Category Archives: Olive Oil

Dr. Klaper: “Pouring Olive Oil On Food Does Not Suddenly Make It Heart-Healthy”

This is an excerpt from the presentation by Dr. Michael Klaper given at the Healthy Lifestyle Expo in 2012. He addresses olive oil, saying, “pouring olive on food does not suddenly make it heart-healthy.”


  • Restaurant food is “salt, sugar, and fat.” Eat before you go.
  • The Greeks have the highest rate of obesity in Europe.
  • Olive oil is 14% saturated fat.
  • “Remember, your body is never not looking.”
  • “Excessive saturated fats (even olive oil) stiffen the walls of the arteries and make them less responsive to nitric oxide which dilates the vessels and increases blood flow to the organs.”
  • How to stir fry without oil: Saute in seasoned vegetable broth.
  • For salad dressing without oil: Blend vegetables, fruits, nuts, vinegars, etc., puree and pour over greens.

Dr. Vogel: “Olive Oil Depresses Endothial Function”

Here’s Dr. Robert Vogel, the lead author of that last study1 cited in my post, Olive Oil Shown To Promote Atherosclerosis, speaking to Dr. Henry Black in a Medscape interview last May:2

I can’t embed the video but I’ve linked it here.


Dr. Vogel: There is no question that what you do daily — whether it is what you eat, how you exercise, whether you watch television or videos, or whatever — affects your endothelial function, and it affects it very quickly. One of the things we demonstrated several years ago is that if you eat a noxious kind of meal, a fast-food meal, your endothelial function worsens considerably. You lose about 50% of your endothelial function within 2 or 3 hours.[1,2]

Dr. Black: How do you measure that?

Dr. Vogel: We measure brachial reactivity. This is a noninvasive ultrasound test that measures the size of an artery and then looks at arterial changes after a stimulus, which is blood pressure cuff occlusion.

Dr. Black: Is anything else potentially detrimental aside from the fat in a diet?

Dr. Vogel: Many things are possibly detrimental or beneficial, but we found that what most depresses endothelial function is saturated fat.

Dr. Black: What about the Mediterranean diet? What do we know about that?

Dr. Vogel: That is a very hot topic right now. The PREDIMED study[3] from Barcelona included 7500 patients and showed about a 30% reduction in cardiovascular events with a Mediterranean diet. Of interest, I think they wanted to prove that it was the olive oil that was beneficial, but they got the same results whether participants consumed high amounts of olive oil or high amounts of mixed nuts. So they did not show what I think they intended to show.

We have looked at olive oil.[4] We found that olive oil may be not as bad as lard, but it does depress endothelial function, and that is because it also has high saturated fat.

Dr. Black: But that is a surrogate. With the Mediterranean diet study, they actually had outcomes — something that is unusual in any diet study.

Dr. Vogel: This was the third and the best of the diet trials[3,5] because it was a prospective randomized trial of about 7500 folks. It was carefully controlled, and they looked at the cardiac events in an organized way. With a 30% reduction in cardiac events, which was statistically significant, I think we can be sure that a good diet does matter.

1 The Postprandial Effect Of Components Of The Mediterranean Diet On Endothelial Function, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, November 2000
2 Et Tu, Olive Oil? Fats and Endothelial Function, Medscape May 2013

Olive Oil Shown To Promote Atherosclerosis

Olive OilThe following studies provide evidence for the atherosclerosis-promoting effect of olive oil, in monkeys, mice, and humans:

1. Hepatic Origin of Cholesteryl Oleate in Coronary Artery Atherosclerosis In African Green Monkeys, Enrichment By Dietary Monounsaturated Fat, Journal of Clinical Investigation, 1997

“[We observed in monkeys] that the amount of coronary artery atherosclerosis was similar in the monounsaturated and saturated fat groups, in spite of the significantly improved LDL cholesterol concentration and LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio in the former.”

