Many of us are aware of the high saturated fat content in cooking oils like olive, coconut, avocado etc. But most of us aren’t aware of the impact a meal with oil has on the endothelial function of our arteries. In other words, what it does to the integrity of our arterial walls. It’s no new discovery that high fat foods cause our arteries to stiffen, eventually leading to vascular disease characterized by high blood pressure, erectile dysfunction, heart disease, etc. Researchers have found that every cooking oil tested, including olive, coconut and vegetable, have the same EXACT effect on our arteries. In fact, my fave MD, Dr. Michael Greger, explains that near paralysis of our arteries was found 3 hours after consuming olive oil. Why is this detrimental to the integrity of our blood vessels and health? Our arteries dilate (open up) and contract in response to biochemical stressors. During a response that would require a vital organ or muscle to NEED a large amount of oxygen rich blood fast, our endothelial cells release nitric oxide which makes our arteries dilate (open wide up) to get as much oxygenated blood to our vital organs and muscles as fast as possible. High fat meals, and cooking oils prevent this dilation from occurring by hardening the arteries so much that they can’t expand in response to stress, therefore dramatically decreasing circulation of oxygen rich blood to vital organs. After a prolonged period of time, this causes permanent damage to the artery, and eventually leads to tissue death from poor circulation.
If that not enough, oil is literally liquid fat. 1 tbsp of cold pressed olive oil is 119 calories! It has almost no nutrient value, and yes, that goes for cold-pressed as well. Even Extra Virgin Olive Oil which was found to retain a small fraction of the anti-inflammatory phytonutrient power in olives, is essentially negating itself and therefore adding nothing to your body but extra liquid fat that is less bad for arteries than other cooking oils. LESS BAD. Like some cigarettes are LESS BAD than other ones. There’s no amount of disease causing damage to your blood vessels that makes any sense. Especially because cooking without oil is actually really easy. Here are some common cooking methods we use oil for, and what you can do instead!
THIS is why we are an oil-free kitchen! I hope this makes it easier to start replacing oil in your diet. If you have any questions, please leave a comment, and I can follow up with more tips!
Your gut holds the key to optimal health. This is because the majority of the TRILLIONS of microbes and bacteria that reside in your body, live in your gut, with the highest concentration being in your colon. To give you an idea of how important these little guys are, we have 10 x more microbes in our body than we do human DNA cells. Effectively making us more microbial than we are human! Weird but fascinating, right?!
These microbes and bacteria ferment the food we consume, and create chemicals that either lead to health or disease. When our microbes and bacteria consume whole food fiber aka complex carbs, they produce short chain fatty acids. One important one, being Butyrate. They are like rocket fuel for every system in your body! Especially your immune system. When they consume animal products, especially in large amounts with low amounts of whole food fiber, then chemicals that create inflammation are produced, and the inflammation doesn’t subside for up to 36 hours. This imbalance in whole food fiber intake, is what has left America in a hyper-inflammatory state leading to diseases that have inflammation as a basis. To name a few, cancer, heart disease etc.
In one of my favorite books, “The Good Gut”, written by microbiologists Erica and Justin Sonnenburg, researchers look deep into the role that nutrition and bacteria play. One question that they have found much of the answer to, is the rapid increase in Americas killer disease, and the development of auto-immune disease. What they found was that 100 years ago, and even now in parts of the world that are less developed, there was low to no onset of cancer, heart disease and auto-immune disease. This is because 100 years ago, we were eating anywhere between 100-120 grams of whole food fiber per day. Through the past 100 years, processed foods, low carb diets and the “we need all the protein” mentality, have dropped the average American consumption of whole food fiber, down to 10-15 grams per day! We are starving the bacteria in our colon, because whole food fiber/complex carbohydrates are what they NEED for survival. Coincidentally, the lining of our gut is made up of a thick, sticky substance that is composed of complex carbohydrates. Well our poor starving bacteria resorts to eating this lining, which causes dry patches in the lining of our gut. The Sonnenburg’s mention in their research, that this leads to bacteria penetrating the lining of our gut, and in addition to causing inflammation in the lining of our gut (think IBS, chrons), it alerts our immune cells that there is a possible enemy invasion. When certain bacteria and cells aren’t where they’re supposed to be, they send in the troops to attack. To our immune cells, these actually harmless cells and bacteria that naturally reside in our body, are wearing ski masks and are unrecognizable to the immune cells. This is where auto-immune disease comes in. Auto-immune disease IS our own immune cells attacking our own harmless cells and bacteria. Mind. Blown. At least mine was!
