Oleic acid and coronary heart disease prevention, green light in the U.S.


On 19.11.18, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) U.S. has determined that there is credible evidence to support two ”qualified health claim‘ that associate consumption of oils rich in oleic acid-such as extra virgin olive oil and high oleic sunflower oil-with reduced risk of coronary heart disease. (1) In Europe, however, it is stony silence.

Oleic acid. What it is and where it is located

Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fat. (MUFA, Monounsaturated fatty acid), which belongs to the family of ‘good fats. As well as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and Omega 3.

Oleic acid is found naturally

in numerous foods, including vegetable oils, meats (beef, chicken, pork), cheeses, nuts

, the sunflower seeds. As well as eggs, pasta, milk, olives and avocados.

Oleic acid and prevention of coronary heart disease

The FDA has considered some vegetable oils that contain at least 70 percent oleic acid. In essence, olive oil and the ‘high oleic’ varieties of sunflower, safflower, canola, and algae oils. Consumption of which, as an alternative to fats and oils higher in saturated fat, can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

Reduction in the risk of CHD(coronary heart disease) has been evaluated with regard to the incidence of a number of diseases. Coronary events (myocardial infarction, ischemia), cardiovascular death, coronary artery disease, and atherosclerosis. Also considering the change in blood pressure and the concentrations of cholesterol (total and ‘bad’ cholesterol, LDL) in the blood.

Oleic acid and coronary heart disease prevention, claims validated by FDA

Following a systematic review of the available scientific evidence, the FDA evaluated the merits of the relationship between oleic acid consumption and prevention of CHD(coronary heart disease). Based on seven relevant scientific studies. (2)

Two ‘
qualified health claims
‘ have therefore received the green light from the agency. (3) Such ‘qualified’ health claims may then be used on labels in the U.S. to show the relationship between consumption of edible oils with at least 70 percent oleic acid and reduced risk of coronary heart disease. (4)

Extra virgin olive oil and health benefits, tomb silence in Europe

The news gathered in this article and the studies cited, in Europe, we can only keep in mind. Since it is highly unlikely that such information will be allowed on the labels of our fine oils. At least, until the EU’s current absurd rules on food-related nutrition and health claims (‘Nutrition & Health Claims‘, NHC) are changed. (5)

The scientific literature on the many health benefits associated with the consumption of extra virgin olive oil is overabundant. (6) Well worthwhile to promote the consumption of our ‘fresh pressed olives’ in every corner of the planet, reviving a supply chain in which Italy ranks first in terms of cultivar variety and production wisdom. But the only health claim authorized on the label to date is the one related to the antioxidant properties of its polyphenols.

Europe forces our Ferraris to travel on the cart pulled by mules. And our politicians, commanded by the lobby by Big Food also through Coldiretti, still wasting time with false dangers Of ‘discrimination’ of Made in Italy by WHO. Instead of dealing with a real priority, which is precisely changing the EU criteria for validating the

health claim

, which is essential to promote the health virtues of our foods.

Dario Dongo


(1) Cf. https://www.fda.gov/Food/NewsEvents/ConstituentUpdates/ucm624758.htm

(2) Gillingham et al. (2011), Mata et al. (1997), Choudhury et al. (1995), Kien et al. (2014), Lichtenstein et al. (1993), Mattson and Grundy (1985), Zock et al. (1994)

(3) See FDA document 19.11.18, response to ‘Petition for authorized health claim for oleic acid in edible oils and a reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease’(Docket Number FDA-2017-Q-0807), on. https://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/LabelingNutrition/UCM624755.pdf, page 4 (Substance)

(4) In U.S. food law, ‘qualified‘ health claims are those based on scientific evidence that has been favorably evaluated by the Agency, but which do not meet the standard of ‘Significant Scientific Agreement. To ensure that such claims are not misleading to consumers, they should come with adisclaimer where the level of scientific evidence is precisely communicated. Eg. ‘Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that substance X can reduce the risk of disease Y

(5) For a critical note on the application of the NHC regulation in Europe, please refer to what was written at




(6) On the health benefits associated with the consumption of extra virgin olive oil, see previous articles https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/idee/nuove-evidenze-sull-extravergine, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/idee/il-ruolo-dei-polifenoli-nella-colite-ulcerosa, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/salute/pressione-alta-quali-alimenti, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/salute/dieta-mediterranea-con-evoo-e-noci-salute-cardiovascolare