Nutrition and cooking experts agree that one of the most versatile and healthy oils to cook with and eat is olive oil, as long as it’s extra virgin. “You want an oil that is not refined and overly processed,” says Howard. An “extra virgin” label means that the olive oil is not refined, and therefore of high quality. Extra virgin olive oil contains a large amount of monounsaturated fats and some polyunsaturated fatty acids; many studies have linked it to better heart health. Olive oil has a relatively lower smoke point compared to other oils, so it’s best for low and medium-heat cooking.
Thapa, D., Toguri, J. T., Szczesniak, A. M., & Kelly, A. E. M. (2017, April 1). The non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD), and the synthetic derivatives, HU308 and CBD-DMH, reduces hyperalgesia and inflammation in a mouse model of corneal injury [Abstract]. FASEB Journal. Retrieved from https://www.fasebj.org/doi/abs/10.1096/fasebj.31.1_supplement.811.7
Compared to THC, CBD has very different properties. It weakly binds to both CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain and body, gently stimulating and blocking them at the same time. This not only mildly activates the receptors, but is also thought to trigger the body to create more CB1 and CB2 receptors, a process known as upregulation. It also results in increased natural levels of anandamide.
A colleague of Mechoulam’s, Marc Feldman at Imperial College, London, tested CBD on mice that had a version of rheumatoid arthritis. He found that CBD reduced the mice’s inflammation by 50% at the right dosage. Cardiologists working with the mice at Hebrew University have found that a dosage of CBD immediately following a heart attack can reduce infarct size by about 66%.
A JAMA study published by the American Medical Association in November 2017 documents the mislabeling of some CBD products. The study found that 69 percent of the products examined contained different levels of CBD than what was identified on the label. THC was detected in 21 percent of the products tested, and the THC content in some of those products was enough to produce intoxication or impairment.
Despite the growing popularity of CBD, the science supporting the claims remains pretty slim at this point. So why so much interest in a substance researchers still know so little about? I'd say hype, hope and big bucks. To date, the Food and Drug Administration has approved only one drug containing CBD, Epidiolex, for previously uncontrollable pediatric seizures. (To get the FDA's OK, a new drug must be rigorously studied in clinical trials.)
Phytocannabinoid-rich hemp oil has a higher concentration of CBD compared to other cannabinoids. When ingested, CBD interacts with our body’s endocannabinoid system. This triggers the body to consume more of its own cannabinoids, which directly influences our immune system—where the majority of CBD receptors are found. This helps reduce inflammation and pain and promotes a healthier immune system.
By 2022, the Brightfield Group, a cannabis and CBD market research firm, says sales are expected to reach $22 billion. The December passage of the 2018 farm bill will certainly help; the measure amended the term "marihuana" to exempt hemp as a controlled substance as long as it contains no more than 0.3 percent THC. Laura Freeman, chief executive of Homestead Alternatives, a Kentucky maker of CBD products, told me that "this is the first bright spot we've had in farming in a long time. We finally have a crop that has potential."
A number of studies over the last two decades or more have reported that CBD has anti-seizure activity, reducing the severity of seizures in animal models.vi,vii In addition, there have been a number of case studies and anecdotal reports suggesting that CBD may be effective in treating children with drug-resistant epilepsy.viii,ix,x However, there have only been a few small randomized clinical trials examining the efficacy of CBD as a treatment for epilepsy; the total number of subjects enrolled in these studies was 48. Three of the four studies reported positive results, including decreased frequency of seizures. However, the studies suffered from significant design flaws, including failure to fully quantify baseline seizure frequency, inadequate statistical analysis, and a lack of sufficient detail to adequately evaluate and interpret the findings.viii Therefore, the currently available information is insufficient to draw firm conclusions regarding the efficacy of CBD as a treatment for epilepsy; a recent Cochrane review concluded, there is a need for “a series of properly designed, high quality, and adequately powered trials.”xi
This is a critical area for new research. While there is preliminary evidence that CBD may have therapeutic value for a number of conditions, we need to be careful to not get ahead of the evidence. Ninety-five percent of drugs that move from promising preclinical findings to clinical research do not make it to market. The recently announced elimination of the PHS review of non-federally funded research protocols involving marijuana is an important first step to enhance conducting research on marijuana and its components such as CBD. Still, it is important to try to understand the reasons for the lack of well-controlled clinical trials of CBD including: the regulatory requirements associated with doing research with Schedule I substances, including a requirement to demonstrate institutional review board approval; and the lack of CBD that has been produced under the guidance of Current Good Manufacturing Processes (cGMP) – required for testing in human clinical trials – available for researchers. Furthermore, the opportunity to gather important information on clinical outcomes through practical (non-randomized) trials for patients using CBD products available in state marijuana dispensaries is complicated by the variable quality and purity of CBD from these sources.
Research to date points to polyunsaturated fats as an important factor in why plant-rich eating patterns are heart-healthy. Polyunsaturated fats include the two essential fatty acids your body can’t make on its own: alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) and linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid). The body can transform these two “parent” fatty acids into the other ones you need for adequate nutrition.
My article is just a summary of what scientists know right now. Knowledge will evolve–that’s a good thing, right? If you want to make a serious decision about what oil is healthiest for you, don’t take my word on it — talk to a doctor or dietitian. A lot of the information about nutrition peddled on the web is from manufacturers or people who work for them, and from fake experts with lots of letters after their names. Read a variety of trustworthy sources and don’t be suckered by sweeping claims. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
After evaluating the evidence, the panel recommended that Americans decrease levels of saturated fats (fats that come from meats, poultry, cheese, dairy products and tropical oils, such as coconut and palm oils) to reduce their risk of heart disease. People should replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats, which include polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats, Lichtenstein said.