotion--but that's about it!

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