Olive oil is one of the Liver Friendly Diet's Agents of Good. In addition to being easier for your cells to process than other oils, olive oil has added benefits such as being anti-inflammatory.
As a practical matter you can't get that much olive oil in cooking. Wayne Eskridge, CEO and Co-Founder of the Fatty Liver Foundation who is a patient himself, views it like cough syrup and takes 4 tablespoons daily in addition to whatever he is getting with food.
How does olive oil impact my health?
This study focuses specifically on what versions of the Mediterranean diet work best to prevent cardiac events and shows that the best results were found with large quantities of extra virgin olive oil. It is a 'what is the best of the best' question and it is significant to people with liver disease, which is often comorbid with cardiovascular disease.Now, this is the key takeaway. The diet included 4 tablespoons per day of extra virgin olive oil. This is only important if your goal is to be as kind to your liver as possible. It is the amount indicated by liver studies that weren't as robust as this one but came to the same conclusions.
Of all the oils in the chart above, olive oil has the highest percentage of monounsaturated fats, or omega 9s. While olive oil is mostly an omega 9, flaxseed oil is mostly an omega 3. The two have quite different roles in the body. While almost all fatty acids can be used to make triglycerides (the main fuel storage medium for the body), they are processed differently in the cells, making the distinctions more about the biomechanics than the actual fat themselves.
Omega 9 is the most efficient fatty acid when it comes to the fundamental energy production of the mitochondria, or the powerhouse of the cell. Omega 9s produce more energy while releasing fewer by-products in the cell, so it functions best as a major source of calories from oil. Omega 9 has other good benefits, including less inflammation, but when you think about what is carrying the calories, the efficiency of our body’s ability to use omega 9 makes it a better choice.
Finding Quality Olive Oil
When buying extra virgin olive oil, be sure to pay attention to the source. A little factoid, Italian law allows any oil that comes through the country to be labeled as Italian no matter its source. Bertolli, the biggest Italian distributor in the US, doesn't own a single olive tree. Until recently, most olive oil sold in the US was vegetable oil doctored to look like olive oil. UC Davis has a database of olive oil research that is accessible to the public if you would like to learn more: https://olivecenter.ucdavis.edu/research/reports. Wayne buys only oil marked with the COOC label, the certification sponsored by UC Davis to assure quality.
We will leave you with a fun fact: high quality olive oil has a spicy flavor to it, and it is not the neutral, flavorless oil you might be used to.
Eating With Your Liver in Mind
Click here to view a summary guide of Fatty Liver Foundation's Liver Friendly Diet. It is a useful tool to help guide your eating practices. It is printer-friendly and can be posted in your kitchen as a daily reminder to eat with your liver's health in mind.