Oil should not be considered a health food. In fact, oil should be left completely out of the kitchen. The only places where oil, such as coconut oil, should reside in your home is in the bathroom or the bedroom.
All too often I hear things like, “Oil is healthy for us is moderation.” or “certain oils can be a healthy addition to your diet”. Some people go so far as giving oils like coconut oil or olive oil, “superfood” titles as if they do magically wonderful things inside our bodies.
“Oils…empty calories at best and carcinogenic junk foods at worst.” -Dr. Douglas Graham
Let’s take away all the propaganda and the studies that link oils to either the promotion of disease or the prevention of it. We all know studies can be skewed either way. We could very well dig deep and look into the studies showing both sides. But I, instead, like to look at nutrition and health in the most common sense terms when trying to help bring some perspective to the topic at hand. All oils are isolated foods. They are extracted fat from a whole food. To explain in simpler terms, coconut meat is a whole food. Isolate the fat from the coconut meat and you get coconut oil. Olives are a whole food. Isolate the fat from the olive and you get olive oil. Sesame seeds are a whole food. Isolate the fat from the sesame seed and you get sesame oil, etc.
Most everyone is in agreement that processed sugar, isolated carbohydrate from a whole food, is not a health food and should be classified as a “junk food”. An example of this is that sugar cane is a whole food. Isolate the carbohydrate from the sugar cane and you get cane sugar. Beets are a whole food. Isolate the carbohydrate from the beets and you get beet sugar.
The three macronutrients in food are the carbohydrate, protein, and fat. Why do we think isolated fat (oil) and isolated protein (protein powders) are any healthier than isolated carbohydrate (sugar)? Unfortunately, they are not. I actually am probed to say that oils are just as unhealthy, if not unhealthier, than sugar. Oil is 100% fat, meaning that all of its calories come from fat. In just one tablespoon of oil, you are consuming 120 calories of pure fat. And one tablespoon of oil doesn’t get you very far. When most people “drizzle” oil on a pan of vegetables about to go in the oven for roasting, the vegetables typically get much more than a drizzle and more resembles a bath. If we were meant to ingest such high quantities of isolated fat, then oil would be found in nature, in its natural state. But, of course, there is no such thing as an oil bush.
I actually am probed to say that oils are just as unhealthy, if not unhealthier, than sugar. Oil is 100% fat, meaning that all of its calories come from fat. In just one tablespoon of oil, you are consuming 120 calories of pure fat. And one tablespoon of oil doesn’t get you very far. When most people “drizzle” oil on a pan of vegetables about to go in the oven for roasting, the vegetables typically get much more than a drizzle and more resembles a bath. If we were meant to ingest such high quantities of isolated fat, then oil would be found in nature, in its natural state. But, of course, there is no such thing as an oil bush.
“Across the board, refined oils (including coconut, flax, olive, hemp, almond, borage, and the like, which are touted as “pure” or “special” because of their source or careful processing methods) are essentially empty calories, not fit for human consumption. They are stripped of the fiber, protein and carbohydrates that accompanied the whole foods from which they were derived, leaving an imbalanced fractional product that is 100% fat.” -Dr. Douglas Graham
Oil vendors say their expeller-pressed oils have special health benefits because of the phytonutrients in them. But these delicate micronutrients are much more potent when eaten in their whole form, left untouched until it reaches your mouth. God created these plant foods and presented them to us in the form they were meant to be eaten in.
Oils are very sensitive to heat, light, and oxygen. They go rancid very easily. Most oil companies do not take the necessary steps to prevent it from going bad. And even the one’s who tout the special care that goes into managing and creating their product, such as cold-pressed olive oil, have a high likelihood their oils have gone rancid too. This is because once it is exposed to air, it begins to oxidize. Once it goes bad it is toxic for the human body. Using oil for cooking guarantees the product to be rancid. Would you eat rotten fruit? Would you eat a moldy potato or smelly spinach? No, of course not. It is very easy to tell when whole foods have gone bad. When the sugars and starches in the food begin to ferment and break down it leaves an obvious negative smell and sight to the food. But with oil, the sugars have been removed, making it very hard to detect the rancidity.
“In the past 30 or 40 years, processed foods have appeared, which includes oil. A whole plant your body knows what to do with; processed foods, it doesn’t.” -Nutritional Biochemist Scientist, T. Colin Campbell
Quite often I hear, “But what about our omegas? Don’t we need to supplement our omego-3’s by taking flax and fish oils?”
