To begin with, oil has tons of calories and fat with none of the fiber, minerals, and vitamins that whole foods like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olives have when eaten in their natural states. One chef, Lindsay Nixon actually noticed that one tablespoon of olive oil or coconut oil has the same amount of fat as a snickers bar (14%)! Furthermore, Miss Nixon says, a snickers bar is probably healthier, because it provides more nutrients like protein and carbs than olive oil. (Don’t take this as advice to eat a snickers bar. Its just as example of how olive oil and other oils are hyped up as healthy fats when they really aren’t.)
To add onto that, many people have heard in mass media that processed foods are bad for us and that is correct. However, what the media fails to inform you when preaching that olive and coconut oil are healthy for you is that all plant oils are processed foods! Kate Murry, in her article, “Why Olive Oil Is Not As Healthy As You Think” says that, “Vegetable oils, including sunflower, safflower, and yes, olive oil, are typically refined under heat and pressure. This process of partial hydrogenation is what changes the molecular structure of the oil, damages the omega-3 fats, and produces eruct acid and trans-fats during this refining process.” Amazing! So all those healthy omega 3 and omega 6 fats that we think we are getting when we use oil is probably damaged before we even begin to cook or bake with it.
The Pritikin Longevity Center’s article, “The Truth About Olive Oil,” also corrects the myth that extra virgin olive oil is good for you. The Longeviy Center says that the media hypes up that extra virgin olive oil is especially heart healthy, because it is rich in polyphenols; however, the truth is that all plant foods are rich in polyphenols and are less calorie dense. The Pritikin Longevity Center uses the example that 11 calories of lettuce has the same amount of polyphenols as 1tbsp of olive oil (30mg). Why waste all those empty calories when you could get even more polyphenols for your heart only eating a small amount of delicious whole foods like a salad everyday!?
So what can you substitute for oils in your cooking and baking? An article on fitday.com recommends replacing oil in your baking with unsweetened applesauce, banana puree, mango puree, or pumpkin puree. For cooking, Bo Rinaldi, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Low-Fat Vegan Cooking, suggests using the equivalent amount of vegetable stock that the recipe calls for in oil.
In conclusion, no oil is a healthy fat and in general all fat should be enjoyed sparingly according to Health.gov and the American Heart Association. If you are looking to get healthy fats in your diet then eat whole foods like avocados, nuts, olives and seeds.