Fitness & Nutrition

Is Your Cooking Oil Killing You Silently?

  • Madhura Vayal
  • 9428

For the past decade I had being suffering from a number of lifestyle disorders, right from obesity to high blood pressure caused stroke. There was a need to make a change, but, to my favour not a major one.

Just a simple diet and lifestyle transition not only help me get cured, but also reversed all the symptoms. Now, what was this simple diet about?

This included shifting to a whole food plant based vegan diet devoid of animal products and highly processed foods like oil and sugar. We are a family of four, 2 adults and 2 toddlers and I haven’t even purchased cooking edible oil in the past three years!

The result has been no doctors visits, full attendance at work and school and more energy to do all of our favourite activities. And the feeling is not of deprivation but of gaining a whole new lease on life.

The consumption of vegetable oil which mainly consists palm and soya bean oil is a whopping 25 million tonnes in India only and it’s growing by almost 7-8 percent every year.

This increase in consumption is due to high demand in the food sector which includes bakeries, processed foods, food services and retail sales of direct oil. This only means that we are consuming oil in almost every form without realising what it is doing to us silently.

Here are some major reasons why you might want to reconsider picking up that gorgeous looking puff patty from your canteen or the attractive one plus one offer on the cooking oil.

1. Oil Is A Highly Processed & Refined Product

We’ve often heard that sugar in the refined estate is extremely bad for our health. It is processed to such a level that it is devoid of any nutrition and is laden with chemicals. Edible oil, also goes through this same process. From the chemicals which form a part of the final product to the high temperatures at which the refining and processing is executed, oil as an end result becomes toxic. Cold pressed oil even though, skip the high temperatures still undergo a massive procedure to become edible. On the other hand, A naturally pressed oil doesn’t last beyond a few months before turning rancid.

2. Oil Is “Empty Calories”

Oil is 100% fat without any other nutrients (unless it’s fortified with chemicals). A lot of the essential nutrients and characteristics of the whole food, like the fibre and minerals, from which the oil is extracted is lost in the process of making the oil. Nutrients always act in sync with each other when consumed as part of a whole food. The fibre consumed along with the fat acts as a cleaner to get rid of excess fat and toxins. Hence it’s a good idea to include the essential fat in the diet by incorporating nuts, seeds, coconut, peanuts, avocados in the meal seems like a healthier option compared to oils.

3. Oil Is Highly Addictive!

Has anyone ever picked one fried potato chip and been able to resist picking another after that? No, you can be rest assured that the bag of chips will get vanished in a jiffy. The reason being oil along with salt or sugar is highly addictive in nature. These substances act as trigger substances to the brain which means they keep you coming back for more until your body becomes addicted to a food, such as, junk food.This property of oil is exploited by the food industry and the result is more than half the population worldwide suffering from lifestyle disorders like obesity, diabetes, heart disease etc.

4. Oil Can Cause Inflammation!

Refined oils that we consume have cheap fats that are hydrogenated which ultimately converts into trans fats. The excessive amount of Omega-6 fatty acids in these products can further cause inflammation and oxidation in the body. This obviously increases the risk of heart diseases, by increasing chances of injury to the endothelial lining and deposition of cholesterol at the site of injury forming plaques and causing blockage. Hence, consuming pure unadulterated oil is a better idea.

5. Oil & Food Crowding!

Here are some numbers for better understanding. 400 calories worth of oil fills the stomach to 1/4th of its capacity, while 400 calories of animal products fills only half the stomach but when 400 calories of any plant based whole product along with the fibre is consumed there is no space left in the stomach. Hence it’s always a good idea to eat a bowl of whole peanuts rather than a tsp of peanut oil as it’s not only filling but provides wholesome nutrition. The fibre in the whole foods acts as a broom and helps in cleaning up the excess fat and other toxins that are consumed.

6. Oil Is A Pleasure Trap!

Most of us are aware that we are supposed to eat healthy foods that include fruits & vegetables and avoid unhealthy ‘junk’ foods like sugar, white flour, fried stuff etc. As per Dr Lisle all animals along with humans have a guidance system for survival called the motivational triad which consists of 3 parts - pleasure seeking, pain avoidance and energy conservation. Hence all our behaviours are centred around this motivational triad including our food habits. The calorie count of any food impacts what we want to eat. Remember that we want to maximize pleasure and conserve energy. So we are attracted towards foods that give us the most calories (and pleasure) for the least amount of effort and fried, oily, greasy food fits this perfectly.

7. Myths About Good Oils

Increasing number of doctors are suggesting to switch to “heart” friendly oils like olive, coconut or fish oil. These oils are equally saturated and thus can harm the endothelial lining of the arteries and causes inflammation, injuring them. In fact, As per Dr. Esselstyn, even fish oils can be avoided. Fish get their Omega 3 from plants so humans can directly consume 1-2 tablespoons of flaxseeds and green leafy vegetables to produce the right fatty acids.

So, the question that arises is should we avoid oil all together in our foods? How can we?

Here are some FAQs!

Q. From where do we get fat if we don’t take in direct oil?

A. A certain amount of fat is necessary in the diet. By not having oil in our food, doesn’t mean we are not getting the adequate share of fat. All food, even a banana contains fat. But this is the good kind of fat. A whole plant based diet will ensure your body is getting enough fat.

Q. Don’t kids need this oil for growth?

A. No. They don’t necessarily. What the kids need is a wholesome meal that contains grains, beans, green leafy vegetables and fruits. Higher fat containing food like nuts, seeds, tofu and avocado can be included too.

Q. How can one cook without any oil?

A. For the Indian kitchen, where from the tadkas to the masalas, oil is used generously, you’ll be delighted to know that oil free tadkas are very easy too. Mustard seeds have inherent oil essential for popping as well as onions can be fried in water or vegetable stock for the similar flavour.

Q. Don’t I need to consume fat for the proper functioning of my brain and nerves? 

A. As mentioned earlier most of the plant based foods have intrinsic good quality fats. Include small amount of nuts and seeds in the diet and there will be no disruptions in the nervous system.

Q. Oil is anyway used in moderation in the house, how can that be bad?

A. Moderation is a term that has been exploited quite a bit. What may be moderate for one person may not be moderate for the rest. Also, to move to a healthier lifestyle, one has to move from what is causing that unhealthiness. No oil is the way forward.

Q. Food won’t taste good anymore! Why are you ruining my life?

A. It’s a myth that oil free food is tasteless and bland. On the contrary you actually taste the actual ingredient when the food is oil free rather than only the fried taste of oil. Everything right from pakodas to malai koftas can have the same taste even without the oils.

Q. It becomes so difficult to eat out, how can I continue doing that?

A. Eating out is just a matter of being vocal and giving your preferences. Always ask the chef if he can make something without oil and pay a tip for that effort. It’s not impossible to get oil free food, only a little effort from your end is needed.

Q. What about the recent studies that say that olive oil is healthy? 

A. Do not believe every study out there. Always check the authenticity of the studies before diving in.


Madhura Vayal

Madhura is a certified nutritionist, from eCornell University, New York. Currently, A homemaker with two beautiful kids, she counsels people on a plant based lifestyle & believes that our health is our best investment!

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