Is Oil Unhealthy Because it is Processed?
Oils are generally extracted from whole foods. Olive oil is pressed from whole olives, corn oil is pressed from corn, and so on. In the process of extracting the fat, valuable nutrients (such as fiber) are left behind. Oil is also much more calorie dense than the whole foods it is pressed from.
We can also consume more olive oil and get more calories because the oil has been aisolated from the plant fiber, and this can lead to overconsumption.
Olive oil is most commonly used to dress a salad or roast vegetables. In fact, adding oil to your salad helps you absorb more of the nutrients in those vegetables. And if it makes those vegetables more appealing and palatable, so that you eat more of them (and less of other things), it’s better.
As for valuable nutrients being left behind, many of the most beneficial nutrients in olives, nuts, seeds, and avocados—such as omega-3 fatty acids, phytosterols, vitamin E, and polyphenols—are fat soluble. These nutrients are not only present in the oil, but they are often in more concentrated amounts than you’d get from eating the whole foods.
Can Consuming Oil Lead to Weight Gain?
Some people claim that oil has more calories per gram than any other food, and without any fiber or water in it, this guarantees you will consume more calories at the meal than you need.
It’s true that oil is a concentrated source of calories but to say that to include oil in your diet will inevitably lead you to consume too many calories and gain weight is a falacy. Water and fiber add volume to foods, which helps feel satiated. Combining vegetables (with their high water and fiber content) with healthy fats such as those found in olive oil can be a winning combination in terms of nutrition, taste, and appetite control.
When you think about it, since oil is extracted from plants, it has become a processed food. The good nutrients like vitamins, phytochemicals and fiber that the plant originally offered are stripped away. So the healthy elements are missing and unfortunately, it’s no longer a whole food. There are better options to look out for when it comes to oils. Since many brands use different procedures, you have to become a label detective. If you are going to buy oil, make sure to purchase raw and cold-pressed oils as they aren’t heated to high temperatures during the extraction process. This means they are able to preserve more of the nutrients, making it a higher quality option.
All vegetable-based oils, which pretty much follow the same model as processed sugar, are pressed from plants. All the nutrients, including protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water, have been stripped away.
Some Oils are Healthier Than Others
Although I don’t think there’s a good argument for eliminating all oil from your diet, some oils are definitely healthier than others.
- Olive and avocado oil are both high in heart healthy monounsaturated fats and polyphenols.
- Coconut oil is very stable at high temperatures, so it’s a good choice for high heat cooking.
- Canola and walnut oil are both good sources of omega-3 fats.
Replace bad oils for good oils. Corn, soybean, canola, and sunflower oils contain inflammatory omega-6 fats and currently make up 10 percent of our calories. Instead, stick to extra virgin olive oil or extra virgin coconut butter (also known as coconut oil). Extra virgin olive oil contains polyphenols, which are powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds. Olive oil has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease as much as or more than statins. Coconut butter or oil is a powerful cellular fuel and also contains anti-inflammatory fats such as lauric acid, the same fat found in breast milk. For high-heat cooking, grape seed oil is also safe.
Check my article on Types of cooking oil on a vegan diet
How should i incorporate healthy fats?
Make sure to get your healthy fats from a variety whole plant foods like:
- Seeds: hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds
- Nuts: walnuts, almonds,cashews, hazelnuts, pine nuts, peanuts, pistacchios
If you are on a strict raw food diet, you wouldn’t need oils for food. You would need some oils like coconut oil for beauty related remedies.
Good news is, nuts, seeds, and avocados all contain oleic acid which is the compound that contributes to satiety.
Using soaked cashews, other nuts and seeds, coconut milk, and even avocados to make sauces and creamy toppings for pasta bakes and other dishes is a good option. Making an oil-free dressing is not only easy but a great (and tasty) way to pack in healthy fats.
Whether you prefer a smoothie-for-breakfast or morning bowl of oatmeal, you can sprinkle chia seeds, flax seeds, or hemp seeds, they are great with pretty much anything.
Include avocados in your meals like guacamole, Soups, Hummus, Avocado, and Sun-dried Tomato Sandwich. You can use avocados to make a healthier version of your favorite desserts, Raw Avocado Cacao Pudding (recipe here ).
This change is for people who are already on a raw vegan diet and are making progress towards an ideal natural diet. For vegans or vegetarians, using or consuming oils is not bad.
Getting closer to an ideal diet, you would choose natural foods as found in nature to eat. Natural fats, not refined, heated and processed, as found in nature. Therefore i would prefer to eat olives to olive oil, avocados to avocado oil, a coconut to coconut oil and nuts and seeds to nut or seed oils. It’s the refinement process what we are against. In nature nothing is aisolated, everything is in balance. So why would we do something different? We should consume those fats in the way nature presents those to us, with vegetable fiber and more nutrients, in balance. But in some preparations you might need oils. In that case choose raw cold-pressed extra virgin oils.