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.


“If All You Ate Were Potatoes, You’d Get All Your Amino Acids”

The sentence above is haunting me.

Doug asked:

“I still don’t understand why more care isn’t necessary to avoid deficiencies of the essential amino acids. Is it the case that these amino acids are present in all fruits and vegetables? (I didn’t think this was so, but you mentioned on that other thread that thinking has changed in this regard.) Or is it simply that easy to avoid a deficiency of an essential amino acid by consuming any mixture of fruits and vegetables?”

Doug, I would answer “Yes.” to your last question. I thought it summed up the facts well.

Plants are capable of manufacturing all 20 amino acids, which include the essential amino acids (EAAs), although amounts vary. I checked a number of foods (potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes, asparagus, corn, rice, oatmeal, beans, and others) and found all EAAs in each of these foods. Even an apple which is listed as having 0 grams of protein has all the EAAs, albeit it small amounts.

Since I said in an earlier comment, “No mixing of foods is necessary. If all you ate were potatoes, you’d get all your amino acids,” I felt obliged to back it up. Below is my back-up.

  • The first column lists all 8 EAAs for adults.
  • The second column lists the World Health Organization’s recommended intake per body weight.
  • The third column lists the specific RDI for a 120 lb adult.
  • The fourth column lists the amount of each AA in a medium potato, with skin.
  • The fifth column lists the amount of each AA in 5 medium potatoes.
  • The last column lists the % of recommended intake (for a 120 lb adult) for each AA when 5 potatoes are consumed.

Click for larger.- The WHO’s recommended intakes represent the minimum amount for an individual with the highest need, multiplied by a factor of 2 for safety.
– Methionine + Cysteine = Total Sulfur Amino Acids
– Phenylalanine + Tyrosine = Total Aromatic Amino Acids
– WHO: World Health Organization
– EAA: Essential Amino Acid

For a 120 pound adult, five potatoes (960 calories) supply over 100% of the recommended intake for all essential amino acids. They also supply 25 grams of total protein.
It’s pretty difficult for an adult to eat a plant-based, vegetarian diet that doesn’t provide all EAAs, as long as caloric needs are met.

Finally – The pool of AAs that our body uses to manufacture its own proteins isn’t limited by what we eat. Normal daily turnover of our cells provides a substantial pool from which to draw amino acids. Bacteria that line our colon also manufacture AAs, including EAAs, that we can utilize.

It is a misconception that plants provide “incomplete protein”, regardless of what Ms. Lappe advanced in her 1971 book, “Diet For A Small Planet.”

Potatoes: In-depth nutrient analysis:


