Whether you’re baking, grilling, sauteing, frying or braising, most cooking techniques require you to use cooking oils for flavor, taste and nutritional value.
In every grocery store or market, cooking oils are ubiquitous. There are aisles and shelves filled with unending bottles, covered in multicolored labels and packaging, boasting of their many health and nutritional benefits. It’s hard to walk past and not pick up a bottle packed with vitamins and Omega 3. It’s also hard to imagine cooking without them because most recipes include a type of oil on their list of ingredients. A baked chicken recipe could call for ½ tablespoon of virgin oil, or a recipe for sweet potato fries might call for a tablespoon of flax seed oil to help with the seasoning and frying process.
Cooking with oil has been a natural part of people’s kitchen experience for decades.
In recent years, a slew of health blogs and fitness-focused websites have post endless articles and reports, informing us on how harmful cooking oils can be for our faces and bodies. These articles also come with suggestions for healthier options that we can use in place of oils. We’ve been told to avoid oils that are refined, processed and rich in Omega-6 Fatty acids. The list of suggested harmful oils include, but are not limited to: Soybean oil, Corn oil, Sunflower oil, Grape seed oil and Rice Bran oil. The cooking oils recommended by advocates of healthy eating include: Olive oil, which is known for its heart health benefits; Palm oil, which is rich in Vitamin E; Avocado oil, which is a rich source of Oleic Acid.
But even with the growing lists of healthier options, the fact still remains that we have consumed a copious amount of oil and we need to rid them from our kitchens and diets. Cooking without oil might come across as a mind-boggling idea, especially to those who have never considered it, but it’s an idea that comes with a myriad of advantages. It is possible to make your meals without oils by choosing to use water, vegetable broth or kitchen appliances like air fryers.
If we look at the benefits of cooking without oil from a nutritional point of view, we will discover that we can do without it in our recipes. Most oils are high in sodium, fat and concentrated calories – three major things we do not need in our bodies. We can get all the wholesome nutrients we need, without the empty calories, from a natural, plant-based diet. A major advantage of cooking without oil is the amount of unnecessary added fats you will be eliminating from your meals. If you’re working on losing weight or maintaining a healthier heart, you do not need the fat from oils clogging up your arteries and slowing down your weight loss process. Cooking oils are packed with saturated fats which raise cholesterol levels in your blood. According to research, the average man should not consume more than 30 g of saturated fat a day, while the average woman should have less than 20 g. When you input a recipe, which requires oil, into any calorie counting app or website, you will find out how much fat you will consume in one serving. After some research, it was discovered that a tablespoon of coconut oil contains 12 g (60%) saturated fat and a tablespoon of palm oil contains 6.7 g (34%) saturated fat. Now imagine using a recipe that calls for 2 tablespoons of coconut oil?
Eliminating oil from you cooking will also guarantee fresher, better tasting food. When you saute your vegetables without oil, you can expect them to retain their natural freshness, nutrients and crispiness. Your food will lose the greasy, heavy taste and flavor that comes with using oil in your cooking. Vegetables are high in water, and in order to release that water while you cook, you will need to refrain from soaking them in oil.
When you choose to cook without oil, you are choosing to significantly lower the amount of calories in your food. According to caloriecount.com, a tablespoon of Vegetable Oil contains 124 calories (14g Total Fat). Compare that tablespoon of oil (124 calories) to a cup of organic vegetable broth (15 calories) or a glass of water (0 calories) and you can easily conclude that your body is better off without oil.
Some oil enthusiasts might argue that you do not need to remove oils from your diet completely. They might claim that oils can be beneficial when used in moderation. Sunflower oil, for example, has Omega-6 and Vitamin E, which helps with water retention in the body. Mustard seed oil is ideal for frying and acts as an aid for digestion and circulation. Olive oil naturally complements salads and starters. Even with these benefits, which look good on paper, the fact still remains that oils lack vital nutrients. They promote weight gain, high cholesterol, and put you at risk for heart disease. They also don’t contain a substantial amount of either water or fiber- two crucial components for any healthy diet.
There are kitchen appliances designed to help with healthy, oil-free cooking techniques. Multi-cookers are fantastic for sauteing, slow cooking, steaming and simmering a variety of dishes. Air fryers allow you to cook with little or no oil and are great for people who wish to embark on a healthier, low fat diet. The hot air in air fryers cooks food at different angles, eliminating the need for oil, leaving you with well-cooked, moist and nutritious meals. Any excess fat produced from meat or chicken is stored in a tray below the air fryer’s cooking basket.
You can enjoy clearer and brighter skin when you remove oil from your cooking and diet. The excess salt and fat you consume, from using oil in your cooking, is lethal for people with oily and acne-prone skin. Eradicating the primary source of clogged pores and painful pimples will always be considered as an advantage.
While removing oil from your diet comes with its fair share of benefits, it also comes with a few inconveniences, especially for novice cooks and people who have been used to an oil based diet for years.
Some oils, like Canola oil, have high smoke points which make them essential for frying and grilling a number of food items at the same time. Grilling chicken wings will be easier and quicker if you use oil instead of water, broth or another plant-based source of fat. When it comes to cooking or frying certain foods, it’s more convenient to use oil even though that is the least healthy option.
An oil free diet could also mean losing out on flavor and taste. While you can opt to season your meals with fresh herbs and powders, some oils come with their own unique taste and this adds a certain piquancy to any dish. Mustard oil, for example, has a certain tang that adds life and flavor to spicy meals.
Cooking oils come with their own health benefits. Mustard oil has antibacterial components that help protect your skin. Olive oil is rich in Monounsaturated fatty acids which fights inflammation; it’s also helps with the absorption of calcium in your body. Groundnut oil is a fantastic source of Vitamin E which helps with protection against acne and scarring. Canola oil is not only great for outdoor grilling and baking, but it is also packed with Omega 3,6 and 9 fatty acids- these fatty acids are consequential to maintaining good cholesterol levels. Additionally, Canola is made up of 7% saturated fat which is a healthy percentage for a cooking oil. Sunflower oil comes with a delicate texture that promises not to overwhelm the ingredients in your meal.
Still, the advantages of cooking without oil significantly outweigh its inconveniences. When you opt for an oil-free diet, cooked food will taste fresher and your vegetables will retain their water level. You will no longer have to endure the slipperiness and heaviness that comes with using oil to fry, bake and saute your food. Cleaning your pots and pans will no longer be a tasking chore- you won’t have to deal with scrubbing and scouring in attempt to rid your cooking utensils of that greasy, sticky oil residue.
Furthermore, when you cook without oil, you significantly reduce the intake of excess fat, salt and sodium into your body. The bloated feeling that comes with over-consuming oil in your diet is automatically eliminated. Oil is a processed food that is made up of 100% processed fat which is unhealthy for your body. Some oils, like Avocado and Flax seed, claim to have healthy fats, but you would have to consume them in their whole food form to get their full benefits. Eliminating oil assures a healthier heart with lowered cholesterol levels. You can focus on preparing low-fat, plant based meals which are lighter, tastier and crispier because you will end up using natural and fresh herbs to season and cook your meals.
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