Could something in your kitchen cabinet help you lose weight and prevent cancer? It’s something many people don’t associate with weight loss or even health.
Some refer to this weight loss food as “liquid gold” because of its color and the fact that it’s rich in nutrients. A local research dietitian swears by this particular ingredient and has done local studies on its power to help us lose weight and prevent prostate and breast cancers. And here’s the irony: It’s high in fat.
If you want to trim your waistline, try consuming at least three tablespoons a day of extra virgin olive oil. Mary Flynn, a registered dietitian and researcher at The Miriam Hospital, has the proof to back it up. She recently completed two weight loss studies. One looked at an olive oil plant-based diet to prevent breast cancer; the other to see if that same diet could prevent prostate cancer.
“What we were looking at was when men are treated for recurrent prostate cancer, they’re treated very often with a therapy that blocks the testosterone. And when this happened it increased their risk factors for heart disease by increasing the metabolic syndrome, which is a large waist, an increase in the triglycerides, decrease in HDL, the blood pressure goes up and glucose goes up,” Flynn said.
In all, 18 men took part in the plant-based olive oil diet. “I asked them to use at least three tablespoons a day, which I put as part of the meal plan and the recipes and then it focuses mainly on vegetables,” Flynn said. Vegetables in this Mediterranean-like diet are unlimited. Fruits are limited to about three servings a day, and whole grains are emphasized.
“The beauty of the diet is the volume is large. So, your stomach is full and then you have the fat, the olive oil being used to prep the meal so you don’t get hungry between the meals. And so I see snacking go down,” Flynn said. Flynn found in this hospital-funded study that men not only lost weight, they embraced the new way of eating.
She already knew women were benefiting. It’s what led to her publishing this book, “The Pink Ribbon Diet,” which was borne out of an earlier study of 44 overweight women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. In that study, women who followed the plant-based olive oil plan lost weight and lowered their triglycerides — a type of fat found in the blood — and raised their good cholesterol.
Despite its name, the book is for anyone trying to lower their weight and risk for disease. “It’s mainly a cookbook. It gives the rationale for why I choose the foods that I do, I think, as well as 150 very easy recipes,” Flynn said.
The olive oil diet used in Flynn’s studies includes at least those three tablespoons of olive oil a day and a lot of vegetables. Red meat was not allowed, but limited amounts of poultry and fish were.