Potatoes, baked
(Note: “–” indicates data unavailable)
1.00 medium
(173.00 g)
GI: high
nutrient amount DRI/DV
Protein 4.32 g 8.64
Carbohydrates 36.59 g 16.26
Fat – total 0.22 g
Dietary Fiber 3.81 g 15.24
Calories 160.89 8.94
nutrient amount DRI/DV
Starch 29.88 g
Total Sugars 2.04 g
Monosaccharides 1.35 g
Fructose 0.59 g
Glucose 0.76 g
Galactose 0.00 g
Disaccharides 0.69 g
Lactose 0.00 g
Maltose 0.00 g
Sucrose 0.69 g
Soluble Fiber 0.95 g
Insoluble Fiber 2.85 g
Other Carbohydrates 30.74 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.01 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.10 g
Saturated Fat 0.06 g
Trans Fat 0.00 g
Calories from Fat 2.02
Calories from Saturated Fat 0.54
Calories from Trans Fat 0.00
Cholesterol 0.00 mg
Water 129.56 g
nutrient amount DRI/DV
Water-Soluble Vitamins
B-Complex Vitamins
Vitamin B1 0.11 mg 9.17
Vitamin B2 0.08 mg 6.15
Vitamin B3 2.44 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin Equivalents) 3.16 mg
Vitamin B6 0.54 mg 31.76
Vitamin B12 0.00 mcg 0.00
Biotin — mcg
Choline 25.60 mg 6.02
Folate 48.44 mcg 12.11
Folate (DFE) 48.44 mcg
Folate (food) 48.44 mcg
Pantothenic Acid 0.65 mg 13.00
Vitamin C 16.61 mg 22.15
Fat-Soluble Vitamins
Vitamin A (Retinoids and Carotenoids)
Vitamin A International Units (IU) 17.30 IU
Vitamin A mcg Retinol Activity Equivalents (RAE) 0.86 mcg (RAE) 0.10
Vitamin A mcg Retinol Equivalents (RE) 1.73 mcg (RE)
Retinol mcg Retinol Equivalents (RE) 0.00 mcg (RE)
Carotenoid mcg Retinol Equivalents (RE) 1.73 mcg (RE)
Alpha-Carotene 0.00 mcg
Beta-Carotene 10.38 mcg
Beta-Carotene Equivalents 10.38 mcg
Cryptoxanthin 0.00 mcg
Lutein and Zeaxanthin 51.90 mcg
Lycopene 0.00 mcg
Vitamin D
Vitamin D International Units (IU) 0.00 IU 0.00
Vitamin D mcg 0.00 mcg
Vitamin E
Vitamin E mg Alpha-Tocopherol Equivalents (ATE) 0.07 mg (ATE) 0.47
Vitamin E International Units (IU) 0.10 IU
Vitamin E mg 0.07 mg
Vitamin K 3.46 mcg 3.84
nutrient amount DRI/DV
Boron 215.82 mcg
Calcium 25.95 mg 2.60
Chloride — mg
Chromium — mcg
Copper 0.20 mg 22.22
Fluoride — mg
Iodine — mcg
Iron 1.87 mg 10.39
Magnesium 48.44 mg 12.11
Manganese 0.38 mg 19.00
Molybdenum — mcg
Phosphorus 121.10 mg 17.30
Potassium 925.55 mg 26.44
Selenium 0.69 mcg 1.25
Sodium 17.30 mg 1.15
Zinc 0.62 mg 5.64
nutrient amount DRI/DV
Omega-3 Fatty Acids 0.02 g 0.83
Omega-6 Fatty Acids 0.07 g
Monounsaturated Fats
14:1 Myristoleic — g
15:1 Pentadecenoic — g
16:1 Palmitol 0.00 g
17:1 Heptadecenoic — g
18:1 Oleic 0.00 g
20:1 Eicosenoic — g
22:1 Erucic — g
24:1 Nervonic — g
Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids
18:2 Linoleic 0.07 g
18:2 Conjugated Linoleic (CLA) — g
18:3 Linolenic 0.02 g
18:4 Stearidonic — g
20:3 Eicosatrienoic — g
20:4 Arachidonic — g
20:5 Eicosapentaenoic (EPA) — g
22:5 Docosapentaenoic (DPA) — g
22:6 Docosahexaenoic (DHA) — g
Saturated Fatty Acids
4:0 Butyric — g
6:0 Caproic — g
8:0 Caprylic — g
10:0 Capric 0.00 g
12:0 Lauric 0.01 g
14:0 Myristic 0.00 g
15:0 Pentadecanoic — g
16:0 Palmitic 0.04 g
17:0 Margaric — g
18:0 Stearic 0.01 g
20:0 Arachidic — g
22:0 Behenate — g
24:0 Lignoceric — g
nutrient amount DRI/DV
Alanine 0.13 g
Arginine 0.21 g
Aspartic Acid 1.01 g
Cystine 0.05 g 19.23
Glutamic Acid 0.74 g
Glycine 0.12 g
Histidine 0.07 g 7.78
Isoleucine 0.14 g 11.20
Leucine 0.21 g 7.64
Lysine 0.22 g 8.63
Methionine 0.07 g 10.45
Phenylalanine 0.17 g 19.10
Proline 0.13 g
Serine 0.16 g
Threonine 0.14 g 14.43
Tryptophan 0.04 g 15.38
Tyrosine 0.10 g 13.70
Valine 0.22 g 13.10
nutrient amount DRI/DV
Ash 2.30 g
Organic Acids (Total) 0.94 g
Acetic Acid 0.00 g
Citric Acid 0.80 g
Lactic Acid 0.00 g
Malic Acid 0.14 g
Taurine — g
Sugar Alcohols (Total) — g
Glycerol — g
Inositol — g
Mannitol — g
Sorbitol — g
Xylitol — g
Artificial Sweeteners (Total) — mg
Aspartame — mg
Saccharin — mg
Alcohol 0.00 g
Caffeine 0.00 mg


The nutrient profiles provided in this website are derived from The Food Processor, Version 10.12.0, ESHA Research, Salem, Oregon, USA. Among the 50,000+ food items in the master database and 163 nutritional components per item, specific nutrient values were frequently missing from any particular food item. We chose the designation “–” to represent those nutrients for which no value was included in this version of the database.