So what’s the take away here? Strive to eat as much whole plant fiber as you can! 100 grams sounds like a lot, but there are ways to meet this quota without having to eat a few cans of beans per day, and an entire box of oatmeal. Bean burgers, flax muffins, oatmeal bakes, hummus, and my favorite, BLACK BEAN BROWNIESSSSS, are a great way to easily meet requirements without feeling like you’re going to explode fiber out of your eyes. Lastly, if you’re thinking to yourself, “why can’t I just take a fiber supplement?”. I mentioned earlier that the majority of our gut bacteria, that starves the most, is in our colon. Fiber supplements are digested by the acid in our stomach way before they can ever reach where it’s necessary. So think beans, whole grains, veggies, and other whole plant foods. Your body will thank you with large amounts of energy and happiness, maybe a little gas if you’re just starting out! But a couple days or weeks of gas vs. a lifetime of illness is a no brainer for me!
If you don’t know where to start and you don’t enjoy cooking, check out some of our prepared meals. If you do like cooking and want to know more, we have plenty of recipes to choose from, and there are many resources and oages that will help. Some of my favorite social media communities are Eat Plants Love, Forks Over Knives and Thug Kitchen!
Happy eating friends!
Serotonin and Plants
Most of us have heard of serotonin. It’ s the chemical that makes us happy. We have created many drugs and supplements to try to isolate, manipulate and control this elusive hormone, to ensure we get as much of it as we can to our brain to make us happy! Well, I have great news! The answer is in carbs!! YES. You read that right. CARBS.
In Michael Greger’s thoroughly cited book, How Not to Die, he discusses Serotonin and Depression. You see, Serotonin can’t cross the blood brain barrier. Meaning, you can consume all the dietary sources of serotonin in the world, and it won’t do a thing. However, a building block of serotonin called tryptophan, also an amino acid, can cross the blood brain barrier. In fact, many studies have shown that low levels of tryptophan cause irritability, anger and depression. Many have tried to test whether increasing protein (large amount of amino acids) in your diet can help increase levels of serotonin by delivering extra tryptophan to the brain. Greger explains that the reason this doesn’t work, is likely because other amino acids in protein rich foods, crowd out the tryptophan for brain access.
Carbohydrates have the opposite effect! It shunts all the non-tryptophan amino acids into the muscles, allowing tryptophan greater access to the brain. Greger also points out that after even just one carb rich, protein poor meal, depression, tension, anger, confusion, sadness, alertness and fatigue scores were improved. Now we know carbs help facilitate transport of tryptophan to the brain, but we also need to consume foods that have a high tryptophan to protein ratio. Seeds and cashews fit the bill. Greger also mentions a double blind placebo controlled study that demonstrates that consumption of butternut squash seeds for social anxiety caused a significant improvement in social anxiety just one hour after consumption! That’s a pretty big deal!
If you’ve been plant-based for a bit now or ever have been, after a few weeks I’m sure you noticed a significant improvement in your cognitive ability and mood. Well, now you know why! Isn’t science AMAZING! Thank you to Michael Greger for putting this all out in the open for us! If you haven’t read How Not to Die, highly recommend!
If you’re looking to incorporate more of these cashews and seeds and you don’t enjoy cooking, check our menu. Anything with flax, cashews or other seeds, will help with this effect. If you enjoy cooking, check out some of our recipes in the recipe section of our blog page. We have a bunch! Happy eating!