2. Dietary Monounsaturated Fatty Acids Promote Aortic Atherosclerosis In LDL Receptor–Null, Human ApoB100–Overexpressing Transgenic Mice, Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, 1998

Mice were fed one of 6 diets with different fatty acid content: saturated, monounsaturated (cis and trans), polyunsaturated (n-3 and n-6), and a control diet.

“The reduction in aortic atherosclerosis was not found when either cis or trans monounsaturated fatty acids were fed. Rather, just as much atherosclerosis was seen when cis monounsaturated fat diets were fed as when saturated fat was fed, and significantly more atherosclerosis was seen when the trans monounsaturated fatty acids were fed.”

This is an important outcome when one considers that monounsaturated fats, often in the form of olive oil, are widely promoted as being healthful and effective for protection against heart disease.

3. Effect Of Fat And Carbohydrate Consumption On Endothelial Function, Lancet, December, 1999

“Consumption of a meal high in monounsaturated fat was associated with acute impairment of endothelial function when compared with a [low-fat] carbohydrate-rich meal.”

4. The Postprandial Effect Of Components Of The Mediterranean Diet On Endothelial Function, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, November 2000

“Contrary to part of our hypothesis, our study found that omega-9 (oleic acid)-rich olive oil impairs endothelial function postprandially.

The mechanism appears to be oxidative stress because the decrease in FMD was reduced (71%) by the concomitant administration of vitamins C and E. Balsamic vinegar (red wine product) and salad reduced the postprandial impairment in endothelial function to a similar extent (65%).

In a clinical study, olive oil was shown to activate coagulation factor VII to the same extent as does butter (44). Thus, olive oil does not have a clearly beneficial effect on vascular function.”

The major unsaturated fatty acids in olive oil are oleic acid (18:1n-9) and linoleic acid (18:2n-6) (42). A high-oleic and linoleic acid meal has recently been shown to impair FMD in comparison with a low-fat meal (28). (That’s the study above by Ong et al.)

In terms of their effects on postprandial endothelial function, the beneficial components of the Mediterranean and Lyon Diet Heart Study diets appear to be the antioxidant-rich foods—vegetables, fruits … not olive oil. Dietary fruits, vegetables, and their products appear to provide some protection against the direct impairment in endothelial function produced by high-fat foods, including olive oil.”

Clearly, olive oil is not the heart-healthy food it’s made out to be. It truly is a feat of marketing that a food which has been shown over and over to impair artery function exists in peoples’ minds as an elixir. The Mediterranean diet, with its generous portions of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, improves health not because of olive oil, but in spite of it.

Saturated Fat Leads To Higher LDL, Lower Energy Expenditure, Than Monounsaturated Fat

High_Fat_Foods2This new study found that replacing saturated fat (palmitate) with monounsaturated fat (oleate) resulted in lower LDL, and a lower LDL:HDL ratio:

Dietary Intake Of Palmitate And Oleate Has Broad Impact On Systemic And Tissue Lipid Profiles In Humans, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 2014

It was a crossover trail of 15 adults. They ate a high–palmitic acid (HPA) diet for 3 weeks then switched to a low–palmitic acid and high–oleic acid (HOA) diet.

“HOA lowered the ratio of serum low-density lipoprotein to high-density lipoprotein (LDL:HDL) in men and women. … These results suggest that replacing dietary PA with OA reduces the blood LDL concentration.”

