Cooking and preparing foods with cooking oil is something billions of people all across the world do every day. The question about this practice is how indigenous is it to man? How long have we been bathing our food in oil? When did we begin to hate the natural taste of our foods so much that we’d prefer how it tastes drenched in oil? If you dig a little, it’s obvious our high use of vegetable oils is a pretty new phenomenon.
The rise in fatty oil use has increased with man’s increased consumption of animal protein over the last 100 years. Most oils are over 85% fat and it’s undeniable that they make normally ordinary foods taste much more appetizing because humans like the taste of fats. We’ve gotten to a point where we crave fat, and oils supply us with plenty of fat to satisfy that craving. Conditioning yourself to enjoy your food without the added oil would be as simple as slightly steaming your broccoli, baking your potato, or just boiling your rice without the margarine or oil. Less is more and it’s a learning experience to actually enjoy the true taste of our food and not the fat from the oils we prepare the food in.
Here are a few reasons you may want to reduce your oil consumption:
- Oils are heavily processed. You don’t just squeeze seeds and get oil out of them. If it were that easy, we’d do it ourselves. The same goes for almonds, sunflowers, safflower, and soybeans: extracting oils for commercial sale is an extremely delicate process and that process compromises the structural integrity of the oil. That process also usually leaves the oil with little to no nutritional value left of what the whole fruit, bean, or nut contains in its natural state. You have to be terribly careful because there are many chemical solvents that go into the refining process for most oils, so choose unrefined, cold pressed oils when you must use them. You will still need to be careful even with those labeled as superior oil since integrity is hard to come by with many manufacturers.
- Oils go rancid. What happens to a box of crackers when you leave the box open for a day? They go stale, but when it comes to oil it goes rancid. Just like an apple will get brown if you don’t eat it fast enough, oils will get rancid over time due to air exposure. Rancidity reduces its potency and while you may not be able to taste the difference like you would with the crackers, the process is certainly happening.
- Oils are destroyed by light. The oil of any fruit, nut, or seed is generally hidden within the dark space of the fruit, nut, or seed and the extraction process brings them out. In the same manner that air degrades the quality of an oil, so does light. If you’re going to continue buying oils purchase the ones in darker glass bottles that block some of the light rays. You should also store them in the dark.
- Oils are already in the food. Make no mistakes about it, you can certainly eat an avocado, coconut, olive, soybean and whatever other nut or seed and the oil will be in the food. You generally don’t need the extracted oil whatsoever. These oils are actually more beneficial in their original state. Isn’t everything more beneficial in its original state?
- Oils are destroyed by heat. I know oils make food taste better, but I also know that oils are destroyed by heat and become carcinogenic thereafter. Oils are very sensitive and not every oil should be heated. You should definitely pay attention to the smoke point of the oils you use. You don’t want them smoking and emitting toxic fumes. Yet still the choice is yours to make. I use coconut oil on occasion which can stand up to higher heats.
- Oils aren’t natural. Extracted oils that is. If they were natural then there’d be a canola oil tree instead of a rapeseed plant. When you consider whole foods, it means consuming foods in their natural and whole state. Oils aren’t whole foods.
- Oils are flammable. Ever heard of grease fires? Well a few years back I had to put out a raging fire that I didn’t even start. I ended up with 3rd degree burns on my hand and I still sport some of the scars from the burn.
- Oils introduce free radicals to the body. It’s hard to avoid damaged oils because you can’t buy a perfect oil. They’re already compromised by the elements before you’ve purchased it. You then heat it and introduce it to your digestive system, further destroying it. That’s a lot going on and damaged oils will do some damage in your body, too.
- Oils are messy. You know it’s true. You pour the oil and no matter how hard you try to keep it clean it runs down the side of the bottle and makes a mess in the cupboard where you store it. I hate grabbing an oily bottle.
- Oils are the most fattening foods on the planet. Want to lose weight? Cut back your oil intake and that would definitely help. Most oils are pure fat. Coconut oil is 92% fat. Oil is the fat of whatever fruit, nut, or seed it’s extracted from and it’s highly concentrated, without all the other nutrients naturally found in the whole foods it came from. There are good fats and bad fats, but fat is fat and calories are calories if you’re counting.
Cooking without oil is not for the faint of heart. You’ll get to taste the actual flavors of the food and who knows, you might like it! It’s certainly not as addictive as the fatty taste you get from the oils, but it’s the real thing: unadulterated. We actually need to be using less oil when consuming whole foods and raw/living foods in order to learn to appreciate the true taste of our food. Entire food industries are built around the use of oils in food and frankly, we’re addicted to the taste of it. Cutting back the oils in your diet may not be the easiest thing to do initially, but depending on your goals it might be worthwhile.