Practical Issues > Health - Index > Vegan Index
Which Oil is Healthiest?

"Visionary people face the same problems everyone else faces; but rather than get paralyzed by their problems, visionaries immediately commit themselves to finding a solution." - Bill Hybels

Which oil is healthiest, olive, soy, or canola? Which oil is healthiest, safflower, sunflower, or corn? Which oil is healthiest, peanut, walnut, or grape? Which oil is healthiest, flaxseed, sesame, or coconut?

Let me ask the same question another way:

Given the choice, which form of execution is best?

Death by Hanging? Death by firing squad? Death by the electric chair? Death by lethal injection? Death by oil?

I'll take the oil, please. It's slower than the other options, but it is also absolute. Too much oil of any kind is a slow-torture artery clogger.

Do we need fat in our diets? The simple answer is yes, and fruits and vegetables and seeds and grains all contain small amounts of oil. A varied plant-based diet satisfies an individual's daily oil needs.

The United States Department of Agriculture extracted oil from human cadavers and determined that 50% of our calories should come from carbohydrates, 20% from protein, and 30% from fat. I have no idea as to how they determined their completely arbitrary numbers, but the cadaver method makes about as much sense as USDA's continued insistence that school children need to drink daily pints of milk.

One gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories. One gram of protein contains 4 calories. One gram of fat contains 9 calories. Using USDA's numbers, in order to maintain his or her weight (multiply by 1.4), an average 150 pound man or woman needs 2,100 calories per day (1050 calories of carbs, 420 calories of protein, and 630 calories of fat). That translates to: 263 grams of carbs, 105 grams of protein, and 70 fat grams.

CONTROVERSY: The World Health Organization recommends that that same average individual requires between 28-35 grams per day of protein, so you see how controversial this issue can be.

If you want bad advice from knuckleheads, go to the Internet and search YouTube. Here is one from a self-described "expert" which had me screaming after the first 45 seconds:

Everybody seems to have a different opinion. The most intelligent nutritional advice comes from Dr. Douglas Graham. Dr. Graham recommends an 80-10-10 diet. That means the 150 pound person would eat 52 grams of protein, 420 grams of carbs, and 23 grams of fat.

That is more in line with my thinking and is my current diet. I believe that the greatest doctors such as Neal Barnard, T. Colin Campbell, Caldwell Esselstyn, Joel Fuhrman, Doug Graham, Michael Greger, John McDougall, and Dean Ornish, would also be more in agreement with the 80-10-10 diet than USDA's 50-20-30. USDA's primary mission is to promote the consumption of dead cows and milk and dairy products. That explains the rationale for their unhealthy advice. does one obtain 23 grams of fat or oil day?

Apples or other fruit? Sorry. That proverbial apple each day is 86 percent water. Add up the protein, fat, and carbs in one small apple (100 grams) and you're eating less than one gram of all of the above combined.

One notoriously fat-filled (200-gram) Haas avocado (I've known vegans who consume 5-10 avocados each day in the belief that avocados are healthy) contains 30 grams of fat. does one obtain the necessary 23 grams of fat?

Consider: One teaspoon of any of the above oils, be it olive, corn, or canola, contains approximately 14 grams of fat.

A 100-gram portion (3.5 ounces) of raw almonds contains nearly 50 grams of fat, while dry roasted almonds contain 52 grams of fat. A 100-gram portion of green olives contains 15 grams of fat. The black olives contain 7 grams.

A 1-pint portion of vanilla ice cream contains 48 grams of fat.

I've seen dieters go heavy on the green salads from salad bars, selecting dozens of the most delicious veggies and then the negate all of the good by pouring 1/2 cup or more of salad dressing. Salad dressing is their downfall. Here's where lemon juice can be your savior, or oil-free hummus, or fresh herbs. Just go easy on the oil. Two teaspoons of oil satisfy one's daily oil requirement. One-half avocado and one teaspoon of oil will supply all of your daily fat needs.

So...which oil do I recommend, the soy or olive or canola or safflower? My suggestion is to buy a bottle of the least processed cold pressed super-duper extra virgin (sounds like my high school years) olive oil that should cost between $20 and $30 per liter. These oils are so magnificent, that even their bouquets will add fat to your thighs. They are available in fine gourmet shops or online. Then, each time you have the urge to lubricate your internal engine with oil as your food, use no more than a teaspoon, and even that will be an extravagance.

