Can oils be part of a healthy lifestyle?

It is important to understand that oils are not whole foods. Nutrients and fiber are removed when pressing plant foods into oil. Eating olives is healthier than consuming olive oil.  Eating nuts is healthier than consuming nut oil. Therefore, it is healthier to swap whole plant based fats such as seeds, nuts, and avocados for oil.  Eating the whole plant based fats allows you to get a lot more fiber, phytonutrients and plant sterols. These are all removed during processing. Oils should be thought of as condiments, flavoring, and a way to cook food. Also remember that oils are 100% fat.  All oils contain about 120 calories per tablespoon.  The more oil you eat, the more weight you are likely to gain.  The goal is choose your oils carefully and to use sparingly. The best oils are the monounsaturated oils and omega 3 oils. Olive oil contains monounsaturated fat (Omega 9 fat).  Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is a mainstay of the Mediterranean diet.  It contains antioxidants and flavonoids that help prevent LDL from oxidizing. (Oxidized LDL is the dangerous type that damages the blood vessel wall.) It cannot be heated to high temperatures, so be careful to cook on low heat. The best olive oil is cold pressed and unrefined. Avoid oils that have been processed with chemicals, exposed to high heat, or deodorized (such as canola oil). The best oils are expeller pressed.  Buy the best quality oils possible. Macadamia nut oil is also a monounsaturated oil and can also be used for low heat cooking. It has a higher smoke point than olive oil and can be used up to temperatures around 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Flax oil is an omega 3 oil. It is a good choice for adding flavoring to food. Walnut oil and hemp oil both have favorable omega 3 to omega 6 ratios and can be used for flavoring foods. Coconut oil is a plant-based saturated fat. Plant based saturated fats can be used in moderation. (It is not the same as animal based saturated fat. Unprocessed and unrefined coconut foods have not been found to be harmful.) It can be used for high temperature cooking without the risk of oxidizing. The oils to avoid are the omega 6 oils. These oils lead to elevated inflammation levels in your body. These oils include soybean, corn, safflower, and sunflower oils. Avoid all processed foods with these oils. (See previous articles.) Furthermore, avoid cooking with these oils, which also leads to increased inflammation. Most fried foods are fried in omega 6 oils! So remember, healthy oils can be used in moderation as part of a healthy lifestyle. More importantly, remember that eating the whole plant based fat is a much healthier alternative.


Author: drjeffgreenberg

Dr Greenberg is a clinical cardiologist who specializes in preventive cardiology, nutrition, exercise, and longevity. He favors using natural methods to improving one's health.

2 thoughts on “Can oils be part of a healthy lifestyle?”

  1. Hey Dr. G …

    Thanks for the reminder. I forgot how many calories there are in oils and I’ll be a lot more aware of how much I’m using in the future.

    Good stuff.


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