What do the well known leaders in the whole plant-based movement have in common? There are many unifying messages amongst these leaders who rely on evidence-based nutritional science to guide their practice principals. One of the key messages has to do with the absence of oil. Any oil. Any oil refers to all oils including all animal-derived oils, vegetable oils as well as nut and seed oils. Any and all oil when cooking or served in condiments, like salad dressings, needs to be avoided.
Oils can be helpful for our outer body needs – like in lotions, creams and conditioners for our skin and hair. They are sometimes used in prescribed medicines. However, they have no place in the food consumption.
Both the monounsaturated and saturated fats contained in oils are harmful to the vital inner most lining of all our arteries and blood vessels. This lining called the ‘endothelium’ does an important job in helping our blood vessels to vasodilator and constrict as we perform our daily activities. These same arteries also have the important job of transporting oxygen throughout our body. Our vital organs need this oxygen is function properly.
What does oil do for our body?
- This highly processed product is virtually devoid of nutrients – except Vitamin E and Vitamin K
- It is most caloric dense “food” – its calories are 100% fat (1 gram of fat= 9 cal)
- It slows the blood flow because oil causes the red blood cells to clump up thereby limiting their ability to absorb and deliver oxygen to our cells. This is called ‘flow-mediated dilation’ – which studies show decreases by over 30% for four hours after eating a fatty meal (increased vessel spasm)
- Promotes heart disease by increasing the plaque build-up which then clogs the arteries and leads to heart attacks (Journal of the American Medical Association reports all oils, whether saturated, monounsaturated (olive oil) and polyunsaturated (flax oil) – were associated with this plaque build-up)
- It suppresses our immune system, according to the National Institute of Health, which makes us vulnerable to infection and impairs our ability to stop the growth of cancer cells in our bodies
What about Omega -3s and Omega-6s that we do need?
Omega -3s and Omega -6s fatty acids are two types of polyunsaturated fatty acids in which our cells are unable to produce and must, instead come from what we eat. Our need is very small – the National Academy of Sciences reports we only need 1/4 tSp (women) and 1/3 tSp (men) of fatty acids per day. This represents only 1-3% of daily calorie intake and can easily be achieved by sprinkling a tablespoon of ground flax seeds on our breakfast cereal.
What about antioxidants like polyphenols?
While polyphenols are found in olive oil, they are also found in whole plant foods like fruits and vegetables without the fat or high calorie density. For example, compare 4 lettuce leaves (12 calories, no fat) to 1 tBsp of olive oil (120 calories, all fat) – both offer the same amount of polyphenols. Which would you choose?
How does somebody cook without oil?
Very simply. You can use stick-free or no oil cookware or just plain stainless steel. Then use water, vegetable broth, juice, wine or beer to saute vegetables Often it is helpful and even delicious to start by cooking your onion first – on high temperature – it sweats and this moisture adds flavour and depth to any dish as you add other ingredients. For baking substitute the oil with: apple sauce or even sweet potato. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or use silicone bake ware for the non-stick benefits (also makes for easy clean-up).
So why not free yourself from oil – your body will thank you!