Palmitic acid (PA) is a saturated fatty acid found abundantly in meats, cheeses, butter, and other dairy products.  (16:00)

Oleic acid (OA) is a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid. Good sources are oils of safflower, olive, canola, sesame, pecan, almond, sunflower, peanut, and avocado. It is also found in animal fats including fats of pork, poultry, and beef. (18:1 cis-9)

I looked up Dr. Lawrence Kien (University of Vermont), the lead author on this study, and found the following related research he had published:

Substituting Dietary Monounsaturated Fat For Saturated Fat Is Associated With Increased Daily Physical Activity And Resting Energy Expenditure And With Changes In Mood, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, April 2013

Design: With the use of a balanced design, 2 cohorts of 18 and 14 young adults were enrolled in separate randomized, double-masked, crossover trials that compared a 3-wk high–palmitic acid diet (HPA; similar to the Western diet fat composition) to a low–palmitic acid and high–oleic acid diet (HOA; similar to the Mediterranean diet fat composition). All foods were provided by the investigators, and the palmitic acid (PA):oleic acid (OA) ratio was manipulated by adding different oil blends to the same foods. In both cohorts, we assessed physical activity (monitored continuously by using accelerometry) and resting energy expenditure (REE). To gain insight into a possible mood disturbance that might explain changes in physical activity, the Profile of Mood States (POMS) was administered in cohort 2.

Results: Physical activity was higher during the HOA than during the HPA in 15 of 17 subjects in cohort 1 (P = 0.008) (mean: 12% higher; P = 0.003) and in 12 of 12 subjects in the second, confirmatory cohort (P = 0.005) (mean: 15% higher; P = 0.003). When the HOA was compared with the HPA, REE measured during the fed state was 3% higher for cohort 1 (P < 0.01), and REE was 4.5% higher in the fasted state for cohort 2 (P = 0.04). POMS testing showed that the anger-hostility score was significantly higher during the HPA (P = 0.007).

Conclusions: The replacement of dietary PA with OA was associated with increased physical activity and REE and less anger. Besides presumed effects on mitochondrial function (increased REE), the dietary PA:OA ratio appears to affect behavior.

Kien found that a diet high in saturated fat not only lowered the drive to be physically active, but also “appeared to affect behavior.” Replacing saturated fat with monounsaturated fat increased physical activity, increased the amount of energy used at rest (burned more calories at rest), and resulted in a lower anger-hostility score.

What foods to eat?

Using PA and OA lipid numbers (which I’ve included in parentheses above) and NutritionData, I determined that one ounce (2 tablespoons) of:

Butter has 6.1 grams palmitic, 4.7 grams oleic
Olive oil has 3.2 grams palmitic, 20 grams oleic (4 grams sat fat total)
Cheddar cheese has 2.7 grams palmitic, 2.2 grams oleic (6 grams sat fat total)
Sesame oil has 2.5 grams palmitic, 11.0 grams oleic
Almond oil has 1.8 grams palmitic, 19.4 oleic
Beef chuck has 0.4 grams palmitic, 0.9 oleic (2 grams sat fat in a 3 oz. serving)
Safflower oil has 1.2 grams palmitic, 21 grams oleic
Canola oil has 1.2 grams palmitic, 16.7 grams oleic
Almonds (23 whole kernels) has 0.8 grams palmitic, 8.6 grams oleic

It’s evident that eating more olive oil to increase monounsaturated fat has a down side … it comes with a hefty amount of saturated fat.  Olive oil has more saturated fat than a large egg, and more saturated fat than a 3 ounce serving of beef.

I think a better way of lowering the saturated fat:monounsaturated fat ratio is to get your fat from whole food sources. Note that almonds, 23 of them!, provide 8.6 grams monounsaturated fat, along with several other vitamins and minerals, and 3.4 grams of fiber.  Oil would be pressed to achieve that.

Olive Oil Is “Heart Healthy”? Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Clinical Lipidology Says That’s A Hoax

OliveOilHeart2Here is the Editor-in-Chief of the peer-reviewed Journal of Clinical Lipidology, Dr. W. Virgil Brown, speaking in 2009:

Dr. Karmally: Because of the way the Mediterranean diet has been promoted, olive oil is in the center of that pyramid.

Dr. Brown (Editor-in-Chief of this journal): It’s viewed as healthful and as you pointed out, the Lyon Diet Heart Study really found that the one fat that correlated best with reduction in events was not monounsaturated oleic acid, the major fat of olive oil, it was linoleic acid. And so I’m afraid that this has become a great hoax applied to the American diet and that we have not paid as much attention to the data as we should have in order to make a better decision about the content of fat in our diet.

