Never heard of BART test?  Few people have.

A few months ago I watched a debate between an apostle for whole-foods, plant-based nutrition and an apostle for the Paleo diet. For every fact had by one, the other offered a fact to counter. But neither party mentioned the one study or test that would likely have ended the debate with the finality of a ton of bricks slamming to the ground.

Do those kind of debates, you know, my-fact-is-better-than-your-fact debates, help anyone? Likely not. There is a better way to determine what nutritional program is helpful or not. YOU SHOULD BE AWARE OF THIS even if the food industry hopes you never learn of this, even if nutritional authors pray you never learn of this, and even if the pharmaceutical companies beg the Lord Him-, or Herself, that you never hear of what I am about to share with you.

There is a TEST that is referenced by Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D. author of the book PREVENT and REVERSE HEART DISEASE and author of numerous peer-reviewed, evidence-based, science-strong, research papers.  That test is called the Brachial Artery Tourniquet Test, (BART).

Inside your arteries is a lining called the endothelium. It’s a very thin layer, about 1-cell thick, that produces nitric oxide, that, in turn, allows your arteries to be healthy and allows your arteries to dilate, (grow wider), to expand, to allow more blood to be supplied on demand. The ability of the endothelium to produce nitric oxide to encourage your arteries to expand is a good thing.

Damaging the endothelium is not a good thing. When we damage our endothelium it can’t produce as much nitric oxide as we need for our arteries and that can result in restrictions in the arteries that, in turn, may damage not only the arteries themselves, but also any, or every, other organ from damage to the skin, to damage to the heart, brain, ear drums, eyes, etc. In other words, we want to protect the ability of our arteries to remain elastic, expandable, so maximum amounts of blood can always flow to every organ of our body.

Certain foods damage the endothelium and therefore hamper or temporarily paralyse the ability of the arteries to expand.  Dr. Esselstyn describes those foods as, “Throwing gasoline on a fire!”

A very significant way to detect if foods are endangering the ability of the arteries to expand is to test and measure the time and speed of “bounce back” after a section of the arteries is purposefully constricted for a period of time. That’s what the BART test does. It measures the ability of arteries to bounce back after being compressed and after eating a meal.

The BART test involves test subjects having a cuff placed on their arm, like a doctor’s blood pressure cuff, to choke off the blood supply for a few minutes, then the cuff is released. A researcher/doctor then watches, via ultra-sound, to measure the length of time it takes for the arteries to expand back to their pre-compression dimensions.

If your arteries respond and expand back to normal instantly upon removal of the constricting cuff, or, instantly or nearly instantly, then your food, your diet, is described as BART-NEUTRAL, or BART-ZERO. [Not to be confused with the BRAT diet. See End Note #1]

In his book, Dr. Esselstyn mentions that Dr. Vogel had performed the BART test on a group of subjects fed a fat-laden meal. The no-fat group’s arteries rebounded almost instantly. That no-fat group whose arteries bounced back nearly immediately, was deemed to have eaten a BART ZERO or BART NEUTRAL meal. A BART Zero meal can be considered “safe” for the arteries. [Let’s use BART = 0 as a baseline.]

Those people in the test who ate a fat-laden meal temporarily paralysed their arteries’ ability to rebound and expand. Dr. Esselstyn citing Dr. Vogel’s BART study, mentioned that even 2 hours after eating their meal, their arteries failed to expand and remained constricted. It required as much as 6 hours or more before their arteries returned to pre-test arterial responsiveness. See End Note #1  [For discussiion sake, let’s assign a BART = 6 to that meal.]

Of course, I am developing a new scale as I write this. There is no such scale, yet. But you can see how if some researchers put their mind to it, there can easily be developed a useful BART SCORE for foods. If there was, then we’d have a definitive test for foods and diets and there’d be no debate about which is the superior food, diet, or lifestyle.

Dr. Esselstyn states:

“…if labelling on all packaged foods carried information on their BART status, we would [be]…enlightening citizens and helping them make informed choices about…their health.”  See End Note #2

So there you have it. When someone claims to have a healthy diet or a healthy food, simply ask for the real proof.  Ask for a BART score. Likely you’ll have to explain the BART test to them since so few researchers test in this way that the test itself is almost never heard of.

So, let me put the challenge out there….If the PALEO DIET is as good as a whole-foods, plant-based diet, then go ahead and prove it with Bart tests. Same challenge goes for the Atkins’ diet, the Wheat Belly recommendation, the Ketosis diets, and on and on…BART test it.  If it is Bart neutral, Bart zero, then it may be just as good as whole-plant-based foods.

“…imagine the damage done by 3 [fat-laden] meals a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for decades” See End Note #2


  1. The BRAT diet, [not to be confused with a BART test], is one that used to be, and no longer is, recommended for people suffering from diarrhea and dehydration. It has since been deemed to be of little or no benefit so has fallen out of favour. The BART test, or as I refer to it, the BART DIET measure temporary “paralysis” to the elasticity of one’s arteries.
  2. Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure, by Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr.  p. 39.
  3. op. cit. p. 109.