There is a shortage of conflicting views especially when it comes to dietary oils. On one hand, we have the prestigious Harvard Health advising its readers to make use of oils that are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) rather than making the use of the saturated kind, and to top that off there are numerous claims that speak of the benefits of using olive oil in your dishes; benefits that include a reduction in heart ailments and stroke. For those who are on the path to plant-based eating and trudging along with their vegan diet plans, the thought of eliminating oils from the foods that you eat seems a bit far-fetched. Is there a need for extreme steps as eliminating oils?
Well for starters, let us begin by figuring out what exactly does oils offer in terms of the nutritional value, shall we?
What Does Oil Bring To The Table?
If you were to compare oil to other foodstuffs, you would notice that oils have a higher caloric density. Caloric density is the quantum of calories that is present in a given amount of food, say a pound.
For vegetables, that figure comes to 100 calories for every pound. Fruits have a caloric value of around 300 calories, with nuts at a significantly higher value of 2500-3000 calories per pound. Oils knock it out of the park, with an astounding 4000-5000 calories per pound.
So, every teaspoon of oil that you drizzle on your salads and dishes contains up to 100-150 calories, all of which are from fat.
Apart from the omega-3s and 6s fatty acids, there is very little nutritional value that oils provide; there are trace amounts of Vitamin E and K which isn’t worth the mention. The nutritional value is different for different oils: Coconut oil is high in saturated fats, with around 90% of the total fat content.
Plus, oils often deteriorate in quality when exposed to heat during processing, packaging, storage, transportation, and cooking. The oil that comes out from the source may not be the one that you are applying to your frying fan.
What Does Oil Do Once It Is In The Body?
The body has a funny interpretation of high-fat foods, such as oils. These bring about a reaction in the brain and the body, all of which are credited to the addictive properties of high-fat foods. The initial sense of pleasure when eating fatty and oily foods is often lost after an hour or so. The high-fat meal begins to bring about changes in the body:
The digestion slows to a grind, as enzymes and stomach acids tirelessly begin to breakdown the excess fats.
There is a slowdown in the endothelium function (the function of vascular relaxation and contraction from endothelial cells, which are responsible for immune function, platelet adhesion, and controlling of blood clots). Blood flow reduces and you start to feel lethargic and down. You may have noticed how those who eat unhealthy and fatty foods are more prone to ailments and sickness – this is due to the reduced immune function and response.
The excess fats are converted to cholesterol that lines the small intestines and does heavy damage to the heart, down the line. Not to mention the fats that are stored as a source of future fuel; your weight rises and your body functions struggle as a result.
Where Should You Get Your Healthy Fats From?
Drop the oil and instead find other sources that will help to absorb fat-soluble nutrients and ensure cellular health. There is no shortage of healthy alternatives that you can obtain your essential fatty acids from:
- Nuts, seeds, and their butter (almond, cashew, peanut)
- Fermented soy products
- Beans such as pinto beans and chickpeas
All of the above-mentioned foods are rich in essential fatty acids and you will be able to meet your daily quota without any issue.
How To Cook Without Oil?
So if you throw out the oil, then how do you cook your food? Surprisingly it is easy to adapt your recipes and the cooking methods to compliment an oil-free lifestyle. Here are some of how you can avoid using oils without losing the taste and flavor:
- Make use of the steamer. Be sure to steam your veggies before you season them.
- Rather than using oil, you can make use of vegetable broth or naturally flavored vinegar to sauté.
- For stir-frying, heat the pan to high temperatures.
- Get yourself an air fryer.
- Roast veggies for a longer time at lower temperatures.
- You can spray low-sodium vegetable broth onto your veggies to enhance flavor during roasting.
- Make use of silicon mats and pans for roasting and baking.
- In baking, you can replace the oils and instead make use of nut butter, apple sauce, and plant-based yogurt.
Your vegan meal will be just as delicious and healthy without the oil. Try it out!