Plant-Based Doctors In Twitter Row Over Olive Oil


2 Minutes Read

Dr. Danielle Belardo is a vegan cardiologist and plant-based advocate (Photo: Dr. Danielle Belardo) - Media Credit:

A fierce row broke out on Twitter in recent days – over whether olive oil should be part of a healthy plant-based diet.

The spat started after vegan Cardiology Fellow Dr. Danielle Belardo, an American Board of Internal Medicine Board Certified Physician, tweeted about plant-based fats – saying they do not cause heart disease.

Plant-based fats

The tweet said: “Controversial nutrition tweet: plant-based people saying avocado, nuts, and EVOO [extra virgin olive oil] is identical to keto people saying fruit causes diabetes. Can’t we all just use some reason and meet in the middle?”

This prompted journalist Jeff Nelson, VegSource founder, to respond, branding Dr. Belardo one of the ‘new wave’ of whole food plant-based doctors, who ‘have no idea of the history and evidence of plant-based diets’.


The altercation peaked when Nelson made a couple of memes, depicting the image of an oversexualized blonde doctor, wearing a short, low-cut dress.

The memes talked about cardiologists and olive oil. One said: “My cardiologist just gave me a prescription for olive oil. I’m not sure what she wants me to do with it, but the latest research says I should…”

The other featured a cartoon blonde doctor holding a syringe of olive oil. It said: “Olive oil: job security for cardiologists.”

These memes were described as ‘sexist’ and ‘unprofessional’ by some people within the medical community. In a YouTube video about the incident, Nelson denied sexism, or harassing Dr. Belardo – but did say he has been rude – for which he apologized.


Nelson told Plant Based News: “The evidence in the plant-based research community beginning in 1946 and continuing today – strongly indicates that limiting total fat (including plant fats) while following a vegan diet is the preferred path to prevent and reverse heart disease – and many other diseases.

“In the past 15 to 20 years, industry-sponsored research has muddied the waters about what is and isn’t ‘heart-healthy’. These industries are spending vast sums of money to try to make the case for their products being ‘heart-healthy’.

“People should not be taken in by food industry research, which is almost always biased. Vegans are usually good at spotting sketchy research from the egg and dairy industries; some vegans have a harder time seeing bias from vegan food industries though.”

American College of Cardiology

Dr. Belardo told PBN that her views are in line with a major health organization.

She said: “I agree with the views of the American College of Cardiology, which state that ‘the evidence base for olive oil is the most comprehensive, with clear evidence for a benefit in ASCVD risk reduction. The 2015 to 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans support the use of liquid vegetable oils within the context of a calorie-controlled, heart-healthy diet to decrease ASCVD risk’.”

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