The words “healthy” and oil have been used together for so long it has become part of our “common knowledge.” But like a lot of nutrition knowledge, what we know about oil is skewed. Before I explain why oil isn’t something you want to actively seek to add to your diet let me make three points:

  1. Olive oil is BETTER than butter, lard or tallow. But better than does not make it healthy.
  2. We all make choices in our diet about what works and what doesn’t work for us. We choose not to use oil at home. If we go out to eat, we stick to plant-based but don’t stress about the olive oil all restaurants seem to put in everything. Where the line is for you is up to you.
  3. If you are suffering from heart disease, diabetes, obesity or any other metabolic disease that line should be as close to none as possible.

Okay. On to why oil (any oil including extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, etc, etc, etc) is not a health food.

It’s straight fat. Oil is the most calorie dense “food” you can put in your mouth at 120 calories per tablespoon. That might not sound like much. But you’d have to walk about two miles (30ish minutes) to burn it off. And that is if you only ate one tablespoon. And no one ever ingests just one tablespoon.

It’s 13.8% saturated fat. The government "goal" is to have your diet be not more than 7% saturated fat.

It’s highly processed. Eat olives. They are yummy and good for you. Squeezing the oil out and throwing the fiber away ruins a perfectly good food.

The lining of our blood vessels doesn’t like it. There is a single layer of cells inside the walls of our blood vessels called endothelial cells. Eating a fatty meal damages the endothelium (what the layer of cells is called) and makes our blood vessels stiff for about six hours. Do that three times a day and your blood vessels are permanently stiff, which makes your heart work harder.

Now you might be thinking, “How do I cook without oil?” You can sauté veggies in vegetable broth, sherry, water, or even their own juices. Just keep an eye on them and add more liquid if need be and they won’t burn.

So, is olive oil bad for you? There is certainly science that suggests that. Does that mean you should NEVER have it? That’s up to you. 

If you’d like to hear more about olive oil and the fallacy that the Mediterranean Diet is healthy because of the oil, this is part of a Dr Kalper lecture. He starts talking about oil at the 1:50 mark.

If you are ready to address how your food choices are negatively affecting your health, let’s set up a free get-to-know-you chat. Send me an email and let’s get you on track to taking control of your stress eating.

Dr Robyn is a former competitive volleyball player turned psychologist with continuing education in nutrition. Russ is a former competitive bodybuilder and trainer on the Mr. Olympia Tour. They are the co-founders of Whole Food Muscle and the authors of How to Feed a Human The Whole Food Muscle Way. To work with them one on one to improve your health and fitness or to have them speak at your event or organization email them at