Spud Sunday: What’s In A Spud?

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I’ve been called many things in my time, though “Guardian … of the Spud” was a new one.

That title was kindly bestowed by Aoife McElwain (she of I Can Has Cook) in her brand newFoodie News column in the Irish Independent weekend magazine. Needless to remark, it is a moniker that I will wear with pride (and perhaps even, as suggested by some, with an accompanying superhero-style cape).

foodie to follow

So, as Guardian (not to mention Promoter) o’ the Spud, it seemed as good a time as any for a no-holds-barred, down ‘n’ dirty nutritional profile of what is, after all, the world’s most widely cultivated vegetable. So brace yourselves, folks, you’re about to find out that there’s a whole lot more to this tuber than starch. Let the facts begin.


    • For one thing, there’s water, and lots of it. H2O accounts for about 80% of a typical potato tuber, though this percentage can vary significantly depending on the type of potato. Waxy varieties will have a higher water content, floury types, less.
    • The rest of the potato is mostly starch, though I’m guessing you knew that already. Your average potato also contains small amounts of simple sugars, which are important for developing the golden-brown colour of fried and roasted potatoes. Overall, a potato has a lower carbohydrate content than other roots and tubers and a plain boiled potato has less calories than the equivalent weight of plain boiled rice, pasta or bread. Honest.
    • Over time, some of a potato’s starch will convert to sugars when stored below about 10°C, and markedly so at 6°C and below. So it’s best not to store your spuds in the fridge, unless uncharacteristically sweet potatoes are what you’re after.
    • While only 2% of a potato is protein, the protein is high-quality and the potato boasts a good carbohydrate to protein ratio. When compared with rice and cereals, it has a higher lysine content and lower concentrations of other amino acids such as cysteine. For those not averse to a bit of carb-on-carb action, this means that putting rice or pasta on your plate alongside potatoes will actually provide a better quality protein than either one or the other. Who’d-a-thunk-it?
    • Fat content is very low, as is, consequently, the occurrence of fat-soluble vitamins. If your spuds are fried or roasted, however, that’s a fatter matter entirely.
    • Both the flesh and the skin of a potato contain dietary fibre, though (unsurprisingly) there’s a greater concentration in the skin. The skin also prevents or reduces theleaching of vitamins and minerals into cooking water when boiling, so it is better (nutritionally) to peel after boiling, if you’re going to peel at all.

New Potatoes

    • It’s said that when men were dying from scurvy during the Klondike Gold Rush, potatoes were sold for their weight in gold. This had everything to do with the fact that potatoes were, and are, a very good source of vitamin C. 100g of freshly harvested spuds, boiled in their skins, gives about 50% of an adult’s typical recommended daily intake. Long term storage (which is increasingly common) and cooking, especially if potatoes are peeled beforehand, will, however, deplete vitamin C levels.
    • Spuds have much else in their nutritional vitamin arsenal, being well-equipped with B complex vitamins, especially B1, B6 and niacin.
    • There’s a goodly array of minerals, such as magnesium and phosphorous, residing spudside too. They’re particularly rich in potassium, the consumption of which, if thisrecent article is to be believed, may predispose a woman to conceive male children. Many’s the royal spouse who could, no doubt, have done with that information.
    • Sodium quantity is low, which is good for those who need, or want, to avoid excessive amounts in their diet.
    • You’ll find a host of trace elements in a potato, from aluminium to zinc, and its ironcontent can contribute significantly to daily requirements.