Clinical Lipidology Roundtable Discussion: Discussion on Dietary Fat, Journal of Clinical Lipidology, October 2009

I think most of our fat should come from whole food sources. By the way, almonds are an excellent source of linoleic acid, the omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid that “correlated best with reduction in [heart] events.”

I agree with RB.  The idea of olive oil being “heart healthy” is a triumph of marketing.

One Tablespoon Olive Oil Has More Saturated Fat Than A Large Egg

Health Nutrition: Longevity FoodPeople keep coming to the defense of olive oil. Olive oil has no fiber, no protein, no carbohydrate, very few vitamins and minerals, and one tablespoon has more saturated fat (1.9g) than a large egg (1.5g).  Olive oil has twice the saturated fat of other vegetable oils like safflower.

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil have 28 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, and 238 calories.*
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil have  more saturated fat than 2 large eggs or a cubic inch of cheddar cheese.
  • The saturated fat in olive oil consists mostly of palmitic acid, the same saturated fatty acid found in meat, cheese, butter, and other dairy products.

If, for example, I was following the advice of the American Heart Association (AHA) and keeping my saturated fat intake to below 7% of the day’s calories, I would be eating less than 14 grams of saturated fat (for an 1800 calorie intake).

If I ate all of the following, I would be eating more saturated fat than the AHA recommends.

  • 1 ounce cheddar cheese (6g sat. fat)
  • 1 ounce potato chips (2g)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (4g)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter (3g)

Olive oil is not a health food.

* Source: NutritionData: Olive Oil

Dr. Weil Recommends Liberal Use Of Olive Oil

When Dr. Weil speaks, I listen. Not that I believe everything he says, but he has a certain charisma, and I like the foundation of his thinking, his wholistic, mind-body approach to health.

A couple of things I can’t sign on to are his guidance about supplements and his liberal use of oil, a calorically dense, highly processed, nutritionally wanting substance.

“Continue your 2014 healthy eating habits by making extra virgin olive oil your main source of dietary fat, using it liberally for eating and cooking.”

Use it as your main cooking oil (be sure not to use high heat, as it can oxidize the delicate oil), in place of butter and margarine in most baked goods, and as a drizzle on vegetables or salads or a dip for bread. Or get decadent and make Lemon Olive Oil Cake!” [Recipe follows]

Does everything we eat have to be prepared with fat? On vegetables and salads, on and in baked goods, as a medium for cooking? In my mind, Americans are overdoing it with the fat and oil. A healthful diet does not team up the word “oil” with the appeal “use it liberally.”

Lemon Olive Oil Cake, from Dr. Weil’s restaurant, True Food Kitchen.  Serves 4-6.


4 lemons, zested and juiced
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 eggs
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups evaporated cane sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder


– Combine zest, juice and olive oil in a small bowl.
– In the mixer combine eggs & salt. Mix on medium for 2 minutes. Slowly add the sugar and continue to mix until pale and thickened.
– Turn mixer to low and slowly sift in the flour and baking powder, followed by the olive oil mixture. Do not over mix at this point; just incorporate the ingredients.
– Pour this mixture into a cake pan or muffin tin. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes for cupcakes and 35 minutes for large cakes. Poke with a toothpick to check for doneness.
– Serve with Greek yogurt and fresh strawberries.


Chef Michael Stebner coats the muffin cups with oil and sugar and recommends serving it with Greek yogurt.  “Greek yogurt’s got a lot of fat in it.  It’s got twice as much fat as regular yogurt.  That’s why it tastes so good.”

If this served 4, each person would be eating 1/4 cup oil, 1.5 eggs, and a half cup of sugar. Not counting the oil in the pan and the cream or yogurt side.

I can hear it already … “everything in moderation” …

What do you think?