heart healthy foods

High Blood Pressure: Is Olive Oil Really Heart Healthy?

Eli Ben-Yehuda

Written by Eli Ben-Yehuda

On June 18, 2017

I love great Italian food. I have my favorite Italian eats in Atlanta Georgia. Steak Socrates with olive oil roasted potatoes. Ah… the wine the bread with olive oil to dip your bread in. Wow I can smell that food even as I am writing this article. I even only cook with olive oil, EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil). After following Rachel Ray for many years, and other great chefs well… who would use anything else in their kitchen. It’s heart healthy!


But now research is starting to show different and that using olive oil is not as heart healthy as thought. So today we want to get past the hype and get to the truth.


Myth: Olive Oil Will Protect You From A Heart Attack.


The Truth: Olive Oil Is Not Heart Healthy:


According to the medical profession, dietitians, and the olive oil industry foods rich in monounsaturated fats are better for you then foods high in trans fats and  saturated fats. Yes and low tar cigarettes are better for you than other cigarettes, but they will still cause cancer.


“Better” monounsaturated fats like olive oil may still lead to diseased arteries. When scientists fed a monounsaturated fat–rich diet to monkeys for five years, the monkeys developed extensive atherosclerotic plaques in their coronary arteries.


According to the study, if you had looked only at the blood lipids of the monkeys eating the monounsaturated-fat-rich diet in this study, you’d have thought they would have ended up with cleaner arteries than those that ate more saturated fat. Compared to monkeys fed the diet high in saturated fat, the monkeys fed the monounsaturated-fat-rich diet had lower LDL bad cholesterol levels and higher HDL good cholesterol levels (similar to what happens in studies with humans). And compared to monkeys fed a diet high in polyunsaturated fats, the monkeys fed the high-mono diet had HDLs that were nearly twice as high (again, just like humans).


Human Studies: 


Several human studies have also poked holes in olive oil’s heart–health claims. When researchers from the University of Crete recently compared residents of Crete who had heart disease with residents free of the disease, they found that the residents with heart disease ate a diet with “significantly higher daily intakes” of monounsaturated fats (principally from olive oil) as well as higher fat intake overall.


Impaired Cardiac Function:


Another study investigated how well people’s arteries could dilate (expand) to accommodate increased blood flow after they had eaten several different meals. Each meal emphasized a different component of the Mediterranean diet. After the meal rich in olive oil, the ability of people’s arteries to dilate was significantly impaired.


Conclusion: Olive Oil Is Not Cardio Protective:


A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology also found that “dilation was worse” after 24 people, 12 healthy and 12 with high cholesterol levels, consumed olive oil. Five teaspoons of olive oil swallowed after salami-and-cheese meals did not help the arteries relax and expand. (5)


This research and other data indicate that olive oil is not heart protective, Dr. Robert Vogel told Pritikin Perspective. Dr. Vogel, a cardiologist who has studied heart disease for more than 30 years, counsels his patients to “feast on fish” and other rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids instead of olive oil, and to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains every day.


As much as I love cooking with olive oil, dipping my bread in it, and putting it on my salad with fresh squeezed lemon juice, the extra 296 calories per 2 tablespoon isn’t worth it. Add that up with the fact it is not cardio protective seems like I need to learn a new way to cook. I wonder if you can still use it safety for a massage? I guess that’s a question for another day.


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