Is Olive Oil a Safe Oil? Yes or NO!

May 06, 2012

Primer on Reversing Heart Disease I Is Olive Oil a Safe Oil?  Yes or NO! 

 Reference:  Esselstyn, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease (2007) and,Vogel and Correti Jr of Amer College of Cardiology, 2000 

 It has been a sacred tenet of “healthy living” proponents that we should eat a Mediterranean diet instead of a standard American Diet.  That reduces our fat intake.  The benefit is that you will reduce mortality from vascular disease.  That part is true.  And if you are willing to settle for a reduction in risk, that’s fine and dandy.  

What happens if you want to reverse coronary artery disease and double the amount of life span ahead of you?  Does that catch your eye a bit?  Does mine. There are some cracks in our current heart care system that I want to explore.  The first crack is the problem with olive oil.  Mind you, that’s about the only oil I eat so this is shaking me up a bit.  

But I found out about the Brachial Artery Tourniquet test and the effect of olive oil.  Here is the test.  You put a blood pressure cuff around your arm and pump it up to enough to obstruct your blood pressure.  Then you leave it there for 5 minutes.  Your arm turns blue.  It hurts.  You let go of the pressure and measure how fast your brachial artery returns to normal.  When you are eating olive oil and bread, your artery takes quite a while to get back to normal.  When you are eating a plant-based diet with no fat in it, (< 10% calories from fat) your artery bounces back right away. 

 That’s the crack in the Mediterranean diet.  Folks still get heart disease.  Just not quite as fast.  It’s not reversing the disease, it’s just slowing it down.  What are you willing to settle for? And as for olive oil, other researchers have found that olive oil damages the ability of the endothelium of arteries to recover in other senses too.  For example,  green monkeys, when fed olive oil had just as much artery disease as when fed saturated fats.  Green monkeys metabolize fats and get heart disease very much like humans.  

Hmmm. It sounds like our artery lining, the endothelium doesn’t like olive oil much.  It may be better than bacon grease, but it’s still no panacea.  Next week, how do our arteries work and why is fat a problem? 

 WWW. What will work for me?  I’m a heavy consumer of olive oil.  I need to understand this more.  I’ve had very dear friends have heart disease recently and I’m not willing to settle for “just a bit” less risk. This is too important an illness not to take straight aim at.  I want to beat it back.  Sounds like I have to figure out a different way to eat my salad. Written by John E Whitcomb, MD   Brookfield Longevity and Healthy Living Clinic 17585 W North Ave, Suite 160,  Brookfield, WI 53045  262-784-5300 Archives at


Pop Quiz

1.   The Brachial Artery Tourniquet test does what?      Answer: pump up the blood pressure and obstruct your arm for 5 minutes.  Then let the pressure off and see how long it takes for the brachial artery to act normally.

2.   What use is this test besides making people mad at you?              Answer:  there are measurable differences in dietary foods on the ability of the artery to recover from that 5 minute spell of now oxygen.

3.    What diet recovers the very very fastest?                    Answer:  vegan with no fat.

4.    What happens with olive oil.                       Answer:  Still worse than vegan but better than other oils.

5.     We should avoid olive oil.   T or F              Answer:   Not so fast.  Just one dimension being examined here. But stay tuned.

Column written by John E Whitcomb, MD, Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield WI