Many baking recipes call for vegetable oils, which are hands-down bad for our health (with a couple of exceptions, which we’ll touch on later). While unhealthy oils can often be swapped out for healthier oils in baking, you might be surprised to learn that you can also use applesauce. Not only does this offer extra nutrition and eliminate the risks of using rancid oils, but it also cuts the calorie count way down.
Why are Vegetable Oils Unhealthy, and Which Should I Avoid?
It sounds counterintuitive that something with “vegetable” as the first word could be bad for you. Unfortunately, mainstream nutrition has led you to believe that many commonly used oils in modern day cooking are healthy alternatives to traditional oils used throughout history (like coconut, for example), and this has contributed to some major declines in health.
The specific oils we’re talking about are ones you likely have in your kitchen at this very moment, and include canola, safflower, cottonseed, corn, soybean, sunflower and grapeseed. All of these oils have a fatty acid composition that can cause serious harm to our body and is thought to be linked to many chronic conditions that are rampant in western cultures, like obesity and heart disease.
Interestingly, these oils aren’t actually derived from vegetables, either, and, nutritionally speaking, are far inferior to actual plant oils like olive and flax.
Many baking recipes call for these oils, and one excellent and healthy alternative is applesauce. First, let’s look, in more detail, at why vegetable oils should be avoided at all costs.
regularly using vegetable oils in cooking and baking is highly inflammatory!
Health Risks of Vegetable Oils
The human body needs both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids to survive and thrive, but in specific ratios. The research is clear that a healthy and normal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids in the diet lowers inflammation, while a skewed ratio of too many omega-6s and not enough omega-3s increases inflammation. Unfortunately, regularly using vegetable oils in cooking and baking is highly inflammatory.
Full of Trans Fats
Almost all health experts agree, and now studies show, that trans fats are terrible for our health. They are linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, yet are still used in many commercial baked goods, mostly in the form of hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. One study looking at canola and soybean oils found that between .6 and 4.2 percent of the oils were made up of trans fats.
Increase Your Risk of Heart Disease
Whereas saturated fat used to be demonized for its role in heart disease, this myth has now been debunked and replaced with the increasing body of evidence that vegetable oils are a major culprit. Studies also show that, while omega-3 fats decrease your risk of heart disease, an excess of omega-6 fats increases it.
How Do I Use Applesauce as a Replacement for Oil?
Applesauce will lower the calorie count, so is great for weight loss!
You can not only expect applesauce to dramatically increase the nutrition of your baked goods, but also to add moisture and flavor. It does take some experimentation and won’t work for all recipes, but it will work for many. Applesauce will lower the calorie count, so is great for weight loss.
Be sure to lower your oven temperature by 25 degrees when using applesauce instead of oil, and you might also need to decrease the cooking time by 5 to 10 minutes.
For recipes that won’t work with applesauce, you can substitute healthier oils like olive or coconut oil for the vegetable oil in your recipe.
You’ll want to start with 3/4 of a cup of applesauce for 1 cup of oil, and increase if needed, working toward a 1:1 ratio. Always choose natural applesauce that has no added sugars or artificial ingredients, or make your own following this simple recipe:
Quick and Easy Applesauce Recipe
Double or triple this recipe as needed. It also makes a great snack!
- 4 medium-sized apples, peeled (optional), cored, and chopped*
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
- pinch of salt (optional)
- 1 tbsp. raw honey (optional)
- Place your apple, water, and lemon juice (and salt and honey, if you want) in a saucepan, bring it to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cover.
- Allow everything to cook together, stirring occasionally until the apple is fork-tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.
- Mash with a potato masher or use a blender (depends on your desired consistency), and allow to cool.
*If you have a food mill, you can just quarter the whole apples, cook them with the other ingredients until soft, and then put them through the food mill.