In our highly processed society, we process not just our lives with stress and difficult jobs, but we also add to this toll with our food choices. Oils, for instance, are in everything. The chances are that if you eat processed foods, you are loading your body with oils. But is that a problem?
It helps to first understand that oils are nothing but processed foods. We took a whole food, say olives, stripped it of all its fat-binding fiber, and added it directly to our body fat stores within minutes. One tablespoon of olive oil (or any oil) is a whopping 120 empty calories.
Whole foods such as walnuts, pecans and seeds contain beneficial compounds like flavonoids, fibers, omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, lignans, bioflavonoids, minerals and other antioxidants which are stripped and destroyed in the processing of oils. Plant sterols naturally lower cholesterol and help prevent cancer. However, oils raise LDL (bad) cholesterol and are linked to heart disease and even breast cancer. In fact, olive oil consumption can reduce blood flow in your body by up to 31%! Excessive consumption of oil can generally lead to not only excess weight but also diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and various forms of cancer.
According to Dr. Neal Barnard: “Avoid partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. These oils do exactly the opposite of what you would like: They raise LDL cholesterol and reduce HDL. Be sure to read the fine print on labels, especially on pastries and snack foods.” Better yet, stay away from processed foods in the first place. Nothing good comes from them. Instead, eat unprocessed whole foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains.
When you eat fat from whole foods like walnuts, the fat is bound by the plant fibers and only a small portion remains in your body. It in fact helps bind fat from other sources in the digestive track and the bad fat gets flushed in the stool. Even though nuts and seeds are high in calories, their consumption suppress appetite and help people get rid of diabetes and lose weight. Oils have the exact opposite effect. Nature doesn’t make mistakes when it “packages” its food, humans do.
The reason why some people are healthier in some parts of the world like the Mediterranean is not because they consume oils but because they eat a lot more plant foods than most people in the United States.
However, this does not mean eating a full bag of walnuts each day, particularly if you are overweight. Keep it to an ounce a day if you are very overweight. If you are thin and active, you can get by with 2 to 4 ounces a day. And that is enough to give you all the nutritional benefits including helping the absorption of phytochemicals from other foods.
It is easy to learn to cook without using oils. I learned to use water instead of oils and I found that my food is a lot less greasy and more delicious and I avoided at least 120 calories of artery clogging grease. If you are using oils in some recipes, keep them to the minimum or if possible, eliminate them completely. Avoid processed foods like salad dressings and packaged foods like crackers, cookies, etc where most of the oils are hidden. Eat a whole foods (that is unprocessed) diet and make salad dressings without oils.
Eat your nuts and seeds raw. Roasted nuts and seeds form carcinogenic acrylamides and contain less protein, amino acids, calcium, iron, selenium and other minerals. It is easy to add them to your salads or other greens and it is delicious and filling.
As Vegans, let’s not neglect our health. Being a healthy vegan is also a way we can help animals by showing how good our food is and how healthy it makes us.
Here’s a simple oil-free dressing I love to use:
– 1 tablespoon chia seeds
– 1/3 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
– Italian herbs to taste
– Pinch Pepper
– Dijon mustard to taste
– 1 teaspoon of Agave nectar or maple syrup (or to taste) to lower the bitterness (optional).
Dr. Joel Furhman: “Super Immunity, The Essential Nutrition Guide for Boosting Your Body’s Defenses to Live Longer, Stronger, and Disease Free”
Neal D. Barnard M.D.: Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes: The Scientifically Proven System for Reversing Diabetes without Drugs
Dr. Pam Popper: Both Oils and Wealth Increase your Risk of Obesity and Disease video at http://youtu.be/e6v9HitLvXA
Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn: No Oil! Not Even Olive Oil video at http://youtu.be/b_o4YBQPKtQ
Jeff Novicks R.D.: Olive Oil is NOT Health Food but Sick Food video at http://youtu.be/GfBKauKVi4M
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