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Great Books

Food for Thought: Oils

Sunday Aug 17, 2014

2014-08-17 Oil photo


There’s no such thing as “heart healthy” oil. Here’s why:

First, all oils derive 100% of their calories from artery-clogging and inflammation-causing fat. It doesn’t matter if the oil comes from coconuts, olives, corn, or rapeseed (canola). Olive oil, for instance, is 13.5% saturated fat, while coconut oil is fully 86% saturated fat. They are all nutrient poor and calorie dense.

Second, oil causes immediate injury to the endothelium which lines your arteries and is extremely important and very delicate. This injury compromises the endothelial cells’ ability to produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a “vasodilator,” which means that it allows our arteries to remain open for the free flow of blood. So when we clog our arteries with fat, regardless of where it comes from, AND we impair their ability to remain open, guess what happens? It’s not too difficult to figure out. Even a little bit of oil (as in dipping a piece of bread in oil one time) causes temporary injury to the endothelium, from which it takes about 6 hours to recover.

I realize that coconut oil is being widely touted as the miracle oil that can lower LDL, raise HDL, cure diabetes, help people lose weight, cure Alzheimer’s, etc., and that the medium chain fatty acids supposedly do not have the same effect on the arteries. However, the research that I have done on this subject shows me that there is as yet no real scientific evidence to support these claims, and that in fact, the scientific studies that have been done have shown only that coconut oil raises bad cholesterol slightly less than butter. So I currently am very skeptical about any benefits that might be derived from coconut oil, and will remain so until properly designed controlled, double-blind and randomized studies emerge with evidence to the contrary. That being said, however, it may be that coconut oil is somewhat less unhealthy than any of the other oils. So if people do choose to use it, they should proceed with caution and use it only very sparingly.

Oils injure the brain, too. Here’s how (stay with me):

The brain needs a regular supply of DHA, which is an Omega 3 fatty acid that the body can manufacture, but it first needs the building blocks of ALA and EPA to do so. We get ALA, an essential (“short chain”) fatty acid from plants like vegetables and fruits, but especially walnuts, seeds, and flax. From that ALA, the body first converts it to EPA, and then to DHA, which the brain needs. That conversion process relies heavily on the availability of certain enzymes which the body also manufactures. Enzymes are the catalysts that make chemical reactions happen, in this case, the conversion of ALA into EPA, and EPA into DHA. At the risk of getting too “science-y,” they do that by adding on extra carbon atoms to make them a “long chain” Omega 3 fatty acid. So far, so good, right?

But here’s where we mess things up. There are other carbon-hungry fatty acids floating around in the blood stream that compete mightily for those same enzymes. They are called Omega 6 fatty acids. We need them, too, but we only need about 4-5 Omega 6s for every one Omega 3. How much do you think the average person on the Standard American Diet has? About 20-50 Omega 6s for every one Omega 3! If you do the math you’ll quickly realize that that’s 5-10 times more Omega 6s than we should have. And guess where the majority of those extra Omega 6s come from? OILS!

Now you might ask, ‘What do all those Omega 6s from oils do?’ Simply put, they hijack the enzymes from the Omega 3s that should be manufacturing the DHA for the brain, and as a result, your brain begins to starve for the DHA it needs to function properly.

So what can you do to stop damaging your heart and arteries, and quit overloading your body with a bunch of rogue Omega 6s?

  1. First, stop slathering oil all over everything!
  2. Eat whole, healthy sources of plant-derived fat such as avocados.
  3. Use parchment paper to line baking pans instead of greasing them.
  4. Replace oils in recipes with easy-to-implement alternatives such as flaxseed.

If you would like to know more about how to eliminate unhealthy oils from your diet, consider scheduling a 2-hour Cooking Class with me to learn how to easily:

  • Create oil-free salad dressings.
  • Roast vegetables without oil.
  • Make oil-free dips and sauces.
  • Incorporate more Omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Find the best oil-free foods at the grocery store.

You can share the cost with friends and we’ll have a raffle for a cookbook and either a Kitchen Cleanse or a Shopping Safari!

Bon appetite!



Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease – The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr. MD.

Power Foods for the Brain by Neal D. Barnard, MD.

Effects of dietary coconut oil, butter and safflower oil on plasma lipids, lipoproteins and lathosterol levels.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. December 2011 Media Alert. New studies illustrate complex connection between saturated fat and health.

Does Coconut Oil Clog Arteries?

Does Coconut Oil Cure Alzheimer’s?

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