Is extra virgin olive oil good for weight loss? Most definitely not. Because it is 100% pure fat, just 1 tablespoon of it contains 120 calories. As a result, your belly won't feel full, even though you might have consumed hundreds of calories of this oil. However it wouldn't be fair to pick on just that made from olives, because the truth is that all processed oils and fat - whether that's EVOO, butter, canola oil, flax oil, coconut oil, you name it - all contain right around 120 calories per tablespoon. That makes all of them a horrible part of your diet when you are trying to lose weight. Even if you aren't trying to drop pounds, having these pure fats drizzled on your salad or in your sauces can make it extremely hard to even maintain the healthy weight you're at, since they literally add hundreds of calories to your daily intake while offering little satiability and almost no nutritional value whatsoever.
Let's say you don't care about calories. Maybe you do bodybuilding, are a hardcore athlete, or you're just lucky enough to have the metabolism of a growing adolescent teen. In those situations, is olive oil good for you? The general perception is that it's healthy but a vast amount of research suggests otherwise. For starters, the omega 3/6/9 balance in EVOO is far from ideal. The ratio is about 13 to 1, for omega 6 vs. omega 3 content. That's downright awful.
Anthropology has suggested that throughout much of human history, our balance was closer to a 1:1 ratio. That has changed during the past couple thousand years as processed oils have continued to become more common, culminating during the last century because the modern industrial age and factory farming allows us to now refine vegetables and grains into oils that are so cheaply produced, a large percentage of the world's population can afford to consume them daily and in abundance. Not only is this a problem for obesity, but also for "overdosing" us on omega 6's, because the vast majority of the processed fats we use contain almost no omega 3 content.
Why did Bill Clinton stop eating oils?
Sure, calories were part of it, but the primary reason Bill went on a plant-based diet with no added refined oils was for his heart. After needing two more stents to open up some clogged veins from his prior bypass surgery, which in Bill's own words, were "pretty bent and ugly," at the advice of his doctors he adopted a plant-based, no oil diet. And not just any doctors, of course an ex-president is going to have the best; his highly respected physician Dr. Dean Ornish as well as the Cleveland Clinic's Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr., who directs their cardiovascular prevention and reversal program. Esselstyn is an advocate of plant based diets and has stated that in some circumstances, they can actually reverse heart disease.
Initially, Clinton was entirely vegan but it has been said that as recently as 2016 he cheats once a while (Bill Clinton a cheater, who would have guessed). Setting that aside though, from what the media has reported he is still quite strict in cutting out refined oils from his diet. Not just olive oil and butter, but all refined fats are something foreign to the human body as they are not found in nature (much like refined table sugar). As a result, they are a shock to our bodies. Sure, unprocessed fats like nuts and avocados are still high-fat, but the difference is it takes time for our body to break those down and digest them. With refined oil, it is absorbed immediately and causes a surge in the amount of fat flowing through our blood. It's a reason why refined fat intake correlates with atherosclerosis risk (1), which is the accumulation of fatty plaque on your arteries which accumulate over the years as we get get older. It's becomes especially problematic in our mid and later adult years.
What about antioxidants in olive oil?
Sorry to be the bearer of more bad news, but EVOO has almost no antioxidant content. The ORAC value measures 100 grams worth of a food, which in the case of this ingredient, is the equivalent of about 7 tablespoons. That means for you to realize the full ORAC amount reflected above, you would need to consume 840 calories of olive oil! Not only would that be bad for your heart and probably your waistline, but it's also an extremely low amount of antioxidants relative to most other foods. For example 100 grams of your average unpeeled apple has an ORAC of 3,049 which is about 700% more than EVOO and with exponentially less calories!
USDA Database for the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of Selected Foods, Release 2 - Prepared by Nutrient Data Laboratory, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center (BHNRC), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - May 2010