Eli5: How does oil react in your body?



You hear a lot about oil from health advisories and dietitians about how little volume oil takes up in your system in comparison to other liquids. What makes it so different and unhealthy?

In: Biology

Oil is essentially fats. Fats are not necessarily bad. Some fats are healthy fats and are good for you.

What happens when you eat them, is your body excretes a couple compounds, like enzymes and bile, to break down the fat in your intestines. Then, your body absorbs those stuff.

I’m not sure what your dietitian means by “little volume oil takes up” in your system. If you eat a tablespoon of oil, until broken down and absorbed, its going to take up that much volume.

Fat isn’t inherently unhealthy. Some fats are. Some aren’t.

I’m not sure I’d exactly call oil unhealthy. Some oils are quite unhealthy. Others can be unhealthy but may not be. And some are absolutely healthy. Finally, some are considered unhealthy by some and quite healthy by others.

Trans-fat oils are absolutely unhealthy. They contain chemical parts which do no occur in our foods and we cannot properly digest them.

Poly-unsaturated oils (like olive oil) are healthy, UNLESS they’re oxidized, either by exposure to air or to heat, like use in frying.

Mono-unsaturated oils are OK, but they are less prone to oxidation, so they’re better for heating in food preparation.

Fully saturated fats, such as coconut oil (which is a solid at room temp) are most stable for frying, baking, etc.. But some regard these are unhealthy. OTOH, where coconut oil is widely used (the Philippines) heart disease is very low, so there’s that.