Hi, I’m Mary — welcome to my blog and website!

I am a plant-based nutrition advocate and educator, Registered Nurse, and Licensed Massage Therapist, living in the beautiful state of Maine!

Oil -  Not An Ideal Choice For Health

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:



Additional references/resources:

Bernstein AM, Willcox BJ, Tamaki H, et al. First autopsy study of an Okinawan centenarian: absence of many age-related diseases. J Geront A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2004; 59:1195–9.

Bradbury KE, Crowe FL, Appleby PN, Schmidt JA, Travis RC, Key TJ. Serum concentrations of cholesterol, apolipoprotein A-I and apolipoprotein B in a total of 1694 meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans. Europ J Clin Nutr. 2014;68:178–83.

Celermajer DS, Chow CK, Marijon E, Anstey NM, Woo KS. Cardiovascular disease in the developing world: prevalences, patterns, and the potential of early disease detection. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2012;60:1207–16. 

Connor WE, Cerqueira MT, Connor RW, Wallace RB, Malinow MR, Casdorph HR. The plasma lipids, lipoproteins, and diet of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico. Am J Clin Nutr. 1978;31:1131–1142.

Cooper R, Cutler J, Desvigne-Nickens P, et al. Trends and disparities in coronary heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases in the United States: findings of the national conference on cardiovascular disease prevention. Circulation. 2000;102:3137–47.

Enos WF, Holmes RH, Beyer J. Coronary disease among United States soldiers killed in action in Korea; preliminary report. JAMA. 1953;152:1090–1093

Fraser GE. Vegetarian diets: what do we know of their effects on common chronic diseases? Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89:1607S–12S.

Key TJ, Fraser GE, Thorogood M, et al. Mortality in vegetarians and nonvegetarians: detailed findings from a collaborative analysis of 5 prospective studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;70:516S–24S.

Kinjo K, Kimura Y, Shinzato Y, et al. An epidemiological analysis of cardiovascular diseases in Okinawa, Japan. Hypertens Res. 1992;15:111–9.

Lindeberg S, Lundh B. Apparent absence of stroke and ischaemic heart disease in a traditional Melanesian island: a clinical study in Kitava. J Intern Med. 1993;233:269–75.

Miller K. Lipid values in Kalahari Bushman. Arch Intern Med. 1968; 121:414.

Sinnett P, Whyte M. Lifestyle, health and disease: a comparison between Papua New Guinea and Australia. Med J Aust. 1978;1:1–5.

Willcox BJ, Willcox DC, Todoriki H, et al. Caloric restriction, the traditional Okinawan diet, and healthy aging: the diet of the world's longest-lived people and its potential impact on morbidity and life span. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2007;1114:434–55

I invite questions, comments, and thoughts anytime!

In good health,

Tom Brady Eats His Vegetables

Tom Brady Eats His Vegetables