In my Wellness Coaching practice I constantly find myself educating people about why they should not be using oils on a daily basis. I hear comments like, “we only use cold pressed organic olive oils to cook with” or “we only use organic unrefined oils on our salad”.
If you’re going to use oil at all, those are good choices but the use of oils on a daily basis is not health promoting. Oils are concentrated forms of fat and even though they come from plant foods which are healthy, these concentrated fats can cause insulin spikes in the blood when fruit or sugar are consumed in the same day. Oils also slow blood flow and digestion for 2 or more hours. When digestion slows for this amount of time, fermentation can take place, causing undesirable gas as well as nutrients to not be digested properly.
Typically I find that people who think they are eating a “healthy diet” are actually consuming 40+ grams of fat each day. At breakfast they are having a couple of slices of whole wheat bread with organic butter or waffles made with canola oil or eggs cooked in canola oil. Lunch is a salad with vinaigrette dressing and chicken breast (14 grams of fat+8 for the chicken) and dinner is a meal cooked in canola or olive oil (another 14 grams of fat per tablespoon).
Consuming more than 40 grams of fat a day, whether it consists of “healthy oil” or not is not health promoting. Fat is fat! It doesn’t matter if it comes from olive oil or walnuts- if you are consuming more than 20% calories from fat each day you are creating poor health that could create unwanted health problems long term. According to Dr. Douglas Graham, author of the 80/10/10 diet (who actually recommends we get 10% of calories from fat daily), “higher than healthy levels of fat in the bloodstream force fat to precipitate out and adhere to arterial walls, a condition known as “artherosclerosis” (hardening of the arteries). Of course this occurs over time when breakfast, lunch and dinner consistently contain fat!
Oils also stimulate appetite and can trigger overeating when combined with spices. The flavor of the food is enhanced, creating an addictive quality. How often have you gone back for second or third helpings of any dish cooked in oil, (even when you were full) because the food just tasted so good?
We do need fat in the diet, but the best sources are from whole food sources like avocados and raw, unsalted nuts and seeds. On a 2,000 calorie a day diet, you would eat a maximum of 120 calories per day which equates to one of the following:
-less than 1 oz of nuts or seeds
-half a small avocado
-1 tbsp of oil
How can you cook food without oil? Use a high quality non-stick pan and cook food at medium low heat using water or vegetable broth. You can also use a bamboo steamer basket to lightly steam vegetables.
Salads are best eaten with home made fat free raw dressings. Some simple ones include plain lemon juice or pureed tomato and celery.
Does all this mean you can never use oil again? No. Oil can still be enjoyed on special occasions. You will find that when you remove it from your diet for a period of several months, you won’t miss it.