Salad blue and highland burgundy red

  • Highly-coloured potato varieties – those with blue, purple, red or even just yellow flesh – are rich in antioxidants, though specific concentrations will vary with different varieties. Recent research has shown that their consumption may lower susceptibility to certain chronic diseases, when compared with eating white-fleshed potatoes.
  • Overall, potatoes are an alkaline food source, with high levels of potash and alkaline salts. This makes them a good thing to eat if you’ve got a hangover, when acidity levels in the body are elevated.
  • While the focus of the book Potatoes, Not Prozac is about managing biochemical imbalances brought about by sugar sensitivity, consuming complex carbohydrates, such as potatoes and their skins, is part of its dietary solution for mental health and well-being.
  • All potatoes contain glycoalkaloids, which can be toxic if present in large quantities. Whilst levels are safe in our cultivated varieties, concentrations will increase with exposure to light. This exposure also results in greening of the potato and, although it’s a separate process, it acts as a useful indicator of increased glycoalkaloid content. What I’m trying to say is, don’t eat the green bits, ok?
  • Finally, If you’ve eaten potatoes for long enough, you’ve probably come across those that show browning or a hollow at the heart of the spud (which occurs due to abrupt changes in growing conditions). These browned centres are known in Irish as cuasán(pronounced coo-a-sawn). My father’s mother’s mother, I’m told, regarded it as a delicacy, while my mother’s father’s father maintained that the best part of the potato was that found around the cuasán. All I can say is that, if it was good enough for them, it’s plenty good enough for me.

CardioBuzz: Vegan Diet, Healthy Heart?

Published: Jul 21, 2014 | Updated: Jul 21, 2014


In this guest blog, Kim A. Williams, MD, a cardiologist at Rush University in Chicago and the next president of the American College of Cardiology, explains why he went vegan and now recommends it to patients.

Physicians want to influence their patients to make lifestyle changes that will improve their health, but sometimes the roles are reversed and we are inspired by patients. It was a patient’s success reversing an alarming condition that motivated me to investigate a vegan diet.

Just before the American College of Cardiology’s (ACC) annual meeting in 2003 I learned that my LDL cholesterol level was 170. It was clear that I needed to change something. Six months earlier, I had read a nuclear scan on a patient with very-high-risk findings — a severe three-vessel disease pattern of reversible ischemia.

The patient came back to the nuclear lab just before that 2003 ACC meeting. She had been following Dean Ornish, MD’s program for “Reversing Heart Disease,” which includes a plant-based diet, exercise, and meditation. She said that her chest pain had resolved in about 6 weeks, and her scan had become essentially normalized on this program.

When I got that LDL result, I looked up the details of the plant-based diet in Ornish’s publications — 1- and 5-year angiographic outcomes and marked improvement on PET perfusion scanning — small numbers of patients, but outcomes that reached statistical significance.

I thought I had a healthy diet — no red meat, no fried foods, little dairy, just chicken breast and fish. But a simple Web search informed me that my chicken-breast meals had more cholesterol content (84 mg/100 g) than pork (62 mg/100 g). So I changed that day to a cholesterol-free diet, using “meat substitutes” commonly available in stores and restaurants for protein. Within 6 weeks my LDL cholesterol level was down to 90.

I often discuss the benefits of adopting a plant-based diet with patients who have high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension, or coronary artery disease. I encourage these patients to go to the grocery store and sample different plant-based versions of many of the basic foods they eat. For me, some of the items, such as chicken and egg substitutes, were actually better-tasting.

There are dozens of products to sample and there will obviously be some that you like and some that you don’t. One of my favorite sampling venues was the new Tiger Stadium (Comerica Park) in Detroit, where there are five vegan items, including an Italian sausage that is hard to distinguish from real meat until you check your blood pressure — vegan protein makes blood pressures fall.

In some parts of country and some parts of world, finding vegan restaurants can be a challenge. But in most places, it is pretty easy to find vegan-friendly options with a little local Web searching. Web searching can also help with the patients who are concerned about taste or missing their favorite foods. I typically search with the patient and quickly email suggestions.

Interestingly, our ACC/American Heart Association (AHA) prevention guidelines do not specifically recommend a vegan diet, as the studies are very large and observational or small and randomized, such as those on Ornish’s whole food, plant-based diet intervention reversing coronary artery stenosis. The data are very compelling, but larger randomized trials are needed to pass muster with our rigorous guideline methodology.

Wouldn’t it be a laudable goal of the American College of Cardiology to put ourselves out of business within a generation or two? We have come a long way in prevention of cardiovascular disease, but we still have a long way to go. Improving our lifestyles with improved diet and exercise will help us get there.