When we visited Valentin and Nanette Humer of Salute Santé! Grapeseed Oil in their office and processing facility on the outskirts of Napa, CA, I never thought I’d leave offering myself up as a medical guinea pig. Our intent was merely to introduce ourselves to the culinary benefits of grapeseed oil. Little did I know that this delicious all natural waste-product of the wine harvest would dramatically lower my bad (LDL) cholesterol, lower my triglycerides and improve my good (HDL) cholesterol in just a few weeks. Read on for my amazing stats.
The husband and wife team of Valentin and Nanette started Salute Santé! in 1995 creating cold-pressed extra-virgin grapeseed oil and grapeseed flour. These products have won numerous awards and have become the favorites of many celebrity chefs, including Charlie Trotter and Michael Chiarello. Chiarello even offers Salute Santé! single variety grapeseed oils along with their Gluten & GMO-free grapeseed flour in his acclaimed Napa Style Catalog.
Some years ago we had given up cooking with butter (due to my cholesterol issues) so we were anxious to explore using grapeseed oil in addition to the olive oils we use daily. With Nanette and Valentin we tasted a number of their single variety oils. They all had a creamy and buttery texture with just a hint of nuttiness that added to the delicious flavor profile. While admittedly the grapeseed variety flavor differences were subtle, the red grape seeds did seem to produce a slightly nuttier and more complex flavor for which we have found a number of uses, including home-made salad dressings. We also enjoyed the grapeseed flour Gluten-free scone Nanette baked for us. Local bakers around Napa and Sonoma are using Salute Santé! Gluten-free flour as an addition (10%-30%) to their gluten-free and flour-based baked goods to add a unique depth of flavor.
All of Salute Santé! products are available at their online store.
Back to the oils. Valentin and Nanette began discussing the health benefits of grapeseed oils. Since we use almost exclusively olive oil in our cooking already, I wasn’t getting too excited. There are any number of healthy oils readily available. Then they started talking about a couple of somewhat obscure studies that showed significant cholesterol improvement in small control groups. They were so adamant about the health benefits that right then I decided to put the Humer’s claims to the test. Luckily, I had a cholesterol test only six weeks earlier as part of my annual physical and was due for a more in-depth blood test in four weeks for my annual cardiologist checkup. I offered to use grapeseed oil as our exclusive oil for the trial period and to be honest; I was not expecting much…was I ever surprised!
After leaving, I did some of my own research and found the two studies the Humer’s had discussed. They were both fairly old but credible, published by the American Heart Association and Journal of American College of Cardiology, carried out by the State University of New York Health Science Center, Syracuse, NY. I also found a lot of health food articles on grapeseed oil extract. I am afraid of trying extracts after witnessing my wife’s near fatal liver reaction to green tea extract. Sometimes extracts are just too much of a good thing. So it would be just pure grapeseed oil for me…nothing more and no other dietary changes.
We used Salute Santé! grapeseed oil in a myriad of ways including just about any way olive oil could be used, and frankly I liked the taste a little better. The single variety choices proved to be delicious finishing oils over cheeses and charcuterie. In these instances we also used a few of the oils flavored with roasted garlic, basil or rosemary/lemon. The fact that grapeseed oil has a higher smoke point than olive oil made it easy to sauté vegetables, greens and meats. For stovetop cooking we used the less expensive cooking oil. I also used grapeseed oil in scrambled eggs which resulted in a creamier texture than olive oil. Just so I was fair to the test, on days when we did not used much oil, I drank a tablespoon…It is tasty.
The high smoke point is also a bonus on the grill. I always oil meats so they absorb more flavors from my spice rubs. Grapeseed oil also tends not to flame up as much as olive oil when dripping from the meat onto the fire.
So what were the results?…I was astonished. Disclosure: For over five years taken a low dose statin to reduce cholesterol…However, nothing in my diet, medications or exercise routine changed between blood tests.
Total Cholesterol…Before 182 After 154 (15% Improvement)
HDL Cholesterol …Before 64 After 71 (11% Improvement)
LDL Cholesterol …Before 96 After 64 (33% Improvement)
Triglycerides …Before 111 After 93 (23% Improvement)
I brought my earlier test, along with summaries of the studies, to my cardiologist’s office to discuss my results. He too was surprised and asked for additional information. The doctor did however suggest I reduce my fish oil intake if I was going to continue with grapeseed oil in similar quantities.
So I’m a believer. Today we still use Salute Santé! cooking and finishing oils on a daily basis and I will, as my cardiologist suggested, take another blood test in six months to compare results.
Salute Santé! products are available at their online store.
Full Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way for this blog post other than the sample oils necessary to conduct my one man trial. I am not a doctor. I have no medical training. I am just one person who appears to have received a cardiovascular benefit from the daily use of Salute Santé! Grapeseed Oil. To quote the Jimmy Buffett song, Off to See the Lizard, “What works for me, might work for you.”