This major tenet to a whole foods, plant-based diet is probably the stickiest of them all. Most people can get on board with eating whole grains, fruits, nuts, seeds and veggies but when you tell them they cannot have oil they begin to panic. How do you cook? How do you eat salad without oil-laden dressings? What do you spray on your pans to prevent the food from sticking? How do you sauté? What about olive oil? Isn’t that supposed to be heart-healthy? Don’t they say that the Mediterranean Diet is good for you? The participants on the Mediterranean Diet were healthy despite consuming olive oil – their diets were mostly plant-based. What about coconut oil? All of the health benefits that are touted from the use of coconut oil? Isn’t coconut a whole food that comes from plants? Olives are fruits for goodness sake! Has the world gone mad?
The fat you eat is the fat you wear.
Oil is the most calorie dense food on earth. The oils that are used in cooking are 100% fat and contain next-to-no nutritional value. While vegetables typically have around 100 calories per pound and fruits 300 calories per pound, oil has 4,000 calories per pound. Fat in foods comes in all sizes and kinds but the long chain fatty acids associated with tropical oils such as coconut oil and palm oil directly impact your LDL cholesterol levels. On a weight by weight basis, coconut oil has more saturated fat than butter and lard and has an equal or greater impact on cholesterol levels. Oils actually displace good, quality nutrients.
The Other Good Oil?
Unlike coconut oil, olive oil is a monounsaturated fat and is therefore promoted as one of the “healthier” oils. It is touted as containing nutrient rich plant sterols and polyphenols. The problem with using olive oil as the way to obtain these valuable nutrients is that you would have to consume large amounts of calories to receive the same amount of plant sterols you would receive eating 11 calories of a green leafy vegetable. It still remains a pure fat, with very little nutrient content and therefore should be avoided.
Do No Harm
Research has shown in both humans and other primates that diets high in fat and cholesterol promote atherosclerosis. By contrast, research in animals and humans, such as the Stanford Coronary Risk Intervention Project, have demonstrated that diets very low in total fat and cholesterol can not only prevent atherosclerosis but actually shrink plaque and reverse atherosclerosis.
Now let’s take a look at what impact foods such as oils and animal products have on the body. First we have to understand some of the important components of our body. Let me introduce the endothelium.
Captains of the Body
Your blood vessels are lined with a one-cell thick layer of very delicate cells called endothelial cells. These “Teflon-like” cells play a vital role in the health and integrity of every tissue of the body. They serve as a semi permeable conduit between the blood and the rest of the body tissues. They are instrumental in producing nitric oxide which controls the dilation of blood vessels and in the production of new blood vessel formation. They help bring down inflammation by increasing the flow of blood through infected areas. They serve a dual role in both the production and the prevention of blood clots. All of this to say that, as a result of their importance to the integrity of blood vessels, they play a crucial role in the initiation of arterial disease.
When you consume foods such as oils and animal products and the toxic substances they contain, they instigate an inflammatory storm within the blood. This in turn produces damage to the endothelial cells which inhibits their ability to function. A single fatty meal has been shown to impair the ability of arteries to dilate for up to five hours. You can imagine what years and years of eating these kinds of foods would have on the integrity of your endothelial cells.
You don’t need oil to live a healthy life! You don’t need oil to cook healthy, delicious meals! Look at my recipes and you will see for yourself. If you need help in getting started and learning a different way to cook and eat go to my Services page. I can help you through this change.
Still Need More Facts and Discussion?
Here are some great online sources of additional discussions on the No Oil topic:
- Dr. Esselstyn’s Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease Program site discusses this very topic. Click on the following link, go to FAQs and then 4th bullet. www.dresselstyn.com/site/faq
- Matt Frazier’s site No Meat Athlete has a discussion on Why I’ve Finally Stopped Eating Oil. Click on the following link to read more. www.nomeatathlete.com
- Dr. Greger’s site has an article entitled I Should Use Coconut Oil Right? nutritionstudies.org/i-should-use-coconut-oil-right/
- Dr. Barnard’s site for The Physician’s Committee For Responsible Medicine has a plethora of information related to the “benefits” of oil. Type in “Oil” in the Search engine for pages of articles. www.pcrm.org
- Rip Esselstyn’s (Dr. Esselstyn’s son) site has a discussion on fish oil. Click on the following link: www.engine2diet.com
- Jeff Novick’s site is wonderful and full of great resources. Go to “Articles”, go to the bottom and click on Newsletter Archives and find the article entitled The Impact of “Just A Little Oil“. www.jeffnovick.com
- Video clip of what your blood vessels look like after a fatty meal: click here
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Let’s work together on your healthy future!
Feel free to email me directly if you have questions about beginning your personal nutritional journey.
Disclaimer: I am a Nutritional Coach and Culinary Instructor and I have a Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies via e-Cornell and a Plant-Based teaching certificate from Dr. Neal Barnard’s Physicans Committee For Responsible Medicine. In addition, I have a plant-based culinary certificate from the Rouxbe Culinary Institute. I stand behind all recipes, recommendations and nutrition information provided. Please read my full Legal and Affiliate Disclaimer for more information.