My recipe for salad with an aromatic hint of olive oil flavor:

1) Make one salad. 2) Take one tablespoon of olive and gargle with it. 3) Discard olive oil. 4) Breathe on salad...

The least logical aspect of twenty-first century medicine is that when an individual suffers a life-threatening event, his physician usually has the knowledge to place a patient on a cleansing and life extending diet, one that no longer compromises the human body by filling it with illogical fuels. The cure, doctors admit by their response to near death experiences, is a simple as making dietary changes.

Why must one examine dietary changes after near-death episodes? Would it not make sense to prevent death and illness by eating healthy foods right from the start?

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn's Reversing and Curing Heart Disease book is for the sick and heart-compromised. If we all had the vision to see, we would all be included in that category, even our children. Esselstyn's book spells out the simple dos and don'ts. Dr. Esselstyn defines the cause and in doing so, presents the cure.

While practicing medicine at America's number one cardiovascular hospital, the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Esselstyn did everything in his power to make a complete nuisance of himself. Imagine a hospital treating more than 2 million patients each year? Talk about a cash cow. Add an Esselstyn or two, and remove hundreds of thousands of tests, procedures, and surgeries. Esselstyn's work alone could have cost the Cleveland Clinic a billion or more dollars per year in cashflow.

One day, an creative administrator was hit with a bolt of imaginative lightening. "Let's give Essy two dozen of the most hopeless heart cases, the ones who didn't respond to triple bypasses, balloon angioplasty, or other procedures."

And so they did.

Esselstyn took on 23 males and one female, all given virtual death sentences. The most remarkable of Dr. Esselstyn's patients was a colleague, Dr. Crowe. Esselstyn writes:

"After his heart attack in 1996, tests showed that the entire lower third of his left anterior descending coronary artery-the vessel leading to the front of the heart and nicknamed, for obvious reasons, 'the widowmaker' -was significantly diseased."

Caldwell Esselstyn's skill as a surgeon is obvious, but his proficiency as a writer might be the best part of his work. Although readers of his book have little or no skill in assessing heart damage by reviewing coronary angiograms or scans or x-rays, or other diagnostic tools, Esselstyn skillfully translates the language of cardiologists into a layman's understanding by presenting easily understood photographs with arrows and highlighted commentary. His book is a treasure map, and whether you are diseased or in perfect health, you will find the secret treasure.

Secret, because, as he writes:

"In the United states alone, more than half a million people die of it (heart disease) every single year...The United States spends more than $250 billion a year on heart disease. That's about the same amount the nation spent on the first two and half years of its military venture in Iraq..."

Of Esselstyn's 24 patients, one did die. All of the others survived through the duration of this twelve-year study. Of the man who did die, Esselstyn writes:

"...He had been accepted into the study after sustaining a massive heart attack during an unsuccessful angioplasty... his left heart chamber was so badly damaged and scarred that it was able to pump blood at less than 20 percent of its normal capacity...After he had spent nearly five years on the program, a follow-up angiogram compared four of the areas where his arteries had narrowed. Two were unchanged. Two had improved. Ten months later, he died of cardiac arrhythmia...his heart, which was so scarred, had literally electrocuted itself into arrest...As for the rest of the group, all improved."

The survivors? Esselstyn confidently calls them "heart attack-proof."

The 24 patients came to Dr. Esselstyn cumulatively having suffered through 49 life-threatening cardiovascular events in the years leading up to the study. Esselstyn writes:

"Among the fully compliant patients, during the twelve-year study, there was not one further clinical episode of worsening coronary artery disease..."

Six patients left the study, being unable to stay with a vegan diet. For them, the call of the cheese and meat represented the call of the wild. Of them, Esselstyn writes:

"In every one of them, the heart disease had grown worse. They had suffered...four cases of increased angina, two cases of ventricular tachycardia, four bypass operations, one angioplasty, one case of congestive heart failure..." Caldwell Esselstyn is a visionary. After challenging his own colleagues and the millions of patients who spend billions of dollars to suffer needlessly, Esselstyn proposes:

"The collective will and conscience of my profession is being tested as never before. Now is the time for legendary work."

Robert Cohen

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