No oil? But doesn’t oil-free food taste absolutely boring? Not at all. Oil-free does not necessarily mean completely fat-free.
Most fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, seeds and nuts contain fat naturally. However, only some of them contain substantial amounts, enough to process them into oil. Examples for these plants are:
- Olives (olive oil)
- Avocado (avocado seed oil)
- Peanuts (peanut oil)
- Flaxseed (linseed oil)
- Hemp seeds (hemp oil)
- Sunflower seeds (sunflower oil)
- Rice (rice oil)
- Coconut (coconut oil)
All of these plants are very healthy, so why aren’t the oils made from them?
Isn’t it obvious?
Oils are a processed product, just like refined flours and sugar. By taking a plant and processing it into a different product, it goes through a factory. Oils are not whole foods, they’re processed foods and should therefore be avoided, just like other processed products.
In addition to that, oils are 100% pure fat. 100ml contain 900kcal which makes oil the most calorie-dense food on the planet. Even butter is slightly lower in calories. Oil contains no fibre and except for fatty acids there is little to no nutrition. From a nutrition perspective, oil is a very poor food for humans.
What does it do to our bodies?
You might have guessed it. It promotes weight-gain.
Because it offers a big amount of empty calories and little to no nutrients. Your body can store these extra calories for scarce times but it prefers sugar for energy. That’s why high-fat diets trigger sugar-cravings so extremely. And that’s also the reason why you crave sweets in the afternoon – if you eat oily, greasy foods (and believe me, most of the typical Western lunches/dinners are pretty damn oily) you stock up on empty slow-burning calories while providing your body with less nutrients than you need. You’re overfed and malnourished at the same time. What an irony!
But don’t you need fat?
I’m not saying that fat is straight-up bad for you. Actually, there are so-called ‘essential fatty acids’ which cannot be synthesized in your body and must therefore be obtained from food. Both Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids can be found in whole plant foods such as nuts, seeds, grains and even fruits, vegetables and leafy greens. Read more
What about fish (oil)?
- Certain fats are essential and good for us.
- These fats can be obtained from whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and grains.
- Oils are not whole foods.
- Oils provide no nutrients other than fatty acids.
- Oil is not a health food.
I hope you are now better able to understand why many people (including me) cook without oil and avoid oil in general. And if you’re worried about tasteless food, try replacing the oil you normally use for stir-fries, salads and other dishes with whole foods such as tahini, nut butters, sunflower seed butter, avocadoes, coconut milk, cacao (for sweet dishes) and flaxseed.
One last remark:
If you DO decide to eat oil (many nutritionists recommend oils, so in the end you’ll have to find out for yourself what’s best for your body), go for cold-pressed oils such as flaxseed, hemp or virgin coconut oil. Studies have shown that small amounts of coconut oil can help reduce waist size, but it doesn’t lead to significant weight loss (read more).
Coconut oil is the only oil I still use occassionally. I would not consider it a health food though. However, if you’re transitioning to a healthier diet, switching to using only coconut oil might be a healthier interim stage.
Check out this video if you want to see how I fry my pancakes without oil: