The heart smart oil free cookbook

Cover photo of "The heart smart oil free cookbook"

“The heart smart oil free cookbook” co-authored by Mayura Mohta and George Jacobs was recently launched  in Singapore.

The cookbook features delicious plant based recipes from skilled chefs and global nutrition experts. It is inspired by Dr Caldwell Esselstyn Jr’s ground breaking study on the link between the elimination of added oil from one’s daily diet and the prevention and reversal of coronary heart diseases. Dr Esselstyn is the doctor credited with former US President Bill Clinton’s recovery from a failed bypass, through his plant based diet regime.

Mayura Mohta is a Singapore based nutrition consultant, health writer and founder of Healthfriend. Healthfriend is a social enterprise that promotes health and fitness, and contributes to community welfare by distributing all its profits to charities in Singapore and India, that support underprivileged children. George Jacobs, co-author of the book, is President of Vegetarian Society Singapore since 2003.

Mayura Mohta discusses with Bhavani Prakash of Eco WALK the Talk the idea behind “The heart smart oil free cookbook“. The book is supported by Singapore Heart Foundation.

EWTT: What is the philosophy behind the book and what inspired you to write it?

Mayura Mohta at the launch of her The heart smart oil free cookbook

Mayura Mohta: Quoting this from my introduction: “The concept behind the book is based on the contention that the food we eat can protect us from many of the lifestyle diseases that we, in increasing numbers, suffer from. These food-linked diseases include diabetes, obesity and heart disease. This book focuses on coronary artery disease, the world’s No. 1 killer disease.

The idea of writing this book was triggered with Dr Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr’s visit to Singapore in March 2011. A pioneer in developing a non-invasive treatment for coronary heart disease, Dr Esselstyn’s book, “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease” records the evidence of his plant-based diet in reversing heart disease. Dr Esselstyn is possibly most famous for his treatment of President Bill Clinton (along with Dr Dean Ornish). After his failed bypass Bill Clinton began Dr Esselstyn’s plant-based diet program. As reported, “Over the next few months, Clinton lost 24 pounds, returning to his high school weight, feels great, and his heart disease is in reversal.”

We had the good fortune of interviewing Dr Esselstyn and spending  considerable time with him and his wife Anne Esselstyn. This dynamic septuagenarian couple visited Singapore in 2011 for a series of talks to doctors and other health professionals and to the general public, not to mention dinner with then Minister of Health and now Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan and the team of cardiologists who were treating him. After heart surgery, Mr Khaw had followed the Esselstyns’ diet guidelines.

This book is about vegetarian food, but as the title suggests, it goes beyond vegetarianism. It is about oil free vegetarianism. As far as we are aware, this is the first oil free cookbook written in Singapore.”

EWTT:Isn’t oil or a bit of unsaturated fat supposed to be healthy for growing children and good for the brain?


Spaghetti with roasted vegetables

Mayura Mohta: According to many nutritionists, essential fats-the omega-3 & omega-6 fatty acids help children stay healthy and boost immunity reducing the risk of allergies, eczema, asthma and other infections due to their anti-inflammatory properties. They are also said to boost memory and aid recovery from behavioral problems such as depression, dyslexia, autism,etc.

Most people get sufficient omega 6 (excess is harmful) and less omega-3. The latter fatty acids are more important for healthy development of the brain. These omega -3 oils can obtained from plant sources such as chia seeds, flax seeds and hemp seeds.

The point to note is that unlike saturated fats, unsaturated fats are unstable and are damaged when exposed to heat. Given the modern diet and cooking techniques using unsaturated oils, most of us consume unsaturated oils that are damaged or rancid and harmful to health. The best sources of unsaturated fats (omega-3&6) are raw seeds and nuts. These are best consumed in moderation. Children have a high metabolic rate and active lives and can metabolize fats more easily than adults and do not
require such an extreme diet.

Dr.Esselstyn’s Q&A 

Why does the diet eliminate oil entirely?
NO OIL! Not even olive oil, which goes against a lot of other advice out thereabout so-called good fats. The reality is that oils are extremely low in terms of nutritive value. They contain no fiber, no minerals and are 100% fat calories. And above all they contain saturated fat which immediately injures the endothelial lining of the arteries when eaten. It doesn’t matter whether it’s olive oil, corn oil, or any other kind of oil. You should not consume any oil if you have heart disease.

Fish Oil – Should I take fish oil?

Fish oil is not essential. Fish get their omega 3 from plants. It is
difficult to be deficient in Omega 3 if eating 1-2 tablespoons of flax seed meal and green leafy vegetables at several meals. There is also research that suggests that those on plant based nutrition become highly efficient in their own manufacture of omega 3. Patients on fish oil are also at increased risk for bleeding.

Flax Seed Oil/Flax Seed Meal –What about flax seed oil?

Flax seed meal is well tolerated and supplies a bonus of omega 3 using 1 or 2 tablespoons on cereal daily. Avoid flax seed oil.

Olive oil, canola oil, coconut oil, Sunflower oil, soybean oil, peanut oil, any oil – 
Which oil is best?

Avoid oils. They injure the endothelium, the innermost lining of the artery, and that injury is the gateway to vascular disease.

EWTT: Is the book targeted only at heart patients? How can it be used by everyone

Turkish Pudding- made with soy milk and rice flour

Mayura Mohta: This book is for all those who believe that prevention is better than cure. Although it is most suitable for people with coronary artery disease, it is also appropriate for those with a family history of CAD, the obese and those suffering from other lifestyle diseases such as hypertension and Type 2 diabetes. Most people can try to include at least one oil free dish in their daily diet to cut back on their fat intake as a way of safeguarding their health for the future. 


EWTT: What are some of the recipes you have included in this book and how did you source them?

Mayura Mohta: We wrote to various restaurants, chefs, nutritionists, dietitians and other is to contribute a recipe as per Dr. Esselstyn’s guidelines (free form oil, dairy, nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut and any animal products). The response was overwhelming. We included only those which were favorable (ingredients available locally), easy to make and tasty.

 EWTT: What happens to the proceeds from the sale of the book?

Mayura Mohta: The royalties are to be equally split between the Vegetarian Society Of Singapore (to support their efforts) and the children’s charities that HealthFriend supports.

EWTT: Where can readers buy the book?

Mayura Mohta: The Heart Smart Oil Free Cookbook is available at most bookstores in Singapore like Kinokuniya, Popular, Select and in Malaysia. Readers can also order from amazon.com.

About the interviewer:

Bhavani Prakash is the Founder of Eco WALK the Talk .com.  She is a sustainability speaker, trainer and writer can be contacted at bhavani[at]ecowalkthetalk.com. Follow Eco WALK the Talk on Facebook, TwitterLinked IN and YouTube

Further links you may be interested in:

EWTT:  Go Veg with a delicious Arabic meal

EWTT: Winged Bean: The single species supermarket

Here is video about science behind Dr. Esselstyns strict dietary guidelines.



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Posted by on Nov 11 2012. Filed under Green Consumption. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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