Oil - Not An Ideal Choice For Health
I think most of us have been under the impression that some oils, such as olive oil, are healthy. This is simply not true. Any oil is a refined and processed food, therefore has had much, if not all, of the nutrient value removed from the original food source in the process of making it into an oil. All oils are 100% fat. Fat contains 9 calories per gram vs. carbohydrates and protein that have 4 calories per gram. A tablespoon of olive oil, for example, contains 120 calories, 100% from fat.
Plant-based physicians and biochemists (such as Dr. T. Colin Campbell, PhD, Dr. Tom Campbell, MD, Dr. Michael Greger, MD, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, MD) recommend getting only about 10% of daily caloric intake from fat. The typical standard American Diet (SAD) can have upwards of 25%+ calories from fat, often primarily from animal fat, which is laden with saturated fat and cholesterol. High amounts of animal fat intake is now known to be the primary contributor to Diabetes and obesity, and not the intake of carbohydrates as many still believe (1). But that is another topic for another post!
The best sources of fat are from plants in their whole foods form. In the whole food form, you also get other nutrients and not just 100% refined fat. Examples of plant-based foods that contain fat are: avocados, olives, nuts, and seeds. Below are examples of the nutrient contents of some common high fat, plant foods (2):
Avocado (per one cup) Walnuts (chopped/cup) Almonds (sliced/cup)
Calories 239 200 180
Protein 3 gm 5 gm 5 gm
Fat 22 gm 20 gm 15 gm
Carbohydrates 13 gm 4 gm 5 gm
Fiber 10 gm 2 gm 3 gm
Sugars 1 gm 1 gm 1 gm
Calcium 18 mg 29 mg 80 mg
Iron - 1 mg -
Potassium - 132 mg -
Comparatively, all of the above listed foods in oil form, contain 100% of their calories from fat and no other nutrients.
For people wishing to lose weight or prevent or reverse heart disease, it is best to limit, if not eliminate, any foods containing fat as they are high in calories and even plant fats can contribute to heart disease. A whole-foods, plant-based diet has been the only lifestyle shown to even REVERSE advanced heart disease. This can be read about in great detail in Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and Dr. Dean Ornish's work (3,4).
As I have essentially stopped cooking with oil, people often ask what I use as a replacement. Many of us cook with oil not realizing there are many ways to cook without it that taste just as good and have the added benefit of fewer calories and less fat. When I sauté, I now often start out with a dry sauté of onion and garlic, and then add vegetable broth to deglaze the pan and cook any vegetables further. Steaming is another excellent way to cook vegetables without oil. When roasting vegetables or baking, parchment paper can be used to line any pan or baking dish and can be used for temperatures up to 400 degrees. In baking products, a few examples of plant-based emulsifiers are: bananas, apple sauce, freshly ground flax seed, chia seeds, and agar agar (seaweed based flakes). For more details about how to cook/bake without oil, see my post from December 22, 2017 on "Plant Healthy Substitutes."
If anyone has any good suggestions of oil substitutions that have worked for them, I would love to hear about them! In addition to any thoughts, comments or questions.
In good health,
1. Campbell TC, Parpia B, Chen J. Diet, lifestyle, and the etiology of coronary artery disease: the Cornell China study. Am J Cardiol. 1998;82:18T–21T
2. USDA Food Composition Databases: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list
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I invite questions, comments, and thoughts anytime!