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The Other Side of Olive Oil: My View

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The Other Side of Olive Oil: My View

Consider this: all oils are 100% fat! Furthermore, broken down or “oxidized” as soon as its processed, exposed to air, heat and UV rays. This breakdown can cause inflammation; “it is now widely recognized that inflammation is the pathologic mechanism underlying most chronic diseases-heart disease, diabetes, chronic pain, asthma, inflammatory gut disorders, degenerative diseases, obesity, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease1”.

Using my personal experience with weight loss and corporate wellness clients, I’ve found that we tend to overdo oils. Due to deceiving marketing strategies, most believe that olive oil is healthy and should be used as often as possible. One of my first lessons that I teach clients is how calorie dense oils are.

Dr. Dean Ornish says about olive oil: “At 120 calories a tablespoon it’s very easy to eat too much of ’a bad thing’”. Oil may not raise your cholesterol as much as fats like butter, but it is still on the rise! The “heart healthy” fatty acid that actually reduces inflammation is called omega-3 and olive oil only carries maybe 1%. Oil does however carry a substantial amount of omega-9s, which has shown to impair blood vessel function2.

I utilize a three-day diet diary and show them how many calories are being consumed by oil. The average person is nearly obsessed with olive oil. But olive oil can become oxidized very easily. When oxidation occurs, the oil loses its nutrients and becomes a product that the body cannot process naturally. The most common occurrence happens when the oil reaches its “smoke point” while cooking. At this point the oil burns, smells and will produce a meal that would not taste as delicious as it normally would when you cook below its smoke point. Extra-virgin olive oil should not be used for cooking at temperatures over 365 – 400°F. Normally, I receive agitated responses like: “but its heart healthy,” “well what should I eat then!”

Well, cooking at medium temperatures with cold pressed extroversion olive oil and macadamia nut oil; and at high temperatures with coconut oil, and organic ghee. Coconut oil is high in lauric acid, which is known to raise HDL and LDL but has a very high smoke point3. I also recommend macadamia nut oil due to its high smoke point. Organic ghee is nutty tasting, residue has been removed and also has a high smoke point.

When we eat out or eat processed foods, we are receiving a great deal of inflammation causing harm to our body. For instance, soy alone contributes to around 80% of all cooking oils3 on the market in mainly GMO United States4. This is part of the handout below for a corporate lecture:

  • Industrial seed oil
    • Safflower, sunflower, corn, cottonseed, sesame, peanut and soybean
    • They are found everywhere – like in dressing, chips, crackers, and restaurant food
    • The heavy amount of omega-6 fatty acids causes inflammation, which causes weight gain, and is associated with nearly all disease.

Patients who have inflammation usually have a history of consuming too many omega-6 fatty acids and not enough omega-3 fatty acids5.  The industrial-grade seed oils are extremely pro-inflammatory and cause massive oxidative stress5.  Research has shown that at least 95% of cancers and other diseases have two primary causes – diet and environment6,7. There are so many environmental toxins that we have no control over, but changing what we eat is something we can control. Understanding how to use oils will go a long way by reducing the chances of inflammation and is a great starting point!

Therefore, I recommend a quality of oils, but in limited amounts. For example, a large number of olive oils contain processed soybean and hazelnut oil3. When purchasing oils, make sure the California olive oil council logo is on the bottle to ensure quality. Also, if the oil is imported, look for DOP, AOC, DPO or DO, again to confirm it as a quality oil3. Furthermore, cold pressed is minimally processed therefore containing more nutrients and extroversion olive oil has the highest level of final nutrients3. I would not recommend canola oil since it is made from rapeseeds, undergoes heavy heat processing and is laden with pesticides3. Next, the storage of olive oil or any oil is absolutely critical for containing nutrients. Olive oils should never be store around heat; it should be used within two months and corked immediately after use. Finally, always store in containers that will prevent light exposure. Please take home these messages: once anything is processed (ie. any oil), the nutrients are lost and finally, if a recipe calls for an abundance of oil, it is not health promoting. Be aware of the oils you are using and the temperatures you are using to cook these oils with.


  1. Rakel D. Integrative Medicine. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2012. Page 795
  2. Robert A. Vogel, MD, FACC, Mary C. Corretti, MD, FACC, Gary D. Plotnick, MD, FACC.  The Postprandial Effect of Components of the Mediterranean Diet on Endothelial Function.  Journal of the American College of Cardiology .  Vol. 36, No. 5, 2000.Keys, A. (84060 Pioppi (SA), Italy), A. Menotti, M. J. Karvonen, The diet and 15-year death rate In the Seven Countries Study. Am J Epidemiol 1986; 124:903 15.
  3. Barts S. The chemistry connecting nutrients to food. NTR 5602 Food Science week 7 lecture notes PDF
  4. The Weston A Price Foundation. Studies showing adverse effects of dietary soy, 1939-2008. Available at: https://www.westonaprice.org/soy-alert/studies-showing-adverse-effects-of-soy
  5. Aggarwal, B. B., Krishnan, S., Guha, S. Inflammation, Lifestyle and Chronic Disease: The Silent Link. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. 2012
  6. Rogers, S A – Using organic acids to diagnose and manage recalcitrant patients. Alternative therapy, Jul/Aug 2006, Vol. 12 No4.
  7. Perera, F P – molecular epidemiology: insight into cancer susceptibility, risk assessment and prevention. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1996;88(8):496-509,April 17, 1996


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Dr. Jack Kunkel offers alternative medical services that provides custom and effective solutions for your body and mind by using a three-step strategic approach based on key pillars such as nutrition, exercise, and herbs & whole food supplements.