In short, no. Quite frankly the omega-3 story has been distorted and widely misunderstood. We need the proper balance of omega-3‘s to 6‘s and the solution lies not in increasing our omega-3 fat intake, but rather, majorly decreasing our omega-6 fat intake. In the society we live in today we are loading ourselves with foods rich in omega-6 fats, which therefore brings us to an imbalance. The average American consumes about 30-45 percent of their calories from fat, which is much higher than it should be. Of those fats, the omega-6’s are dramatically outbalancing the omega-3s. All industrialized animal foods are extremely high in omega-6 fatty acids. The mass majority of seed and vegetable oils are loaded with omega-6 fats as well. These include, but are not limited to, safflower oil, corn oil, soybean oil, coconut oil, olive oil etc. This alone helps to explain why oil is not healthy for our bodies. Including oil in your diet automatically creates an imbalance of omegas in your body. Unless, of course, the only oil you include in your diet is flax or fish oil. But the omega-3 oils are the most sensitive to
All industrialized animal foods are extremely high in omega-6 fatty acids. The mass majority of seed and vegetable oils are loaded with omega-6 fats as well. These include, but are not limited to, safflower oil, corn oil, soybean oil, coconut oil, olive oil etc. This alone helps to explain why oil is not healthy for our bodies. Including oil in your diet automatically creates an imbalance of omegas in your body. Unless, of course, the only oil you include in your diet is flax or fish oil. But the omega-3 oils are the most sensitive to the heat of any oil, which brings you back to eating rancid food. Most people do not even realize how much oil they are actually eating. Some form of oil is found in most packaged processed foods. And it is very hard to avoid oil in restaurant foods. Soy and corn oil are currently the biggest sources of omega-6 fats in the USA because it is super cheap and found in all kinds of processed foods. But don’t take my word for it. Check it out for yourself and read the ingredient list on the packaged foods in your freezer and cupboard.
We thrive best somewhere between a 1:1 and 4:1 ratio of omega-6 to 3 fatty acids. The typical American diet tends to contain about 14-25 times more omega-6 than omega-3, and the common recommendation we are given to solve this problem is to increase your omega-3 fat intake. But we are already eating way too much fat. I will say again, the answer to this problem is not to eat more fat! You will never get to the optimal omega ratio by simply taking a couple tablespoons of fish or flax oil a day.
The solution is much simpler than you think.
Cut out animal foods and oil from your diet, and instead, choose to eat a wide variety of whole plant foods. Nuts and seeds should be eaten sparingly, because, in nature, we would not have access to bulk bin style nuts, which make it really easy to over eat them. If you had to pick the nut from the tree and open each nut by hand, I guarantee, you would eat far less than if you had a bag of nuts with each one already opened for you in your lap. By eating a whole foods vegan diet, you will naturally lower your omega-6 ratio and easily gravitate to the optimal balance for the human body. Fruits and vegetables supply us with all the omegas in the proper ratio that we need (and all the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients we need for that matter!). And it is spot on in terms of one ratio to the other.
By all means, fat is an essential nutrient and is good for us. But only WHOLE plant foods, containing fat in them are beneficial to the human body. We do not need near as much fat in our diets as what is typically assumed and consumed. Fat, regardless of whether it is plant fat or animal fat, is not healthy in excessive amounts. This is why, when you eat a whole foods vegan diet and minimize your nuts and seed intake, you will naturally eat a diet low in fat. We are physiologically designed to thrive on whole plant foods, and more specifically, whole, raw fruits, and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables all contain fat in them, but in much lower quantities than the animal foods and processed foods found in the standard American diet. And the majority of other whole plant foods like rice, root vegetables such as squash and potatoes, and quinoa are all low in fat as well.
Eating a diet where about 10% of your total calories comes from fat is widely recommended by strong standing health experts and nutritionists for optimal health and fitness. Among these distinguished professionals who are consistently reversing degenerative disease in their patients are Pritikin, McDougall, Harris, Heidrich, Fuhrman, Greger, Barnard, Klaper, Graham, Campbell, and Esselstyn, to name a few. Including oil in your diet does not fit the bill and makes it very hard to keep your diet low in fat.
Here are a couple examples of ways to replace the oil in your diet for healthful foods.
- Make your own dressings using fresh fruits and vegetables and occasionally include small amounts of overt plant fats like avocado, walnuts, or hemp seeds. A yummy example of this is by blending a little fresh orange juice with a couple tablespoons of hemp seeds, bell pepper and celery for a sweet and savory salad dressing. Or simply top your salad with lemon juice and 1/2 a mashed up avocado. Fresh tomatoes blended with sun-dried tomatoes (not soaked in oil of course) makes a wonderful raw marinara type dressing as well. The possibilities are endless.
- When sautéing vegetables, use water instead of oil.
- And you can easily bake potatoes, vegetables, and squash on baking paper or on an ECO nonstick, nontoxic baking sheet without any oil at all. Better yet, boil or steam whenever you can.
To end this post I thought it fitting to include this short video clip of a presentation made by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.
“Caldwell Esselstyn Jr, MD of Cleveland Clinic has shown heart disease can be reversed 100% of the time, using a plant-based diet. Olive oil — and ANY oil — increases heart disease, the same way butter does. If you want to avoid heart disease and cancer, ditch all oils, which are in any case just highly processed (i.e., junk) food.” -VegSource