Even the smell of olive oil makes you feel full

A new study from the University of Vienna studied four different fats and oils: Lard, butter fat, rapeseed oil and olive oil. Olive oil, an Italian oil in particular, was the satiety winner. Just its aroma made subjects feel more full.

Olive oil can help you feel full after eating, even if you don't consume it with a bowl of linguine bigger than your butt. Researchers from the University of Vienna studied four different fats and oils: Lard, butter fat, rapeseed oil and olive oil. Olive oil, an Italian oil in particular, was the satiety winner, according to the study.

Even the smell of olive oil makes you feel fullStudy participants ate 500 grams of low-fat yoghurt enriched with one of the oils each day over three months. “Olive oil had the biggest satiety effect,” reports Peter Schieberle, head of the Technische Universität München (TUM) Chair of Food Chemistry and Director of the German Research Center for Food Chemistry who helped direct the research. “The olive oil group showed a higher concentration of the satiety hormone serotonin in their blood. Subjectively speaking, these participants also reported that they found the olive oil yoghurt very filling.” No member of this group recorded an increase in their body fat percentage or their weight during the study period.

Researchers were surprised by the findings, as rapeseed oil and olive oil contain similar fatty acids. To further investigate the different effects, they focused on the aroma compounds of the oils. In the second part of the study, one group was given yoghurt with olive oil aroma extracts and a control group was given plain yoghurt. The results were conclusive, according to a release: The olive oil group’s calorie intake remained the same, but the control group had been consuming an extra 176 kilocalories per day.

“The aroma group adapted their eating habits – but the control group participants were obviously not able to do likewise,” says Schieberle. We also found that in comparison to the other group, the control group had less of the satiety hormone serotonin in their blood.”

“Our findings show that aroma is capable of regulating satiety,” concludes Schieberle. “We hope that this work will pave the way for the development of more effective reduced-fat food products that are nonetheless satiating.” 

Aroma might be all that's affordable for some consumers, however, as olive oil prices are expected to skyrocket this year. The olive harvest from Spain, which produces nearly half the world’s supply, is expected to decline by as much as 60 percent compared to last year’s harvest, reports Men's Health. Meanwhile, Greece, Italy, Turkey, and other Mediterranean nations have seen comparable declines, mainly due to a summer drought that devastated the region in 2012.

Eau de Mediterranean Diet, anyone?

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