Why is oil-free cooking a good idea?

Why is oil-free cooking a good idea?

Free oils (olive, canola, avocado, walnut, coconut, sunflower oils etc etc) are not whole foods.

Oils are devoid of fibre, and so have no significant content of the thousands of phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals naturally occurring in plants. This includes olive and coconut oils too, even though they have been given a reputation of being good. 

The Mediterranean diet and Lyon Diet Heart Study showed benefits compared to other diets with regards to heart disease reduction because of the high intake of anti-oxidant rich vegetables and fruits, in spite of the olive oil not because of it.

Chemically speaking, free oils are chains of carbon found in a purified state.  Extraction processes have removed most of the other ingredients of the whole food.

Extra virgin olive oil (and canola oil) contains mono saturated fats and polyunsaturated fats and are definitely better than eating butter (saturated fat), other higher saturated fat oils ( coconut) and trans fats, all of canslow blood flow for hours after a fatty meal. But they certainly not better than eating the whole food and are not really essential in our diets. 

Eating the olive or the coconut flesh is definitely better, being full of fibre trapping all nature’s antioxidants rather than eating olive oil or coconut oil, the latter being possibly the only vegetable oil that raises triglycerides implicated in heart disease. 

Oils are considered pro inflammatory and are implicated in damaging the inner lining of blood vessels (endothelial function) causing heart disease, diabetes and by a similar action may increase the risk of breast cancer. Fat (including oils) may have a direct tumour growth effect independent of oestrogen on tissues. Authentic cold pressed extra virgin olive oil may be an exception and small amounts can be added to one’s diet, if one wishes and weight loss is not a consideration.

Over 70 % of the world’s population is now overweight or obese. Oils are an empty source of calories with one tbsp of oil costing you 120 kcal. It is much better to eat the whole olive or the whole coconut rather than their oils. 

Nuts and seeds and avocados give you the healthy fats without needing to reach for the oils in cooking heated to high temperatures, although canola oil for example is more heat stable.

I encourage and advice my patients to learn by starting to reduce the oil by half every week until using none or a spray. Alongside, learn to cook with hot water, apple purée, stock or wine, all of which do a brilliant job. There are plenty of sites if you wish to learn how to cook oil free. 

If you really want the flavour, add a few drops of oil to a dish (for e.g. a couple of drops of cold pressed mustard oil to Bengali dishes, a couple of drops of cold pressed coconut oil to South Indian vegetable dishes or a tiny amount of sesame oil to Chinese dishes).

Add balsamic vinegar or lemon or learn to make fat free dressings to your colourful salads rather than olive oil.

Use salt, sugar and oil as flavourings rather than main features of any dish. Use herbs, spices, flavoured vinegars and lemon juice as alternatives. 

Eating a diet rich in whole plant foods with minimal or no oil (and minimal or no added salt or sugar) works especially well if you are trying to avoid lifestyle diseases including heart disease, diabetes, lifestyle cancers (breast, bowel, ovarian and prostate), encourages healthy gut bacteria and promotes general good health and weight loss.

Learn more here: https://plantbasedhealthprofessionals.com/oil-or-no-oil-a-viewpoint