I’m no stranger to wacky diet claims, and honestly it really shouldn’t be a surprise that new and sometimes wackier ones continue to emerge. The latest trend I’m seeing more and more are the claims that we should go ‘oil free’ for weight loss and health. It’s popped up in online communities, and I’m seeing it more and more in my Facebook newsfeed. When I first saw it, I thought, surely not. But, sadly, it seems to be a trend.
Like many of these claims, they are getting taken to the extreme in the quest for health when really, they are often doing the complete opposite. And when I see these posts on popular pages and in recipes, it concerns me because people may begin to accept it as truth.
As you know there are numerous people online who shout health facts, but don’t back those up with research. And sometimes, these ‘facts’ are not only untrue but potentially harmful.
So what's the deal with oil free?
The argument (warning: Triggering)
The oil-free argument claims that an oil free (and vegan) diet will aid in weight loss (because you’re restricting calories), decreased risk of heart disease, and are so f’n bold to try to claim that it can lower your chances of getting cancer, having hormone issues, bowel problems etc. They also claim that oils contain no nutritional benefit, so why bother!?
Sure you may say, processed industrial oils aren’t great for ya in excess! Truth. But, they are not talking just the processed stuff. They are banishing olive oils, avocado oils, macadamia oils, flax oils, coconut oils… you get the picture!
So what's the real story?
So, firstly, let’s clarify that when I talk about oils now, I’m speaking about those that are cold pressed, natural oils mentioned above (we’ll leave the industrial ones out, for now). Now, let's look at the claims:
It will lead to weight gain: Yes, oils are higher in calories but since when is a calorie a calorie?! Oils will keep you satiated for longer, they slow down the absorption of carbohydrates from your meals and can help to keep your blood sugars more balanced. Fuller = less calories consumed overall (if you want to go there).
No nutritional value: Pfft! Even if they didn’t have vital nutrients (which they do) they would still help us to absorb FAT SOLUBLE vitamins such as A, D, E and K. There are heaps of nutritional benefits to natural oils – Vitamins, beneficial fatty acids, and antioxidants to name a few.
Oils cause disease: Seriously? Mediterranean diet anyone? The Mediterranean diet is one that is ‘saturated’ in olive oil. This has been said to be one of the healthiest diets on the planet. Even a quick Google search will show you that.
Recently Coconut oil was even named a poison but I'll let my friend Cliff Harvey take that one.
Show me a centenarian that doesn't consume health-promoting oils, show me indigenous groups that aren’t cooking using fats and oil, ask your great great grandmother if fat is bad.
They don’t call them essential fatty acids for nothing!
Eliminating oils from your diet is throwing the baby out with the bathwater, it’s not seeing the forest for the trees, it’s just not necessary. There is so much more I could say about this but hopefully the point is clear, cold pressed, natural oils are health promoting and delicious. Please don’t ditch them.
Oils aside, there is no need to eliminate anything from your diet. There is no one food in isolation that is health or disease promoting, it’s the dose that matters.
Enough of the restriction! Enough of the diets masked as ‘health promoting, enough of the food fear and fear mongering! What would your great-great grandmother have to say about that?
Thank you for reading my rant. I’m off to enjoy a beautiful fresh salad drizzled with copious amounts of olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon.