Saturday, July 11, 2009

Processed oils are junk food

People ask me why I have eliminated all processed oils. Typically, someone will say something like, "I know oils are high in fat, but isn't olive oil good for you? Isn't olive oil a 'good oil'?

I have never given a very good answer to this question, except to say that oil is pure fat, and has little or no nutritive value. Some fats when found in natural foods and combined with other healthy nutrients are healthy, nuts, seeds and avocado are good examples. But, even these should be consumed carefully because they are very high in calories.

Today I was browsing through the Discussion Board on Dr. McDougall's website and found an excellent answer to the question, why eliminate processed oils from your diet? In response to the question, Jeff Novick, Nutritionist, says:

"Due to very effective marketing and advertising, we have become convinced that oil is not only a food, but a health food. This is crazy. To be a food, something must be able to support healthy life and be of some benefit.

Oil is a highly refined processed and extracted food "product". It has no protein or essential amino acids (which we need), it has no carbohydrates, or sugars (which we need), it has no fiber (which we need), it has no minerals (which we need) and has virtually no vitamins (which we need) except for a small amount of Vit E and some phytosterols.

But, on the other hand, it is pure fat and the most calorie dense food on the planet. While all oils have a mixture of mono, poly and saturated fat, most oils are very low in the essential fat omega 3 (which some of us may need more of), very high in the omega 6 (which most of us need to lower) and most oils also have high ratios of omega 6 to omega 3 (which most all of us need to lower).

So, basically you are getting lots of calories (oils has almost 2.5 x more calorie per TB than sugar). lots of omega 6s, some saturated fat (depending on the oil) and virtually no nutrients.

The definition of a junk food is a food that is high in calories (and/or fat, sugar, salt) and has little if any nutrient value at all.

IMHO (and by definition), Oil, is more of a junk food than sugar. And, I hope that in a few years, we will all come to understand it and see it, as such.

I conclude that oil will significantly increase the calorie density and significantly decrease the "overall" nutrient density of any diet it is added to, which are the exact opposite goals most people are working towards.

Diets with increased calorie density can lead to obesity and obesity does increase your risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and many others.

Some oils, depending on the percent saturated fat they contain may directly increase cholesterol levels.

Here is something to think about... right now the typical American diet is 10-12% saturated fat. Olive oil is around 14% saturated fat. The AHA is now recommending that Americans reduce the percentage of saturated fat in their diet to below 10%, if not below 7% (for those at risk, which is just about everyone is America). I think below 5% is optimal.

So, Olive oil = 14%
American Diet = 12%
AHA = 7-10%
Optimal = < 5%

How much of something 14% Saturated fat, can you add to something that is already 12% saturated fat to get the total saturated fat below 10%? let alone below 7%, let alone below 5%?

By, the way, guess how many oils have a saturated fat level below 10%? let alone below 7%, let alone below 5%?

We should treat oil for what it really is (junk food) and the same way we treat other foods in the same category.

Oil is junk food. Pure and simple. Treat it like the junk food it really is.

If you choose to include a small amount of junk food in your diet, that is up to you. I am sure most people, if they otherwise have an optimal diet, could get away with around 5% of their calories from junk food and not be harmed by it.

However, you would probably want to choose the junk food that is going to do the least harm and has the best overall picture But, I am not going to recommend one, or try to figure out which is the best junk food for you.

In Health
Jeff Novick, MS, RD

PS, OK, I will. The only oil, that comes close to the criteria I mentioned is canola oil. It is the lowest in saturated fat, one of the highest in omega 3s and the only one with a ratio of omega 6: omega 3 that is less than 4:1. Now, to be clear, I am not recommending you consume canola oil, but in comparison to all other oils, I think it has the best overall picture."

For the complete discussion follow this link.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

actually have u heard of fat soluble vitamins, you cannot get fat soluble vitamins unless u eat fats, so olive oil being a natural blend of mono and poly unsturated fats is healthy to a point it is high in calories though so you dont want to over do it but i need an even intake of poly mon and saturated fats in an healthy diets and when they say 10% saturated they mean from your total caloric intake.