When I tell people that I try to eliminate most oil from my diet they look at me like I’m crazy. They think I’m being extreme. Not that long ago I probably would have thought the same thing too though. I think most people grow up being taught that olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil etc. are health promoting and good for us. Up until I began my Plant-Based Nutrition certificate program at the beginning of this year, I sautéed and baked with olive oil on pretty much a daily basis. After getting into the nitty gritty of my class and learning the reasoning behind why oil is not a member of the plant-based lifestyle family, I majorly cut my oil intake.
To be clear, I still do consume small quantities of oil on occasion. I’d say 90% of the time oil is not included in anything that I eat, but sometimes I like cooking/baking with plant-based butter (which has oil), my favorite snack is tortilla chips (which has oil), and if I do dine out (which is rare) it is more difficult to find oil free vegan options. All in all though, oil has a very small role in my overall eating habits. I’ve found plenty of great ways to cook and bake sans oil (I’ll discuss this more down below).
So why is oil bad?
Since we’ve been taught for so long that certain oils are good for us, it’s hard to completely alter this way of thinking. Even early on in my studies, I still didn’t want to come to terms with the fact that oil was bad for me. I had kind of an aha moment
months ago when, for some reason, I had olive oil all over my hands and I was trying to wash it off. I kept rubbing my hands together and the oil just kept spreading to other parts of my hands. It wasn’t until I got loads of sudsy soap involved that I was able to wash my hands clean. To me, this was a visual representation of what was being discussed in my nutrition program. When we consume oil, our endothelial cells, which line the inside of our blood vessels, are being coated with oil...and it’s not like this oil is just being washed away but chugging down some water either. This oil is sticking and causing harm.
Dr. Esselstyn, a well known physician and heart disease expert, wrote a recent article titled, Is Oil Healthy?, featured in the journal of Disease Reversal and Prevention where he stated, “consumption of processed oils whether monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, or saturated contribute to the endothelial dysfunction and atherosclerosis”[pg.35-36] (aka plaque buildup in the coronary arteries leading to heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and/or even death). Furthermore, eating a fully plant-based diet with no oil has the ability to REVERSE CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE! Dr. Esselstyn and colleagues conducted a study where they had 198 participants with “significant coronary artery disease” follow a plant-based, no oil diet. After 4 years, 99.4% of the adherent participants had zero cardiac events. Participants were able to avoid further artery damage and even reverse the damage that had been done. A lot of doctors nowadays jump right to pills or surgery to fix heart related problems (really any problems)...turns out eating clean and avoiding oil not only “does the trick” but usually does it better than conventional methods. If you or a loved one is struggling with heart disease, I highly recommend reading Dr. Esselstyn’s book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. If you decide you need some extra help with making the transition into a healthier lifestyle, check out my plant-based nutrition coaching services.
Cooking without oil.
The idea of cooking and baking without oil may seem cumbersome, but it is actually quite easy. Below are some of the tips I’ve found useful thus far.
Use water or vegetable broth for sautéing, season as usual
I often sauté veggies and/or tofu in liquid aminos or soy sauce
When sautéing, keep an eye on whatever you are cooking and add small amounts more of water or vegetable broth if the pan begins to dry, stirring frequently helps as well
If baking veggies, use water or vegetable broth to keep moist. It sometimes helps to cook on a slightly lower heat as well.
Applesauce, nut butter, cooked sweet potato, avocado, mashed banana, etc. are great ingredients to bake with in order to keep baked goods moist.
Ditching oil can be challenging, especially if oil has played a big role in your dietary eating habits thus far. Some find it easier to gradually cut out oil from their diets, while others like to go cold turkey. If bettering your health is something you are striving towards, and especially if you are at risk for heart disease, I urge you to further explore the abundant resources regarding oil and the many benefits to cutting it out. Dr. Esselstyn’s book and website are a great place to start.
Questions regarding oil, plant-based eating, or my nutrition coaching services? Feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.