Hi everyone!? Sorry for the late post tonight. I had a busy day, and even met with a new realtor to help me sell The Luck House! (Wish us luck on that front -- but I have a super-great feeling that this new realtor is 10x more professional and knowledgeable than the previous one.)
Today I thought I'd give you a peek into Wendi's rather fascinating Inbox. While she's away, she asked me to monitor her Pure Jeevan mail box and field as many of the questions as possible. It's been ... interesting! :-)? I never realized the volume of email that she receives! It's almost a full-time job to keep on top of it (which I haven't been able to do as well as I'd hoped -- although I now have it down to just a ?hundred or so unanswered ones, so that's progress!).
Anyway, I thought I'd feature one here today (about oil), and then another tomorrow (about exercise and raw food weight loss). (Well, I'll edit / paraphrase them and keep them anonymous.)
Much of her email is actually feedback and/or raw food questions. One reader recently took issue with our use of oil in a number of recipes in our Raw Recipes eBook. (If you don't have that, you can get it free, here.) The reader writes:
Please read "Healing and Preventing Heart Disease" by Caldwell Esselstyn or the "China Study" by T. Colin Campbell and you'll see why no clarified oils like olive oils are recommended. They dissolve the endotheliel lining of the arteries and then the white blood cells have to sacrifice their lives going after them and eating them up ... and then they engorge and turn (morph) into foam cells and then into cancer cells. ...
For anyone interested in starting a raw foods or, I suspect, any kind of health-related blog, one of the things you're going to find out PDQ is that there are always going to be dissenting letters such as this one. Some are nicer in tone (as this one was), others can be belligerent. When they do get hostile (I'm thinking of a rather amusing one that angrily insisted that anything prepared in a Vitamix was no better than fast food), you do have to wonder what's really driving them. But, you know, you can't let it get to you. We're all doing the best we can -- and in the natural health arena, I have to believe that most people are, in their own unique way, probably trying to be helpful on some level. (Sometimes I can't help noting a marked lack of tact in the world, though!)
But, I would like to at least answer that oil question publicly, as a number of people have actually inquired about our stance on the subject. So, here was my (pretty much verbatim) reply, which I hope will clarify at least my own position on it:
Thanks for responding. We're familiar w/ the amazing China Study, of course. I'll have to ask Wendi if she's read Esselstyn's book. While we're aware that many people avoid oil at all costs, we're also faced with the undeniable reality that, while using organic cold-pressed oil in moderation over the past many years of being raw vegans, we've both experienced remarkable improvements in heart health (and can back that up with solid blood work numbers). Now, was that improvement directly related to the olive oil? Would it have been even more remarkable without the oil? ... Tough to say. I think you'll find, overall, that our own recommendations vis-a-vis oils fall within what most would call "moderation" -- and it's *always* within the context of a 100% raw vegan diet (*never* cooked, which may be an important distinction in the overall controversy over oil use). Additionally, I suspect there could be a "big picture" argument that could possibly be made in support of oil. I'm not saying I've formulated this argument to date, but my thinking is two things: (1) even if oil use has a negative correlation with arterial health, that alone may not be the ultimate causation (e.g., it could relate to, say, cooked oil versus raw -- or some other unknown factor), and (2) the negative effects may be offset in other ways by positive ones (similar to, say, how alkaloids in greens are toxic in large, concentrated doses, yet nontoxic in small ones). So, we're not yet convinced that an all-out recommendation for 100% avoidance is something we're convinced of. That's not to say we're closed-minded about it, because we're definitely interested in continual learning! So, we'll definitely look into this further in the future, and thank you for bringing this issue to our attention. :-)
So, there you have at least my own two cents on that issue. To recap, I personally advocate:
1. Moderation. I really do mean that. To me, it makes sense to err on the lighter side when it comes to oil. But, that's also a personal preference, as I've witnessed others become heart-healthy while consuming much more oil than I ever do (This would be Wendi. She ate a lot of oils and fats during her transition period and her first year of being 100% raw, and regained her health.) That said, anyone who's read this blog for long may have noted my ongoing experimentation with low-fat raw veganism (very similar to 80-10-10). It really is something I aspire to, and a regimen on which I personally tend to feel better. Lately, for example, if you can look past that enormous bag of amazing raw pistachios I impulse-bought from Natural Zing, I've been once again living on a very low fat raw vegan regimen.(Forgive me that... I have NO control around raw pistachios!) I don't believe low-fat raw veganism is a universally perfect existence, though, as some people just can't eat that way, for numerous valid reasons.
