Olive Oil and Omega 9 Fatty Acids

Olive oil’s chief fat, oleic acid (ClgH3402), is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent thought to benefit the immune system, brain, heart, and skin. By volume, olive oil is 55-85 percent oleic acid.181 Chemists classify it a monounsaturated omega 9 fatty acid. Unlike polyunsaturated omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, omega 9s are unessential because the body can manufacture them from other compounds. Unessential does not mean unimportant. Most of the body’s cells use more omega 9s than other fatty acids to construct membranes. Readers may recall from Chapter 2 and an earlier section that the brain is about 70 percent fat and so requires many omega 9 fatty acids. Oleic acid and other omega 9s may protect against type 2 diabetes.182 Research credits them with reducing triglycerides and cholesterol—Chapter 2 defines both—in blood.

Comparisons among Olive, Soybean, and Peanut Oils

Olive oil is not the only fat under scrutiny. Soybean oil receives attention because it totals three- quarters of U.S. vegetable oil consumption and supplies about 20 percent of Americans’ calories.183 In 2008, the average American ingested over 300 more calories daily than in 1985.184 Ninety-three percent of this increase came from sucrose, HFCS, and fat. This fat was largely soybean oil, which supplied, and continues to furnish, most omega 6 fatty acids in U.S. diets.185 A 2018 paper ranked soybean oil first among vegetable oils in consumption worldwide between 2009 and 2011, the latest years for which it had data.186 During this time, soybean oil tallied 30.3 percent of world vegetable oil intake, nearly 12 percent above second-place palm oil’s 18.6 percent.

During maturation, soybeans store fat chiefly as triglycerides at over 99 percent of oil by weight after processing.187 Of the fatty acids in these triglycerides, the omega 6 linoleic acid—whose formula was stated earlier—constitutes 53.2 percent and the omega 3 linolenic acid (C18H30O2) totals 7.8 percent.188 The ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 in soybean oil, therefore, is 6.8:1, not the 1:1

recommendation mentioned throughout this chapter.189 Soybean oil is 23.4 percent oleic acid, about one-third olive oil’s value.

Compared to soybean oil, olive oil is 10 percent linoleic acid and 0.6 percent linolenic acid, for a 16.7:1 omega 6 to omega 3 ratio.190 Simopoulos criticized American and European diets for eating fourteen to twenty times more omega 6s than omega 3s.191 Yet olive oil has a worse omega 6 to omega 3 ratio than soybean oil. Readers may question olive oil’s healthfulness given that she implicated fatty-acid imbalance in heart disease, stroke, cancers, obesity, type 2 diabetes, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, mental illness, and Alzheimer’s disease.192

With olive oil in the Mediterranean and soybean oil in the United States, geography broadens by examining peanut oil, which is popular for frying in Africa and East, South, and Southeast Asia and which is 31.4 percent linoleic acid but lacks linolenic acid.193 This disparity cannot approach a balanced fatty acid ratio. Among peanut oil’s fatty acids, half are monounsaturated, 30 percent are polyunsaturated, and the remaining 20 percent are saturated.194

Besides fatty acids, 100 grams of olive oil, as mentioned, supply 95.7 percent DV for vitamin E and 75.3 percent for vitamin K. The USDA lists no other vitamins and few' minerals for olive oil.195 By comparison, Table 10.6 indicates that 100 grams of soybean oil have 54.5 percent DV for

TABLE 10.6

Calories and Nutrients in Soybean and Peanut Oils 100g

Nutrient

Soybean Oil

%DV

Peanut Oil

%DV

Calories

884

N/A

884

N/A

Protein (g)

0

N/A

0

N/A

Fat(g)

100

N/A

100

N/A

Carbs (g)

0

N/A

0

N/A

Fiber (g)

0

N/A

0

N/A

Minerals

Ca (mg)

0

0

0

0

Fe (mg)

0.05

0.3

0.03

0.2

Mg (mg)

0

0

0

0

P (mg)

0

0

0

0

К (mg)

0

0

0

0

Na (mg)

0

0

0

0

Zn (mg)

0.01

0.06

0.01

0.06

Cu (mg)

0

0

0

0

Mn (mg)

0

0

0

0

Se (meg)

0

0

0

0

Vitamins

A (IU)

0

0

0

0

B, (mg)

0

0

0

0

B2 (mg)

0

0

0

0

B, (mg)

0

0

0

0

B5 (mg)

0

0

0

0

B„ (mg)

0

0

0

0

B, (meg)

0

0

0

0

Bl2 (meg)

0

0

0

0

C (mg)

0

0

0

0

D (IU)

0

0

0

0

E (mg)

8.18

54.5

15.69

104.6

К (meg)

183.9

229.9

0.7

0.9

vitamin E, 229.9 percent for vitamin K, under 1 percent for iron and zinc, and no other nutrients.196 One hundred grams of peanut oil exceed vitamin E’s DV and provide 0.9 percent of vitamin K’s DV, below 1 percent for iron and zinc, and no other nutrients.197 All three oils have plentiful vitamin E, and olive oil and soybean oil are also rich in vitamin K.

 
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