Should Oil be considered a Health Food?

There has been much made of the ‘benefits’ of adding different oils to our diet by the health media in recent years. Olive Oil, Avocado Oil and Coconut Oil have been elevated to almost superfood status by certain studies, dieticians and authors of diet and wellness books. But let’s take away all the propaganda for a moment and take a closer look at the some of the truths hiding behind the hype about the “good fats” in oil.

Any food that has been isolated from its original, whole state is what we call a ‘refined’ food. For example, when we isolate carbohydrate from its original state of sugar cane we get processed white sugar. A junk food. Sugar cane, however, when consumed in it’s whole, natural and un-altered state is loaded with essential vitamins and minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese, and iron; alongside essential amino-acids that help burn fat and build muscle. The naturally occurring polisaccharides and oligosaccharides found in whole sugar cane are complex “healthy” sugars that have been unaltered from their original state. It is these complex sugars that are what are bodies need for real, sustained energy. When we isolate single carbohydrates from these complex sugars to make man-made sugar, the resulting product has little nutritional value to offer the body. In contrast, consuming refined sugar depletes and toxifies our bodies and generates fatty deposits.

The same principle applies to isolating a fat from a whole food to create oil. Coconut oil is fat that has been isolated from the meat of coconuts, Sesame oil is fat isolated from Sesame seeds and Avocado oil is fat isolated from the fruit. Just in the same way that isolated carbohydrate (sugar) results in an inferior nutritional product, isolating fat (oil) and consuming it in its concentrated form will result in large amounts of that fat being directly absorbed into the bloodstream, adversely affecting the blood viscosity and the blood chemistry. In contrast, eating fresh olives, avocado, or almonds is healthful to the body in moderation. These whole foods also contain fat of course; however it is present in its whole, complex form which is combined with all the essential nutrients designed by nature to accompany fat, such as fiber, proteins and carbohydrates. In contrast, refined oil is 100% pure fat, with just two tablespoons of Olive Oil packing in 240 calories.

Fat is an essential nutrient which should be included in a well-balanced diet. However, fats are best consumed in the whole, unaltered state in which nature has designed and presented them to us. Oils, the same as white sugar, are highly processed junk; a concentrated source of calories with no significant nutritional value to offer. Nutritional Biochemist and Scientist Dr T. Colin Campbell states that “In the past 30 or 40 years, processed foods have appeared, which includes oil. A whole plant your body knows what to do with; processed foods, it doesn’t.” Olive Oil has been shown to cause inflammation and constrict and injure the lining of our blood vessels. This is because Olive oil is 100% fat, with 14% of that fat being saturated. Dr. Robert Vogel of the University of Maryland conducted a study in 2009 where he took 10 patients and measured their arterial blood flow before & after each meal of olive oil & bread, canola oil & bread, and salmon. The olive oil constricted blood flow by an almighty 31% after the meal. Constricted blood flow is what damages the lining of the blood vessels, leading to atherosclerosis (disease of the arteries). Does this sound like the benefits of a “heart healthy” as most oil labels claim?

See below for some truly heart healthy alternatives to using refined oil in your diet:

  • Use water instead of oil to sauté your vegetables
  • Spread avocado on your bread and toast instead of butter
  • Make your own oil-free dressings by blending avocado, mango and lime juice.
  • Use apple sauce in place of oil in baking

It is possible, easy even, to incorporate a healthy amount of fat into your everyday life while minimizing or eliminating your use of oils. Have you made the switch yet?