Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Why I Don't Eat Oil

I stopped eating vegetable oil in 2013 after watching the documentary Forks Over Knives which recommends a Whole Food Plant Based Diet. All oils are highly processed substances, not whole food.

Out of all foods, refined oil is the most calorically dense at 120 calories per tablespoon. All the fiber, vitamins and minerals have been stripped away. Being high in calories and low in nutritive value, oil fits the definition of junk food.

Not only is it low in nutrients, but oil can be hazardous to health! That goes for all oils including olive oil and coconut oil even though they are often touted as healthy.

Olives are healthy, concentrated olive oil is not.

Because the Mediterranean Diet, known for being heart-healthy, includes olive oil, many people think olive oil lowers heart attack risk. However, it's not because of the oil but in spite of the oil that people do better on the Mediterranean Diet than the Standard American Diet. Rather than olive oil, it is more likely the abundant fruits, vegetables and beans in the diet that are protective.

Refined oils can lead to heart disease by damaging the endothelium. Endothelial cells line the insides of our blood vessels and produce nitric oxide which makes blood vessels dilate to increase blood flow. Nitric oxide also prevents blood cells from sticking together, forming plaque and adhering to the vessel walls. The plaque may rupture and cause heart attack or stroke. Whole fruits and vegetables are protective to blood vessels by enhancing rather than injuring nitric oxide production.

Besides the danger of cardiovascular disease, oil consumption increases cancer risk. Carcinogens are formed when cooking foods in oil. Eating oil that has gone rancid exposes the body to cancer causing free radicals. Vegetable oils can depress immune function and weaken the body's ability to fight off cancer and infections. According to Dr. Gerson, with the exception of flax seed oil, all oils make tumors grow.
  
We do need some fat in our diet. But it is not necessary to get fat from animal sources or refined vegetable oils. All plants, even lettuces, have some fat along with fiber, vitamins and minerals.

 whole food sources of fat: avocados, coconut, walnuts, olives
Most cooking oils don't have much flavor but do have a certain mouthfeel which can be replaced with small amounts of high-fat whole plant foods such avocados, coconuts, nuts, seeds and olives.

Kicking the oil habit was not hard for me even though I was addicted to processed foods. I doubt that I have more will power than the average person. It seems that in just a few weeks we can reset our taste buds to favor healthier food by consistently eating right. Perhaps that's one of the reasons the Whole Food Plant Based Diet is a sustainable way of eating for many people. When our palates actually prefer the natural flavors of simple healthy food, we're more likely to make better choices.

The fascinating book, The Pleasure Trap, by Drs. Lisle and Goldhamer discusses the psychology behind our dietary choices and how to break free from destructive habits.

Cooking without oil is easy. To saute: use a small amount of water or vegetable broth instead of oil. In salad dressings: blended nuts, seeds or beans can be substituted for the oil. For baking: use applesauce, bananas or beans for the oil. Instead of cooking spray: parchment paper or nonstick pans usually work well. As a bonus, cooking without oil makes the kitchen so much easier to clean up. Pots, pans and dishes are a breeze to wash.

Some of my favorite sources for oil-free plant based recipes: FatFreeVegan.comForksOverKnives.comDrMcdougall.com and NutritionStudies.org.

Whole Food Plant Based - no oil

I enjoy preparing and eating tasty nutritious meals without oil. Since I've been on the Whole Food Plant Based Diet, my body has been healing itself from various chronic illnesses. I am thrilled to be experiencing vibrant health and to have the strength and energy to do everything I want to do.

As I see it, refined oil is an unnatural and potentially harmful substance that can suppress the immune system, lead to heart disease, cancer and other illnesses. There's no special nutritional benefit from oil, just a lot of calories and health risks that I don't need. By opting out of oil, I've trained my taste buds to prefer the natural flavors of whole foods. Oil-free nourishment from plants helps me reach my health and fitness goals.

Related post: What I Eat in a Day as a Vegan

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