Last week a met someone who asked me a few questions about diet, after seeing what I eat. The topic of olive oil came up.
I had to answer in less than a minute why the diet I promote (and try to follow as closely as possible) contains no added oil, not even the so-called “heart-healthy” olive oil.
Most people can’t fully accept that concept, because we’ve been told incorrectly over the last few decades that olive oil (and other vegetable oils) are great for health. In reality, the opposite is true!
Here’s a quick summary of the reasons why you should do your best to avoid all vegetable oils. I’ll focus on olive oil because that’s where the source of the confusion comes from, but most of these points apply to most other oils as well.
1) Oil is a refined product and the most concentrated source of calories available anywhere. One tablespoon of oil contains 120 calories of pure fat with almost no other nutrients. Refined sugar is only 50 calories per tablespoon.
The fat you eat is the fat you wear, and a few splashes of olive oil here and there can quickly add up to hundreds of extra calories that you don’t need. Worst of all, those calories are missing all the fiber and essential nutrients and are empty.
It’s been found in multiple studies that adding fat to food makes people over-consume calories without realizing it, because fat has a very low satiety factor compared to carbohydrates or proteins.
Remember: it takes 24 olives to make 1 TBS of olive oil. I don’t know about you but I’ve never once added 24 olives to a single serving of salad.
2) Oils are a concentrated source of saturated fat. Most people don’t realize that even olive oil contains almost 15% saturated fat. This fat consumed in excess contributes to a host of health problems, including arteriosclerosis and heart disease.
3) Excessive fat consumption lowers insulin sensitivity. The higher in fat your diet is, the least effective your insulin becomes. If you combine a high fat diet with a high sugar intake, you have a recipe for disaster that will lead to many health problems.
4) Vegetable oils contribute to inflammation. Omega 6 fats contribute to inflammation in the body, while omega 3 fats reduce it. But most vegetable oils have a ratio that dramatically favor omega 6 fats. We should seek to a dietary ratio of no more than 4 times the omega 6s vs. 3. Olive oil contains over ten times the omega 6 as omega 3, and many other oils are worst.
5) Olive oil doesn’t lower LDL cholesterol. It’s a myth to think that olive oil is “heart healthy.” Studies have only shown that it lowers LDL cholesterol when it REPLACES animal fats like butter. But to add olive oil (and other vegetable oils) to an otherwise healthy diet actually increases LDL levels.
6) Olive oil injures the inner lining of the arteries (called endothelium). A study conducted by Dr. Robert Vogel and published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology showed that a meal containing olive oil caused severe constrictions in arteries, contributing to heart disease. Blood flow was reduced by 31% in this study. It’s worth noting that canola oil or salmon didn’t cause this problem (however, all vegetable oils are unhealthy to some degree).
What this study found was that the protective components of the Mediterranean diet appear to be fruits and vegetables, and NOT the olive oil. Greek people only got away with eating olive oil because they consumed a lot of fruits and vegetables. They also replaced animal fats like butter with olive oil. But olive oil in itself isn’t healthy.
7) Oils release toxic compounds when heated. Many oils become carcinogenic when heated. And yes, every type of oil can withstand a different level of heart. But don’t believe for a second that nothing is happening to your oil when you start heating it. Udo Erasmus, one of the world’s most well-known experts on fats, always recommended to NEVER heat any fat. He said: “If health is what we want, water is the only oil appropriate for frying. We’re back to steaming, poaching, boiling, or pressure cooking our foods. Or, even better in most cases, eating them raw.”
What about essential fats?
It’s true, we need some fats for good health. But all whole foods contain them to a certain degree, and in the perfect omega 3/6 ratio. Additional fats should come from whole foods such as: nuts, seeds, avocados, etc. Those foods can be consumed in smaller quantities and people who want faster results should avoid them completely.
Should you believe what I say about Olive Oil and other vegetable oils? Here’s a partial list of doctors that agree with this no-oil approach:
– T. Colin Campbell
– Dr. John McDougall
– Dr. Douglas Graham
– Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn
– Dr. Neal Barnard
– Dr. Joel Fuhrman
– Dr. Michael Klaper
I could list even more, but if you want more information, you can start there.
Now, does that mean you can never have a splash of olive oil? If you’re very active and burn a lot of calories, a bit of olive oil won’t hurt you. But try giving it up and you’ll notice that your taste for oil will disappear. If you crave something fatty, have a whole food like a bit of nut butter, for example.