Oil-free diets are often discussed in the plant-based and vegan communities. Although some plant-based doctors advocate an oil-free diet, research into such diets is limited.
Following a plant-based diet may be challenging enough, so is there a need to add this extra layer of restriction? This article covers the information you need to know about an oil-free diet.
An oil-free diet is exactly what the name implies: a diet that does not contain any form of oil. People who follow an oil-free diet do not use liquid oils, margarine/butter products or any foods that contain these ingredients.
While anyone can follow an oil-free diet, I have personally only seen it gain popularity as a diet in the plant-based/vegan community – especially those who follow a ‘whole food plant-based’ approach to eating.
Essentially, these people only consume whole, unprocessed plant-based foods. As oil is processed, it is not on their list of foods to eat.
The concept of an oil-free diet originated with some doctors who advocated a whole food, plant-based diet. There are a number of reasons why these doctors (and others who have adopted this way of thinking) advocate this way of eating.
The cited reasons include
Oil is processed
Oil is high in calories and lacking in nutrients
Low-fat/oil-free diets are better for weight
Oil can damage endothelial cells
Oil-free diets are better for heart health
In order to really understand the impact of an oil-free diet, here are studies that specifically focus on oil-free diets and the different arguments in favour of them.
Oil is processed and only natural foods should be consumed
One of the first common points made by advocates of oil-free diets is that oil is highly processed and should be avoided. However, in my opinion, the fact that oils are processed is not a sufficient reason to avoid them.
Firstly, not all oils are highly processed and some are minimally processed (e.g. extra virgin oil).
Secondly, just because most foods that people eat are processed in some way does not mean that they are unhealthy or ‘bad’. Peeling, cutting, boiling, steaming, baking, freezing, fermenting, dehydrating, canning and pickling are examples of the processes that food goes through.
The oil free RTE foods are of more demand amongst health conscious demography and are free from contaminations and are having higher shelf lives. In order to overcome the drawbacks of existing LPG operated batch type hot air puffing system, the Continuous Hot Air puffing system operated using electrical heaters was fabricated. The developed continuous hot air puffing system was found safe and easy to operate.
The continuous hot air puffing system enables continuous feeding of raw material and continuous exit of puffed product, hence frequent resetting of temperatures and air velocities is no more required. The continuous hot air puffing system has the five to six folds increased capacity over existing batch type hot air puffing systems besides reduced requirement of energy due to re circulation of used hot air. The continuous hot air puffing system can be set to any puffing temperature from 175 to 300 °C and air velocity of 2.5 to 6 m/s.
The moisture content and protein content of fryums were observed to reduced due to hot air puffing as compared to raw material and air puffed fryums are found to be free of oil.
With nutrition, you need to consider the whole meal or eating pattern, not just one ingredient. Although oils do not contain fibre, they do not consume themselves; they are added to a meal.
If the meal contains vegetables, whole grains, legumes and other high antioxidant, nutrient-rich foods, you may be able to meet the recommended fibre intake and meet other nutritional requirements for vitamins and minerals that may be lost when the oil is processed. Adding oil to a meal does not eliminate the benefits of the other components of that meal.
You can consume whole foods and oils. It does not have to be one or the other. All foods can be incorporated into an overall balanced diet.
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