2. Raw / Cold-pressed. Obviously, on a raw foods web site, we want you to select the best raw, uncooked oil. That means selecting cold-pressed oils. Some cold-pressed oils may still not be raw, so you should research your preferred brand or check with the manufacturer where uncertain.
3. Organic. ?We strongly advocate the use of organic foods in all instances. I can't think of a single item that we actively advise if it's conventionally grown or Franken-foodified (GMO). However, we also realize that certain items simply are not available organically, or may be cost-prohibitive that way. We strive for 100% organics on a day-to-day basis. However, if you must eat conventional, we advise keeping your intake to only those items of produce that are low on the pesticide risk lists. (Here's a link to two lists available from the All Raw Directory.) Additionally, if you have the option, I would go further and recommend buying oils that come in glass bottles instead of plastic or tin.
Finally, I think it's also good to keep these sorts of issues in perspective. When raw foodies argue about whether oils are advisable or whether Vitamixes affect the nutrition content of foods or whether someone is advocating too much fruit or whether or not you should eat salt, we're really kind of ignoring the fact that all of us are already blessed to be more nutritionally enlightened than literally billions of others in the world who exist on some of the worst dietary practices imaginable -- practices that are unsustainable for both themselves and for the world. In my opinion, it's more important for us to focus on restoring health to others and to the planet than it is to squabble over oil and salt and fructose.
Below, we have included the original comments from this blog post. Additional comments may be made via Facebook, below.
On November 4, 2009, wrote:
I really liked the way you "handled" these issues. I'm brand new to raw food, and small quibbles just don't impress me. To me it's like, . . . hey, . . . give me a break. I'm eating better than I ever have in my life! I'm healthier now at 44 than I was at 24.
For those readers that are so advanced they can afford to quibble about such things, more power to you. But for me and my house, . . . I'll take it if it's raw.
On November 5, 2009, wrote:
I liked your answer! I use oil too, mostly olive and coconut. It's been shown that on the Mediterranean diet, people are more heart healthy than in many other diets, and they eat lots of olive oil, olives, etc. as part of a healthy diet.
I don't know what the person meant by clarified oils. When we clarify olive oil, we just remove the pieces of pits and stuff, which isn't a big deal. Actually, I get a type of Lebanese olive oil that has sediments at the bottom, and I can't use all of it because of the grit. Clarifying can also mean heating at a somewhat high temperature (so, not raw) and that's definitely not good.
I don't remember reading this in the China Study though...
On November 5, 2009, wrote:
Agreed! It's awesome to be healthier now than we were years ago. I'm still getting back to my youth, I think. I have to recognize that it took me 20 years of poor health habits to get into the shape I got myself into, so it'll likely take me several years of raw before I'm at my peak again. But, I really do feel 10x better than I did 10 years ago! So, yeah, I don't like the petty squabbles.
On November 5, 2009, wrote:
RE: Oil & oconut ... Us, too. I didn't really get into the various kinds of oils available, although I was tempted to expand the piece to address that. I think we have a small variety that we use from time to time, but it's mostly olive and coconut. I think we got some hemp from Jeff Rose @ NaturalZing recently, and we may have a few other varieties in our fridge. BTW, I also shared some of the same reactions you stated above w/ respect to clarified oils.